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Premier Guitar - November 2013  USA
Premier Guitar - November 2013  USA
Premier Guitar - November 2013  USA
Premier Guitar - November 2013  USA
Premier Guitar - November 2013  USA
Premier Guitar - November 2013  USA
Premier Guitar - November 2013  USA
Premier Guitar - November 2013  USA
Premier Guitar - November 2013  USA
Premier Guitar - November 2013  USA
Premier Guitar - November 2013  USA
Premier Guitar - November 2013  USA
Premier Guitar - November 2013  USA
Premier Guitar - November 2013  USA
Premier Guitar - November 2013  USA
Premier Guitar - November 2013  USA
Premier Guitar - November 2013  USA
Premier Guitar - November 2013  USA
Premier Guitar - November 2013  USA
Premier Guitar - November 2013  USA
Premier Guitar - November 2013  USA
Premier Guitar - November 2013  USA
Premier Guitar - November 2013  USA
Premier Guitar - November 2013  USA
Premier Guitar - November 2013  USA
Premier Guitar - November 2013  USA
Premier Guitar - November 2013  USA
Premier Guitar - November 2013  USA
Premier Guitar - November 2013  USA
Premier Guitar - November 2013  USA
Premier Guitar - November 2013  USA
Premier Guitar - November 2013  USA
Premier Guitar - November 2013  USA
Premier Guitar - November 2013  USA
Premier Guitar - November 2013  USA
Premier Guitar - November 2013  USA
Premier Guitar - November 2013  USA
Premier Guitar - November 2013  USA
Premier Guitar - November 2013  USA
Premier Guitar - November 2013  USA
Premier Guitar - November 2013  USA
Premier Guitar - November 2013  USA
Premier Guitar - November 2013  USA
Premier Guitar - November 2013  USA
Premier Guitar - November 2013  USA
Premier Guitar - November 2013  USA
Premier Guitar - November 2013  USA
Premier Guitar - November 2013  USA
Premier Guitar - November 2013  USA
Premier Guitar - November 2013  USA
Premier Guitar - November 2013  USA
Premier Guitar - November 2013  USA
Premier Guitar - November 2013  USA
Premier Guitar - November 2013  USA
Premier Guitar - November 2013  USA
Premier Guitar - November 2013  USA
Premier Guitar - November 2013  USA
Premier Guitar - November 2013  USA
Premier Guitar - November 2013  USA
Premier Guitar - November 2013  USA
Premier Guitar - November 2013  USA
Premier Guitar - November 2013  USA
Premier Guitar - November 2013  USA
Premier Guitar - November 2013  USA
Premier Guitar - November 2013  USA
Premier Guitar - November 2013  USA
Premier Guitar - November 2013  USA
Premier Guitar - November 2013  USA
Premier Guitar - November 2013  USA
Premier Guitar - November 2013  USA
Premier Guitar - November 2013  USA
Premier Guitar - November 2013  USA
Premier Guitar - November 2013  USA
Premier Guitar - November 2013  USA
Premier Guitar - November 2013  USA
Premier Guitar - November 2013  USA
Premier Guitar - November 2013  USA
Premier Guitar - November 2013  USA
Premier Guitar - November 2013  USA
Premier Guitar - November 2013  USA
Premier Guitar - November 2013  USA
Premier Guitar - November 2013  USA
Premier Guitar - November 2013  USA
Premier Guitar - November 2013  USA
Premier Guitar - November 2013  USA
Premier Guitar - November 2013  USA
Premier Guitar - November 2013  USA
Premier Guitar - November 2013  USA
Premier Guitar - November 2013  USA
Premier Guitar - November 2013  USA
Premier Guitar - November 2013  USA
Premier Guitar - November 2013  USA
Premier Guitar - November 2013  USA
Premier Guitar - November 2013  USA
Premier Guitar - November 2013  USA
Premier Guitar - November 2013  USA
Premier Guitar - November 2013  USA
Premier Guitar - November 2013  USA
Premier Guitar - November 2013  USA
Premier Guitar - November 2013  USA
Premier Guitar - November 2013  USA
Premier Guitar - November 2013  USA
Premier Guitar - November 2013  USA
Premier Guitar - November 2013  USA
Premier Guitar - November 2013  USA
Premier Guitar - November 2013  USA
Premier Guitar - November 2013  USA
Premier Guitar - November 2013  USA
Premier Guitar - November 2013  USA
Premier Guitar - November 2013  USA
Premier Guitar - November 2013  USA
Premier Guitar - November 2013  USA
Premier Guitar - November 2013  USA
Premier Guitar - November 2013  USA
Premier Guitar - November 2013  USA
Premier Guitar - November 2013  USA
Premier Guitar - November 2013  USA
Premier Guitar - November 2013  USA
Premier Guitar - November 2013  USA
Premier Guitar - November 2013  USA
Premier Guitar - November 2013  USA
Premier Guitar - November 2013  USA
Premier Guitar - November 2013  USA
Premier Guitar - November 2013  USA
Premier Guitar - November 2013  USA
Premier Guitar - November 2013  USA
Premier Guitar - November 2013  USA
Premier Guitar - November 2013  USA
Premier Guitar - November 2013  USA
Premier Guitar - November 2013  USA
Premier Guitar - November 2013  USA
Premier Guitar - November 2013  USA
Premier Guitar - November 2013  USA
Premier Guitar - November 2013  USA
Premier Guitar - November 2013  USA
Premier Guitar - November 2013  USA
Premier Guitar - November 2013  USA
Premier Guitar - November 2013  USA
Premier Guitar - November 2013  USA
Premier Guitar - November 2013  USA
Premier Guitar - November 2013  USA
Premier Guitar - November 2013  USA
Premier Guitar - November 2013  USA
Premier Guitar - November 2013  USA
Premier Guitar - November 2013  USA
Premier Guitar - November 2013  USA
Premier Guitar - November 2013  USA
Premier Guitar - November 2013  USA
Premier Guitar - November 2013  USA
Premier Guitar - November 2013  USA
Premier Guitar - November 2013  USA
Premier Guitar - November 2013  USA
Premier Guitar - November 2013  USA
Premier Guitar - November 2013  USA
Premier Guitar - November 2013  USA
Premier Guitar - November 2013  USA
Premier Guitar - November 2013  USA
Premier Guitar - November 2013  USA
Premier Guitar - November 2013  USA
Premier Guitar - November 2013  USA
Premier Guitar - November 2013  USA
Premier Guitar - November 2013  USA
Premier Guitar - November 2013  USA
Premier Guitar - November 2013  USA
Premier Guitar - November 2013  USA
Premier Guitar - November 2013  USA
Premier Guitar - November 2013  USA
Premier Guitar - November 2013  USA
Premier Guitar - November 2013  USA
Premier Guitar - November 2013  USA
Premier Guitar - November 2013  USA
Premier Guitar - November 2013  USA
Premier Guitar - November 2013  USA
Premier Guitar - November 2013  USA
Premier Guitar - November 2013  USA
Premier Guitar - November 2013  USA
Premier Guitar - November 2013  USA
Premier Guitar - November 2013  USA
Premier Guitar - November 2013  USA
Premier Guitar - November 2013  USA
Premier Guitar - November 2013  USA
Premier Guitar - November 2013  USA
Premier Guitar - November 2013  USA
Premier Guitar - November 2013  USA
Premier Guitar - November 2013  USA
Premier Guitar - November 2013  USA
Premier Guitar - November 2013  USA
Premier Guitar - November 2013  USA
Premier Guitar - November 2013  USA
Premier Guitar - November 2013  USA
Premier Guitar - November 2013  USA
Premier Guitar - November 2013  USA
Premier Guitar - November 2013  USA
Premier Guitar - November 2013  USA
Premier Guitar - November 2013  USA
Premier Guitar - November 2013  USA
Premier Guitar - November 2013  USA
Premier Guitar - November 2013  USA
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Premier Guitar - November 2013 USA

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November 2013

November 2013

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  • 1. John petrucci • luther dickinson • warwick bass camp • ted greene NOVEMBER 2013 NOVEMBER 2013 Titans of the tremolo A tribute to the vibrato bar’s visionary inventors and players premierguitar.com 10 Guitar & Bass Reviews PRS S2 Custom 24 / Guild Starfire Bass / TC Electronic PolyTune 2 Hayden Mini Mofo / NS Design CR5 Radius Bass / & More!
  • 2. The new Night Train G2 not only delivers that instantly recognizable, VOX full-tube sound sought after by guitarists the world over, now it offers you far more tonal flexibility in a beautifully styled, easy-to-use and highly capable compact package you can use at home, rehearsal, in a recording suite or live onstage. And we just added a new 15 Watt combo amp to the range! NT15H G2 V112NT G2 50 years of signature VOX valve tone NT50H G2 V212NT G2 All tube class A/B Footswitchable GIRTH/BRIGHT dual channel design NT15C1 Digital reverb Effects loop Celestion G12 speakers in all models VOXamps VOXamps WWW.VOXAMPS.COM
  • 3. —PAUL RICHARDS, CALIFORNIA GUITAR TRIO www.cgtrio.com STAGESOURCE L2t 800-watt, Compact, 2-Way All-in-One PA Onboard 5-input digital mixer “We have played through hundreds, perhaps thousands of different monitor systems,” says Richards. “StageSource speakers provide the most natural amplified acoustic guitar tone that I’ve heard. The quality of the sound is so good, it is truly inspiring and helps me perform better.” Two high-quality mic preamps Acoustic guitar players are switching to StageSource® because it sounds better than any other speaker. PAUL SWITCHED. WHAT ABOUT YOU? Acoustic guitar body resonance modeling 12-band feedback suppression 3-band EQ with sweepable mids Pristine chorus and reverb digital effects LINE6.COM/STAGESOURCE-SWITCH STAGE. YOUR REVOLUTION. © 2013 Line 6, Inc. Line 6 and StageSource are trademarks of Line 6, Inc. All rights reserved. David Newkirk Photography #19723
  • 4. Get the Guitar of Your Dreams! Music Man Armada HH – Natural/Trans Red Quilt ONLY 25 In the World! Gibson Custom Sweetwater ‘59 Reissue Les Paul – Aurum Burst Item ID: LPR9RSWGS Item ID: ArmadaHHNTRQ Custom Music Man pickups offer up fat rhythm tones and hot lead sounds. This limited-edition guitar sports a black “Stinger” on back of the headstock. This neck-through guitar has a mahogany body that’s capped with a V-shaped maple top. CTS pots and Bumblebee caps coupled with CustomBucker pickups deliver vintage PAF tone. A Better Way to Buy Guitars Sweetwater.com/guitargallery FREE, PRO ADVICE We’re here to help! Call today! 2-YEAR WARRANTY** Free Total Confidence Coverage™ FAST, FREE SHIPPING On most orders, with no minimum purchase! 24 Months (800) 222-4700 Sweetwater.com SPECIAL FINANCING AVAILABLE ON SELECT BRANDS, USING YOUR SWEETWATER MUSICIAN’S ALL ACCESS PLATINUM CARD, THROUGH NOVEMBER 30, 2013* *Subject to credit approval. Minimum monthly payments required. Call your Sweetwater Sales Engineer for details or visit Sweetwater.com/financing. **Please note: Apple products are excluded from this warranty, and other restrictions may apply. Please visit Sweetwater.com/warranty for complete details.
  • 5. Infinite Possibilities From a vast array of domestic and exotic tone woods, premium finishes, single and five piece necks, fingerboard woods, inlays, fret wire profiles and so many other choices, Carvin offers one of the largest selection of Custom Shop options available. Speak with a Carvin representative or order direct from carvin.com and discover the infinite possibilities that await. CT624M 6 months NO interest Guitars • Basses • Amps • Pro Audio factory direct sales • carvin.com • 800-854-2235 Carvin Custom Shop instruments are sold with a money back guarantee and are usually shipped within 5 to 8 weeks
  • 6. Publisher Jon Levy EDITORIAL Editor in Chief Shawn Hammond Managing Editor Tessa Jeffers Senior Editor Andy Ellis Senior Editor Joe Gore Gear Editor Charles Saufley Senior Art Editor Meghan Molumby Associate Editor Chris Kies Associate Editor Rich Osweiler Associate Editor Jason Shadrick Nashville Correspondent John Bohlinger Nashville Video Editor Perry Bean Photo Editor Kristen Berry PRODUCTION & operations Operations Manager Shannon Burmeister Circulation Manager Lois Stodola Production Coordinator Luke Viertel Sales/MARKETING Advertising Director Brett Petrusek Advertising Director Dave Westin Marketing Manager Nick Ireland Multimedia Coordinator Matt Roberts Gearhead communications, LLC Chairman Peter F. Sprague President Patricia A. Sprague Managing Director Gary Ciocci WEBSITES Tube Converters Convert your 6L6 or EL34 amp to a Class-A amp using EL84s. Our Portal premierguitar.com Our Online Magazine: digital.premierguitar.com The information and advertising set forth herein has been obtained from sources believed to be Gearhead Communications, L.L.C., however, does not warrant complete accuracy of such information and assumes no responsibility for any consequences arising from the use thereof or reliance thereon. Publisher reserves the right to reject or cancel any advertisement or space reservation at any time without notice. Publisher shall not be liable for any costs or damages if for any reason it fails to publish an advertisement. This publication may not be reproduced, in whole or in part, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopied, recorded, or otherwise, without the prior written permission of the publisher. Copyright ©2013. All Rights Reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part without written permission is prohibited. Premier Guitar is a publication of Gearhead Communications, L.L.C. Premier Guitar [ISSN 1945-077X (print) ISSN 1945-0788 (online)] is published monthly. Subscription rates: $24.95 (12 issues), $39.95 (24 issues) Call for Canada, Mexico and foreign subscription rates 877-704-4327; email address for customer service lois@premierguitar.com. PREMIER GUITAR (USPS 025-017) Volume 18, Issue 11 Published monthly by: Gearhead Communications, LLC Three Research Center Marion, IA 52302 Phone number: 877-704-4327 • Fax: 319-447-5599 Periodical Postage Rate paid at Marion, IA 52302 and at Additional Mailing Offices POSTMASTER: Please send address changes to: Gearhead Communications, LLC, Three Research Center, Marion, IA 52302 YellowJacket sTC.com 6 PREMIER GUITAR NOVEMBER 2013 premierguitar.com info@premierguitar.com Distributed to the music trade by Hal Leonard Corporation. premierguitar.com
  • 7. Get a FREE T-shirt when you complete this month’s crossword puzzle Email or mail us your info and a pic of your completed puzzle! Include your Name, Address, Email & T-shirt Size! news@eastmanguitars.com 2138 Pomona Blvd. Pomona, CA 91768 Handcrafted Guitars & Mandolins. That’s what we do. Committed to a high standard of quality, Eastman Guitars uses only premium tonewoods and the finest appointments. Alongside the talent and accomplishment of our designers and luthiers, combined with our company philosophy, we continue one of the most fascinating musical traditions the world has known. 1 2 3 5 4 6 7 8 9 10 11 13 15 12 14 16 17 18 19 20 ACROSS DOWN 4. Standard guitar tuning 8. one of the most innovative and influential guitarists of all time born 1942 9. In 1955 this 'man in black' makes his first chart appearance with "Cry Cry Cry" 10. 1968 The Beatles release a self-titled album commonly referred to as... 14. this guitar great wrote the instrumental hit "Rumble" 15. In 1967 this music bible was first published 18. 1967's "Magical Mystery Tour" band 19. Eastman’s electric guitar line 20. Elvis Presley's last #1 hit in November 1969 E10SS 1. Just Another Brick In (1979) 2. legendary singer of Queen passed away November 24, 1991 3. Traditionally eaten on this November holiday 5. November Music Festival in New Orleans 6. born November 18, 1962 guitarist for a pioneering bay area metal band 7. this "Pink Moon" writer passed away November 25, 1974 11. "Tiptoe Through the Tulips" 12. Eastman Handcrafted Guitars and 13. An Eastman guitar referred to as an “AR” 16. born November 12, 1945 he began rockin' in the free world 17. Released "Anarchy in the UK" (1977) www.EastmanGuitars.com AR805CE No purchase necessary. Limit one submission per household. Giveaway limited to the first 100 submissions received. Please allow 6-8 weeks from the time your submission is received.
  • 8. Tuning up Life in the Key of Dorian Gray BY shawn hammond @PG_shawnh N Ivan Albright’s fantastic “Picture of Dorian Gray” from Albert Lewin’s 1945 film adaptation of the timeless Oscar Wilde novel. ot to get all hippie-dippy—I’m not the hugest fan of all that circle-of-life crap—but isn’t it funny how we all do kind of fly in these mysterious orbits around the invisible black holes of our history and genes and chemistry and who-knows-what-else? Flung around our little universes, we try to forget about mortality’s gravitational pull—try to focus on paying the bills but remember to let in a little light from the imploding star of unrealized (and kind of stupid) dreams and fantastically unexpected opportunities so it can feed new life springing up around us… try to remind ourselves all that stuff composes the dynamics that make this prolonged state of breathing and atria pumping the crazy, unpredictable, terrifyingly exhilarating epic psych-prog jam that it is. We’re always trying to find meaning and purpose on macro and mondo scales—always thinking/knowing/wishing there are/were some assurances after we’re compacted into the dense mass of elemental existence before exploding into oblivion like the signal coming out of J Mascis’ wall of Marshalls. Yeah, life can be heavy sometimes. Speaking of circles of life and getting all we can out of it, 16 years ago my wife and I were contemplating names for our first son. We wanted something unique—but not weird enough that he’d someday blame it for sociopathic behavior. I kind of liked “Dorian.” I hadn’t yet read Oscar Wilde’s brilliant novel The Picture of Dorian Gray, so I must’ve been spending too much time on fretboard scales. My English-major brother alerted me to the faux pas of naming your kid after a dashing, forever-young rich bastard who lives as scandalously as possible and actually enjoys watching his soul corrode in a mysterious painting. So yeah, we canned that idea. But over the years Wilde’s masterpiece became one of my favorite books. Sometimes I regret being deterred. I mean, hardly anybody knows about its elegant prose and dichotomous tale of debauchery and moral insight, so who would’ve given our kid crap for it anyway? I still kind of like the villain’s name. But I don’t think it has anything to do with scales now. Maybe it’s because we all struggle with the things Dorian did: Our nerve endings tell us to seek out everything that’s pleasurable and easy, while our brains speak to us of practicality and self-preservation and maybe some sort of philosophical or faith-based morality. Our hearts long for fantastic, paradoxical possibilities to avoid death and pain or prolong ecstasy. But it’s okay to have some Dorian DNA in us—to want the best of this existence and never cease looking for new experiences that brighten the tapestry of life. To not let routine and complacency bleach its brilliance. Most of us aren’t stupid enough to think, like Dorian Gray, that loyalty to nothing but the pleasure center of our brain is a road worth following. But plenty of us are too busy, discouraged, complacent, or incurious to find the grain of truth around which the black pearl of his warped philosophy grew. I guess what I’m saying is it’d be a tragedy to become as dead to life’s new possibilities as Dorian was to his conscience. The day you’re hardened to the cosmic hippie stuff and become indifferent to squashed squirrels festering in the road or wide-eyed fawns eating in the grass outside the office window is the day you start rotting inside. And you’re completely screwed if you don’t love that your kids helped you, say, rediscover the same Metallica album you bought new at 15, or don’t laugh when they lambast mainstream songs you kind of like—right after asking you to download the Top 40 tune you hated in high school. The day you think there’s nowhere new for your songs, tone, or playing style to go, you’re SOL. … plenty of us are too busy, discouraged, complacent, or incurious to find the grain of truth around which the black pearl of [Gray’s] warped philosophy grew.” Shawn Hammond Editor-In-Chief shawn@premierguitar.com 8 PREMIER GUITAR NOVEMBER 2013 premierguitar.com
  • 9. Hunter Hayes Martin player, 2 years “For the love of music” is Hunter Hayes’ mantra that’s inscribed on the pick guard of his Martin 00 Koa Custom. Learn how his love of watching country artists perform live influenced Hunter’s sound at www.martinguitar.com/hunter. Available Everywhere
  • 10. FEEDBACK Loop uses I have ever read. Usually the articles on tubes get way too technical for me and I get lost in all the tech talk. This one however, I understood and will use as a handout to my guitar students who want to know basics about tubes. Very well done! —John Hutchinson, via premierguitar.com With the Band I met Derek on his first tour with The Allman Brothers when Dickey was still in the band. Shortly after that, Derek was in St. Louis with his band and called up and asked about coming out to Silver Strings Music to look around. He was 21 by that point, as I recall. He bought a very cool old black Silvertone guitar and an old Guild A-50, which Susan [Tedeschi] had seen when she was in town with Derek earlier that summer, as a birthday present. The Silvertone ended up being the “Down in The Flood” guitar. The ’65 Firebird V was one of my personal guitars for about 30 years and is easily one of the best Firebird Vs made, and still in one piece. I was finalizing a Firebird deal with Duane on the day that he died, so this deal was a bit of guitar “closure,” since he never got to gig with his. Derek has been able to pursue a tonal direction that Duane had planned on exploring, but did not get the chance. Regarding the ’69 Duane Allman Marshall, I brought it to the soundcheck for a Derek Trucks Band/Eric Johnson show on February 13, 2001. I remember the date because 10 PREMIER GUITAR NOVEMBER 2013 Susan had flown in that day for Valentine’s Day, which was the following day. Derek tried it out backstage with his main SG, and it was undeniably, the Fillmore one. Very distinctive fullness and sustain. Derek used the amp for the encores when he, Susan, and Mike [Mattison] sat in with Eric’s band. George McCorkle and I had several discussions about the appropriate thing to do with the amp when it was time to pass it along, and we both agreed that for a variety of reasons, it would go to Derek. Over 10 years later, we worked out a deal that puts the amp where it should stay. I am happy to hear that it was used on this album [Made Up Mind]. I still miss the Firebird, which was one of my three favorite guitars of the last 43 years, but I think that the right guy has it, too! Derek and Susan have also bought several other old guitars and amps. Do not miss seeing this band live! Pete—great article. Here’s one little tip I haven’t seen anywhere ... 1) Go to your amp manufacturer’s website and download a PDF copy of your tube chart. 2) Open the PDF with Acrobat. 3) Use the sticky note tool in Adobe Acrobat to make notes on when you changed your tubes and with what brand/model and any other settings, things to try in what section, etc. 4) Save the document. Now you have a log of your tube changes and you won’t forget what’s where and if you want the same tubes or to try something new. —Jason Davis, @jasondavismusic 4 1/2 hrs @ 35,000 ft with @premierguitar issue means pedalboard overhaul is coming. Used pedal sale at my place soon —jteichel, @teichel via premierguitar.com —Ed Seelig, Silver Strings Music & Repair, —James Hogan, St. Louis, Missouri via premierguitar.com Thank you Peter Thorn and Premier Guitar. This [Tone Tips, October 2013] is one of the best descriptions of tubes and their @PG_shawnh your “tuning up” comments in the latest @premierguitar are so on the mark. Case in point, my pedalboard: —Chip G., Great info. Don’t forget extra fuses too! If you blow a tube it will likely take out the amp’s fuse(s) as well. Also, since failed tubes often take out a tube socket resistor (which is tough to change quickly mid gig) you can always bring a backup amp or a POD type device to bail you out for those situations. That being said having an extra set of tubes is always a great idea! Tube Talk Socialize with Us! Keep those comments coming! Please send your suggestions, gripes, comments, and good words directly to info@premierguitar.com. I bought the Mu-tron III brand new. It was my first effect pedal back in the ’70s. It burned through the batteries like nothing else but sounded so good. I sold it in the ’90s to a gentleman in the Netherlands. The Dan Armstrong Blue Clipper was my only other box until I bought a Small Stone. The Clipper plugged right into the guitar, unless you had a Strat. I called it the “Now I’m Fripp” box. —Thomas Voehringer premierguitar.com
  • 11. FOCUS LESS ON YOUR GEAR, MORE ON YOUR MUSIC. NeW Bose® L1® ModeL 1s systeM Our new L1 Model 1S offers the portability and flexibility of the L1 family — with a new level of performance. With the Bose proprietary 12-speaker articulated line array, it’s big enough to fill the room with 180 degrees of clear, even sound. At the same time, it’s small enough to fit in your car and light enough to carry yourself. Plus, with no speaker stands and fewer connections, it’s easy enough to set up in minutes. You’ll focus less on your equipment and more on your performance. To learn more about Bose L1 systems, visit Bose.com/L1systems11b or call 800-905-1852 L1 Model 1S with B1 bass premierguitar.com PREMIER GUITAR NOVEMBER 2013 11
  • 12. CONTENTS November 2013 P. 79 ARTISTS 64 32 John Petrucci Tremolo Titans 79 Luther Dickinson How the North Mississippi Allstars created their boldest album to date. 95 Forgotten Heroes: Ted Greene One of the most influential guitar instructors who ever lived. 12 PREMIER GUITAR NOVEMBER 2013 The visionaries of vibrato, from the mechanics to the players. Tremolo History It’s as old as the human voice, but when did it become a guitar effect? REVIEWS 136 140 145 149 153 156 161 164 168 173 Guild Starfire 119 WarwickBass Camp A weeklong low-end exporation set in the land of sausage. “If you’re going to get into slide, you need to put that pick down!” Tausch 665 —Luther Dickinson, p. 79 TC Electronic PolyTune 2 Hayden Mini Mofo Spontaneous Audio Son of Kong PRS S2 Custom 24 ToneConcepts The Distillery Devilcat Jimmy NS Design CR5 Radius Bearfoot Effects Model G Above: Photo by Michael Weintrob Practice makes perfect, says the beloved Dream Theater mastermind. 47 premierguitar.com
  • 13. ©2013 PRS Guitars / Photo by Marc Quigley The new from PRS Guitars Made in Maryland • Starting at $1,179 Manufactured with new processes and specs in the same Maryland factory as all US-made PRS instruments, the new S2 Series brings classic PRS playability and reliability to a new price point. With a simple, straightforward design these guitars have serious style and expressive tone. Check one out at a PRS dealer near you and see for yourself. www.prsguitars.com/s2series © 2012 PRS Guitars - Photo by Neil Zlozower
  • 14. On the Cover: Contents November 2013 1930s Rickenbacher Spanish Model B with Kauffman Vib-Rola. Photo by Robert Corwin 18 20 23 176 178 188 190 192 News Bits Gear Radar Opening Notes Media Reviews Staff Picks Next Month in PG Esoterica Electrica Last Call GEAR 28 Rig Rundowns 44 Modern Builder Vault 60 Vintage Vault 62 Bottom Feeder 76 Tone Tips 92 Guitar Tracks Right now I’m listening to some Bill Frisell records including Gone, Just Like a Train. —David Bromberg, Staff Picks, p. 178 14 PREMIER GUITAR NOVEMBER 2013 Photo by Kat Osweiler HOW-TO 110 Acoustic Soundboard 112 Guitar Shop 101 114 Bass Bench 116 On Bass 130 Mod Garage 132 Ask Amp Man 134 State of the Stomp premierguitar.com
  • 15. “The warmth and depth of Elixir Strings is really important to my overall sound. They feel great and their tone lasts an incredibly long time.” - Eric Bibb Photo Credit: Andy Sheppard Acoustic Phosphor Bronze The tone you love – for longer Elixir® Strings Acoustic Phosphor Bronze deliver distinctive phosphor bronze warmth and sparkle - together with extended tone life. Elixir Strings is the only coated string brand to protect the entire string, keeping tone-killing gunk out of the gaps between the string windings. Our innovative Anti-Rust Plated Plain Steel Strings prevent corrosion, ensuring longer life for the entire set. Guitarists tell us Elixir Strings retain their tone longer than any other string, uncoated or coated. Eric Bibb plays Elixir Strings Acoustic Phosphor Bronze ® with NANOWEB Coating, Medium Gauge .013 - .056 www.elixirstrings.com/phosbronze facebook.com/elixirstrings twitter.com/elixirstrings youtube.com/elixirstringsmedia GORE, ELIXIR, NANOWEB, POLYWEB, GREAT TONE • LONG LIFE, “e” icon, and other designs are trademarks of W. L. Gore & Associates. ©2013 W. L. Gore & Associates, (UK) Limited ELX-259-ADV-US-JUN13
  • 16. GO ONLINE ONLY ON PremierGuitar.com… Your guide to the latest stories, reviews, videos, and lessons on PremierGuitar.com FEATURED LESSONS Access all of our lessons online, for free, with streaming audio and downloadable, printable notation PDFs. BEYOND BLUES Dorian vs. Aeolian By Levi Clay DIY Bass Setup, Trivium, and Black Crowes Gear Porn In our latest DIY video installment, tech guru Tony Nagy shows us how to set up a 5-string bass. In light of Vengeance Falls, Trivium’s Matt Heafy and Corey Beaulieu discuss working with Disturbed frontman David Draiman, and we also get a closer look at the making of Only Slightly Mad, the latest album from Dylan collaborator and Americana godfather, David Bromberg. Black Crowes’ guitarist Rich Robinson had so many glorious instruments on hand when we recently shot a Rig Rundown that we simply had to find a way to share them all with you. Check out our exclusive gear gallery featuring his touring guitars and rig. (Flip to p.28 for a preview of this amazing collection.) STYLE GUIDE Blues Progressions By Mike Cramer DIGGING DEEPER How Many Chords are There? By Shawn Persinger FRETBOARD WORKSHOP Improving Your Legato Technique By Allen Hinds Calling All Bottom Feeders! Gear lust comes in all forms, and who doesn’t love a good bargain? Will Ray’s Bottom Feeder column has received great feedback over the years, so we’ve decided to see what steals and finds other people are playing. Send a highresolution photograph of your budget gear finds to submissions@premierguitar.com. Don’t forget to describe what it is, but also tell us where and how you acquired your instrument and how much you paid. We’ll feature the best finds in a “Bottom Feeder: Reader’s Edition.” And don’t worry about how cheap it is. After all, one man’s trash is another man’s treasure. 16 PREMIER GUITAR NOVEMBER 2013 premierguitar.com
  • 17. news bits guitardom’s top tweets What kind of monster have I become that I’m cheering for Walt and Todd?! Mark Hoppus, @markhoppus Great Scott! @Scott_Ian: New Thraxagram relic aka Evel Knievel just in time for San Bernardino tomorrow! Jackson Guitars, @JacksonGuitars Experience PRS 2013 Private Stock. Limited edition, only 30 made. PRS Guitars, @prsguitars I played 2 of Jimi’s strats. 1 he gave to Frank Zappa (still in Dweezil’s possession) & a ’61 he gave to Adrian Gurvitz. both = unreal vibes. Phil X, @TheRealPhilX The sound in our venue tonight can best be described as an echo chamber!! You can come back tomorrow and still hear us from tonight! Joe Bonamassa, @JBONAMASSA Production Thrasher has passed the tests.... The first big batch will be shipping soon. Randall Amplifiers, @randallamps 18 PREMIER GUITAR NOVEMBER 2013 AWARD Todd Rundgren to Receive Les Paul Award at 29th Annual TEC Awards Carlsbad, CA – Legendary musician, groundbreaking record producer, and electronic music revolutionary Todd Rundgren will be honored with the Les Paul Award at the 29th Annual Technical Excellence & Creativity Awards. The awards recognize outstanding achievement in professional audio technology and production and will be presented Friday, January 24 at the Anaheim Hilton during the 2014 NAMM Show held in Anaheim, CA. The Les Paul Award, named for the revolutionary inventor and esteemed musician, is presented annually to honor individuals or institutions that have set the highest standards of excellence in the creative application of audio and music technology. Russ Paul, son of Les Paul, will make the presentation on behalf of the Les Paul Foundation, sponsor of the award. Instituted in 1991, the honor has been granted to such luminaries as Pete Townshend, Paul McCartney, Brian Wilson, Stevie Wonder, Neil Young, and Peter Gabriel. The TEC Foundation for Excellence in Audio will also induct two new members to its Hall of Fame—John Meyer and Hal Blaine. Audio engineer and sound researcher John Meyer co-founded and is CEO of Berkeley’s Meyer Sound Laboratories, Inc. He will be recognized for bringing groundbreaking developments to the design and manufacture of the loudspeaker and for his cutting-edge contributions to sound reinforcement in the performing arts. Legendary session musician Hal Blaine of the Wrecking Crew played drums on more than 5,000 records, TV jingles, and film scores. Career highlights include hits for Elvis Presley, the Beach Boys, and dozens more. namm.org TOUR Korn and Rob Zombie Announce Co-Headlining Tour Los Angeles, CA – Rob Zombie and Korn have announced a co-headlining arena tour—the “Night of the Living Dreads” tour—kicking off Sunday, November 3rd in Reno, NV and encompassing premierguitar.com
  • 18. 17 dates across the U.S. before wrapping November 26th in Bethlehem, PA. On his upcoming co-headlining tour with Korn, Rob Zombie notes, “Some of the best times we’ve had on the road have been touring with Korn, so we’re thrilled to be doing it again!” Jonathan Davis adds, “We’ve had a lot of fun touring and playing with Rob Zombie over the years. It’s been a while and those shows were so much fun. We’re really excited about doing it again.” korn.com robzombie.com roadshow Taylor Guitars Announces Domestic and International Road Shows El Cajon, CA – From California to Malaysia, New Zealand, and Norway, Taylor’s team of factory experts and product specialists is circling the globe as part of the fan-favorite Road Show series. The Road Show will make stops at over 100 different authorized Taylor dealers this fall, promising guitar enthusiasts a night of insights on the company’s guitar-making processes, body shape and tonewood options, and the award-winning Expression System pickup. After a series of guitar demonstrations, guests are invited to sample a variety of different models, including the all-new Grand Orchestra, along with rare and custom Build to Order guitars, as part of Taylor’s “Petting Zoo.” Admission to each Road Show is free. The 2013 Fall Road Show schedule will kick off in the United States with multiple dates in California, followed by several stops in Ohio and Indiana, with concurrent events planned for the East Coast in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Maine. While on the Road Show page, fans can also enter for a chance to win a Taylor Grand Orchestra guitar. Introduced earlier this year at Winter NAMM, Taylor’s Grand Orchestra delivers the company’s biggest body shape to date, producing a full-spectrum tonal range that boasts great power, depth, and balance. taylorguitars.com premierguitar.com PREMIER GUITAR NOVEMBER 2013 19
  • 19. Gear radar New products on the horizon. 5 2 1 4 3 1 2 fender Starcaster mcnelly guitars Saint Nick Pickups Resurrected from its brief These handmade single- tenure in the ’70s, the coils have the punchy 3 Mooer audio Micro DI 4 5 The Micro DI contains PRS DG Custom Heads & Custom 2x12 Cab Line 6 POD HD Pro X Line 6’s latest all-in-one balanced and unbalanced Designed in conjunction rackmount unit contains Starcaster is Fender’s nature of P-90s, and a outputs, a ground lift, with David Grissom, the more DSP processing only offset-waist semi- modified construction virtual cab simulation, DG Custom 30 features power, over 100 studio hollow model. It sports gives them a uniquely and a gain switch—all in a four EL84/7581 tubes and and stomp effects, and can a 9.5" fretboard radius versatile tone in a very small footprint. the DG Custom 50 rocks a serve as a studio interface. and Fender Wide Range humbucker size. MSRP $99 quartet of EL34s. Street $699 humbuckers. Street $125 (add $10 for mooeraudio.com MAP DG Custom 30 line6.com MSRP $899 black or gold) $2,899, DG Custom 50 fender.com mcnellyguitars.com $2,999, DG 2x12 Cab $849 prsguitars.com 20 PREMIER GUITAR NOVEMBER 2013 premierguitar.com
  • 20. 9 6 10 8 7 6 7 cort 20th Anniversary Artisan Bass Series B4 dod Overdrive Preamp 250 The revamped, true-bypass The Artisan B4 20th boasts 8 IK Multimedia iRig Pro 9 10 Hughes & Kettner GrandMeister eastwood Marksman 5 The iRig Pro is a universal The 36-watt, EL84- A replica of the 1957 mobile audio/MIDI powered head includes Magnatone Mark V 250 captures the sound and interface that handles H&K favorites like the designed by Paul Bigsby, a swamp-ash body, a wild heart of the original, both 1/4" and XLR cables, Red Box DI output and it features a chambered 5-piece neck constructed but boasts an output that has 48V phantom power, power soak, but adds mahogany body, 22-fret of African wenge and is significantly higher and works with IK’s suite MIDI functionality and mahogany set neck, and rosewood, an African wenge and cleaner, giving it an of music-creation apps. programming for onboard a pair of custom-designed EW Alnico SCP90s. fretboard, Bartolini MK-1 incredibly polished sound. Street $149.99 reverb, tap delay, flange, pickups and preamp, and MSRP $149.95 ikmultimedia.com phase, tremolo, and Street $999 Hipshot Ultralite tuners. digitech.com chorus effects. eastwoodguitars.com MSRP $799 MSRP $1,499 cortguitars.com hughes-and-kettner.com premierguitar.com PREMIER GUITAR NOVEMBER 2013 21
  • 21. Opening Notes Lukas Nelson August 3, 2013 Grant Park Chicago, Illinois Photo by Chris Kies The frontman for Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real takes on the 2013 Lollapalooza BMI stage with his new main squeeze—a near-mint, completely stock 1956 Les Paul Junior that he purchased earlier this year. premierguitar.com PREMIER GUITAR NOVEMBER 2013 23
  • 22. Opening Notes Bryce Dessner August 3, 2013 Grant Park Chicago, Illinois Photo by Chris Kies The National’s Bryce Dessner brings it to an eager Lollapalooza crowd with a 1965 non-reverse Firebird he picked up on eBay for a whopping $300. He outfitted the ’Bird with a Bigsby and a set of handwound Lollars. 24 PREMIER GUITAR NOVEMBER 2013 premierguitar.com
  • 23. Opening Notes Nile Rodgers August 9, 2013 Golden Gate Park San Francisco, California Photo by Rich Osweiler Writer, producer, and player of countless hits since the ‘70s, Nile Rodgers works a crowd of San Franciscans into dance mode with his long-favored axe (aka “Hitmaker”), the 1960 Strat with a ’59 neck that he’s been playing since the early ’70s. premierguitar.com PREMIER GUITAR NOVEMBER 2013 25
  • 24. Opening Notes John Oates August 11, 2013 Golden Gate Park San Francisco, California Photo by Kat Osweiler The Hall & Oates co-founder and guitarist gets an ’80s-flavored party rolling at the 2013 Outside Lands festival with one of his favorite guitars, a stock 2009 TV Jones Model 10 equipped with a Bigsby and a pair of TV Classic pickups. 26 PREMIER GUITAR NOVEMBER 2013 premierguitar.com
  • 25. rig rundowns Rich Robinson Black crowes Longtime tech, Doug “Red” Redler, showed us the gear Rich Robinson is using on the Crowes’ latest tour. A large portion of the band’s gear was damaged during Hurricane Sandy and Redler had to replace nearly everything in Robinson’s touring rig. On this leg, Robinson was hauling everything from relic’d out Gibsons to Japanese Zemaitis models, and even a few Gretschs and Teles. This Japanese-made Gretsch Black Falcon was relic’d by Cobra Guitars out of NYC. Robinson tunes this guitar to C–C–E–C–E–G for “Shine Along” and reaches for it anytime he wants to wrestle with feedback. All of Robinson’s electric guitars are strung up with .010–.046 sets of GHS Boomers. His Teye La Mora (not pictured) is tuned to open-G and capoed at the third fret for “Remedy.” Built in Austin, Texas, these guitars feature very intricate engraving work and a somewhat mysterious Mood knob. Robinson plays almost exclusively on the bridge pickup—no matter what guitar he plays—with all the knobs full on. 28 PREMIER GUITAR NOVEMBER 2013 premierguitar.com
  • 26. FACToid Robinson’s hi-fi stereo was the inspiration for the design of his Signature Reason amp. Top: Two EL34 output tubes and five 12AX7 preamp tubes power the 50-watt Rich Robinson Signature Reason amp. It also contains a GZ34 rectifier and a tube tremolo that Robinson controls via an expression pedal. The 2x12 cabinets are made of Baltic birch and are stocked with 50-watt Eminence Private Jack speakers. Center: In order to keep stage volume at a manageable level, both of Robinson’s amps (on the left is a 50th Anniversary Vox AC30HH with matching cab) use Stage Craft baffles. On top of the effects rack is a pair of Fulltone Tube Tape Echoes (one for a short echo and the other for a long echo) and a Fender Vintage Reissue ‘63 Reverb tank. Bottom: All of Robinson’s effects are housed in a rack that sits between his amps onstage. The drive section of his rig consists of an ElectroHarmonix Big Muff and four reissue Way Huge pedals (Angry Troll, Red Llama, Swollen Pickle, and Pork Loin). The next drawer houses his modulation effects: a Strymon El Capistan, Way Huge Supa-Puss, Uni-Vibe Stereo Chorus, Flip Vintage Tremolo, and a Demeter Tremulator. He splits his signal with a Framptone 3-Banger out to his Vox and Reason amps (which are both always on) and uses a Strymon Lex for his rotary tones. premierguitar.com PREMIER GUITAR NOVEMBER 2013 29
  • 27. rig rundowns Jerry Horton & Tobin Esperance Papa roach We caught up with Papa Roach guitarist Jerry Horton and bassist Tobin Esperance for a backstage hang before this stop on the Carnival of Madness tour. Horton explains downsizing his rig and collaborating with Schecter on his signature model, while Esperance discusses why he removed the 3-band EQ on his Lakland basses and why picks just aren’t his thing. FACToid Horton played a Schecter C-1 in the band’s breakout “Last Resort” video in 2000. Jerry horton Horton has rocked Schecters for over a decade and his signature 6-string is based on the single-cut Custom Solo 6 with a few tweaks. He requested a TonePros AVT-II wraparound bridge and swapped the standard Seymour Duncan Custom Custom in the bridge for his preferred JB bridge pickup setup. For the Carnival of Madness tour, his tech replaced the standard 19:1-ratio Schecter locking tuners with Grovers. The graphics were codesigned with a hot-rod artist from Tennessee. One is tuned to dropped C and the other is C#. He uses Dunlop Nickel Plated Steel .013–.056 strings and custom Dunlop Papa Roach-designed .88 Tortex picks. 30 PREMIER GUITAR NOVEMBER 2013 Horton once rocked a four-amp setup that included three different Marshall heads and a Vox AC30, but he scaled down his rig for an early 2013 gig in Russia and hasn’t looked back. He now uses two Fractal Audio Axe-Fx II units for all his amp models and effects and relies on a lone expression pedal for wah sounds and controlling the amount of overdrive/dirt on certain patches on songs like “Hollywood Whore.” Following Horton’s reduction motif, Esperance is only traveling with two rackmounted Ampeg amps. His main stage head is a SVT-4 Pro and the backup is a BR5. premierguitar.com
  • 28. Tobin Esperance Esperance relies heavily on his custom Lakland 44-94 4-string models. These look like standard production models at first glance, but Esperance simplified the control layout by opting to ditch the 3-band EQ for a passive sound because he always had it on 10 and was turning the wrong knobs during dimly lit shows. His 44-94s also have a sleeker, more modern-metal look with all black hardware. He currently uses D’Addario strings, gauged .050–.120. Esperance never uses a pick onstage, saying he has better control over tone and dynamics when he attacks the strings with his fingertips. Esperance keeps a tidy house when it comes to his pedalboard, which only has three boxes on it: a Jim Dunlop 105Q Cry Baby Bass Wah, a Malekko B:Assmaster Harmonic Octave Distortion, and a Boss TU-2 tuner. A Voodoo Lab Pedal Power 2 powers his modest board. premierguitar.com PREMIER GUITAR NOVEMBER 2013 31
  • 29. Titans of Tremolo By Joe Charupakorn 32 PREMIER GUITAR NOVEMBER 2013 premierguitar.com
  • 30. A tribute to the visionaries of vibrato— from the brilliant minds that concocted its mechanics to the players who hooked us on its intoxicating effects. W hether it’s used to add a shimmering vibe to a cloud of ethereal chords, impart a seasick feel to a surf riff, or unleash a sonic assault of bowel-rattling divebombs, the tremolo bar has played a huge role in the guitar’s capabilities as an expressive instrument. It’s difficult to imagine a modern musical genre that wouldn’t sound a lot different without the remarkable range of textures that a deftly used tremolo can yield. To celebrate the contributions of this wonderful piece of hardware—and the brilliant minds that made it possible—let’s look at the tremolo systems that changed not just the way guitar is played, but the entire musical landscape since the 1930s. First, some nomenclature: Although many use the terms “tremolo” and “vibrato” interchangeably, they aren’t always synonymous. There are different types of tremolo: On bowed string instruments, tremolo can refer to rapid reiteration of the same note, or movement between two notes (sometimes called “tremolando”). This explains why the fast picking at around the 0:30 mark in Edward Van Halen’s “Eruption” is often called “tremolo picking.” But with some instruments, including guitar and organs, “tremolo” refers to a variation in volume—which explains why famous amplitude-modulating pedals like the Demeter Tremulator and Fulltone’s Supa-Trem2 are named as they are. Confused yet? That’s only half the picture. Those who insist tremolo is a volume-related musical effect will tell you that, theoretically, vibrato refers to pitch fluctuation. But try keeping that straight in your head the next time you’re playing a Strat outfitted with Fender’s pitch-altering “Synchronized Tremolo” through a Twin Reverb equipped with the company’s deliciously hypnotic volume-modulating circuit labeled…“vibrato.” The Good Doc’s Vib-Rola The tremolo bar’s origins go back to the 1930s, around the time the electric guitar was born. In 1935, Clayton Orr “Doc” Kauffman was aiming to replicate the sound of a Hawaiian steel guitar. He invented the Kauffman Vib-Rola, one of the first incarnations of a vibrato tailpiece. Initially, the Epiphone guitar company had exclusive distribution rights, even installing the Vib-Rola on some of its acoustic guitars. Before long, though, Rickenbacker (which still went by the original German spelling: Rickenbacher) took over the rights and began installing Vib-Rolas on its Electro Spanish guitars, as well as its lap-steel guitars. A little later, the Rickenbacher Vib-Rola Spanish, a variant of the Electro Spanish, featured a bar-less, motorized version of the VibRola with knobs for speed and volume. The Vib-Rola earned its place in the annals of tremolo-bar history by ending up on the 1958 Rickenbacker 325, which John Lennon used as the Beatles began their ascent to the pop throne. However, because the Vib-Rola was seemingly incapable of smoothly returning to correct pitch after even light use, it never became as timeless as the Fab Four’s discography. When Lennon returned to Liverpool, he went to Hessy’s Music Centre to have the Vib-Rola replaced with a unit that avoided many of the problems associated with Doc Kauffman’s design. Vibrato Goes Big with the Bigsby Introduced in 1952 and patented in 1953, the Bigsby vibrato was the first successful production tremolo system. Although exact details of its chronology are a little sketchy, it seems legendary country picker Merle Travis became friends with guitar builder and fellow motorcycling enthusiast Paul Bigsby in 1944 or ’45. At some point Travis mentioned to Bigsby—who boldly proclaimed he could fix anything—that his Kauffman Vib-Rola-equipped Gibson L-10 wouldn’t stay in tune. Though it’s unclear whether Bigsby ever worked on Travis’s Vib-Rola, historians believe this interaction focused Bigsby’s mind on developing a better vibrato. However, according to vintageguitar guru Deke Dickerson, Travis obtained a custom Bigsby guitar—the first modern solidbody— in mid 1948, years before getting a Bigsby vibrato. It wasn’t until 1952 that Travis received Bigsby’s first vibrato unit. The future Country Music Hall of Fame inductee then had the aluminum-alloy design installed on his Gibson Super 400. Bigsby’s first guitar design to come equipped with the vibrato was the doubleneck he built for country guitarist Grady Martin in October 1952. It didn’t take long for the vibrato system to gain popularity among guitarists worldwide. John Lennon’s friend Chris Huston, guitarist for Liverpool band the Undertakers, had a Gibson guitar with a factoryinstalled Bigbsy. Lennon liked Huston’s Bigsby so much that, in May of Left: A 1930s Rickenbacher Spanish Model B 6-string with a Kauffman Vib-Rola. Photo by Robert Corwin Right: Tremolo pioneer Paul Bigsby finished work on this guitar for country session ace Jimmy Bryant on October 7, 1949, though it ended up going to Ernest Tubb sideman Billy Byrd. The vibrato—which is inset to be flush against the guitar’s top—was added not long after the design’s introduction in ’52. Photo courtesy of Bigsby/Fred Gretsch Enterprises, Ltd. premierguitar.com PREMIER GUITAR NOVEMBER 2013 33
  • 31. Though the Fender Strat’s “Synchronized Tremolo” from 1954 is arguably the most-used vibrato system in the world (see the U.S. patent diagram at right), in the ’60s far more players were using the trem found on the company’s Jaguar (left) and Jazzmaster guitars. Photo by Tim Mullally 1960, Huston contacted Paul Bigsby to request a unit for Lennon. One day in 1961, Lennon approached Huston with the news that his Bigsby had arrived. The pair went to Hessy’s and swapped out Lennon’s Vib-Rola for the Bigsby. There are many similar stories of music icons adopting the Bigsby. Bigsbys are often found on hollowbody and semi-hollowbody guitars because the vibrato mounts to the guitar’s top and is less physically invasive than other systems. The Bigsby’s spring-loaded rocker arm attaches to a pivoting axle that the strings wrap around. The pull of the strings works in conjunction with the pressure of the spring. When the arm is pushed down, the bridge rocks forward and the strings loosen, lowering their pitch. When pressure on the arm is released, the strings return to pitch. Although Paul Bigsby’s design improved on many of its predecessors’ shortcomings, it’s by no means a lowmaintenance piece of machinery. Pre1956 versions had a fixed-position vibrato 34 PREMIER GUITAR NOVEMBER 2013 arm that got in the way of strumming. Once the swivel arm was introduced, the bridge became much more popular. Even so, if you pull the bar up, there’s risk of the spring falling out. Additionally, string changes can be tricky and more time consuming than with some more modern designs. But for countless Bigsby devotees in genres ranging from country to rockabilly to indie rock, these inconveniences are a small price to pay for the smooth, undulating magic of a Bigsby. A Legend Is Born Perhaps the most enduring and influential vibrato for solidbody guitars is Fender’s Synchronized Tremolo, one of the many innovations introduced in 1954 with the debut of the Stratocaster. Countless solidbody trem variations have come and gone over the years, and nearly all of them owe a lot to Leo Fender’s masterpiece of engineering. This design is what’s referred to as a “floating,” fulcrum-style tremolo. It can only be used with solidbody guitars, and it features a base with a steel block connected perpendicularly to its underside. This block extends downward into a cavity extending through the body. From the back of the guitar, strings are threaded through holes in the bottom of the tremolo block, which is visible through a route cut in a plastic plate. The same plate covers a shallower cavity where three to five springs connect the block to a “claw” screwed into the body. The two screws securing the claw can be loosened or tightened to adjust spring tension and accommodate different string gauges. The springs counterbalance the pull of the strings and facilitate the floating design, which can be set up to allow both downward and upward pitch bends. It can also be set up for down-only movement. In fact, to ensure that the bridge can’t go upward, some guitarists even wedge a block of wood between the steel block and the cavity wall. premierguitar.com
  • 32. Introduced in 1965 on the Mustang guitar, Fender’s “Dynamic Vibrato” was mechanically similar to the Jazzmaster/ Jaguar tremolo. Its redesigned bridge featured saddles with a single, deeper string groove that solved many problems with the prior setup, making it a popular upgrade for many Jazzmaster and Jaguar owners. Photo by Tim Mullally The Synchronized Tremolo also enables action and intonation adjustments. Each string has its own saddle made of casehardened stamped steel, and each saddle features two screws for adjusting string height. Behind each saddle is a screw that moves the saddle forward or backward to fine-tune each string’s intonation. Despite all its advances, the Fender Strat trem still has limitations. Under extreme use, it typically has tuning issues. Some remedy the situation by making sure their Strat’s nut slots are smoothly cut and lubricated, or by reducing the number of string winds around the peg. Ultimately, though, some tuning compromises are virtually unavoidable if your playing calls for aggressive bar action. Although today far more players use Strat tremolos, in the late ’50s and throughout most of the ’60s, Strat sales were in a major slump and other Fender models were selling much better. When the Jazzmaster guitar was introduced in 1958, it featured what the company touted as its “top-of-the-line” tremolo system. Unlike the Strat, the Jazzmaster had a separate bridge with six saddles, and the mechanisms of pitch transposition were mounted to a chrome plate set into a shallow cavity on the guitar’s top. The trem also had a slider to lock it in place to keep the guitar in tune in case of string breakage. 36 PREMIER GUITAR NOVEMBER 2013 In 1962 Fender debuted the Jaguar, which used the same floating trem as the Jazzmaster. Both guitars are infamous for their troublesome bridge designs, which often let strings slip out of their multiridged saddles under even moderate attack. That said, the design became integral to surf players, as well as guitarists who would use the instruments’ unique appointments as a foundation for more raucous styles in later years. Today, many players replace the original Jazzmaster bridge with a Mastery or Tune-o-matic-style bridge. In 1965 Fender released the Mustang guitar, whose floating Dynamic Vibrato shared similarities with the Jazzmaster and Jaguar systems, though its bridge was mounted to the vibrato plate. While the Mustang’s bridge was similar to the one on Jazzmasters and Jaguars, its saddles featured a single, deeper groove that alleviated many of the earlier design’s problems. Introduced in 1967, the Bronco student guitar used a variant of the Strat trem called the Steel Vibrato, which had two pivot points rather than six. Gibson Sideways and Maestro Vibrolas Some of Gibson’s most coveted guitars from the 1960s came with vibrato designs that looked handsome but were fairly impractical due to their limited range and tuning issues. First available in early 1961 on ES-355s and Les Paul SGs, the “sideways” Vibrola—so named because its jointed, foldable tremolo arm moves parallel to the body—is paired with a Tune-o-matic bridge, and its pitchchanging apparatus is encased in a long tray that extends from the bridge to the strap endpin. Under the tray’s elegantly molded cover, the handle connects to a mechanism that moves two pistonlike springs on either side of the whole assembly. When the arm is activated, the springs alter the lateral position of the piece to which the strings are anchored (the section with the triangle-shaped hole). According to Lin Crowson, repair and appraisal specialist at Gruhn Guitars in Nashville, the amount of pitch variation possible with a sideways Vibrola varies by the tension adjustment on the two internal springs, though it can go anywhere from one-and-a-half to three full steps or more. Available on Gibsons SG Specials in late 1961, the Maestro Vibrola was quite simple compared to other tremolos of the day. Viewed from its side, it is essentially a question-mark-shaped metal base that attaches to the guitar top with three screws. A separate piece of metal—the premierguitar.com
  • 33. Above: A vintage Mosrite Ventures model featuring one of the earliest Vibramute tremolos. Photo by Deke Dickerson Right: A set of Original Floyd Rose trem parts. Photo courtesy of Banzai Music piece to which both the strings and the vibrato arm are secured—slides over the top of the curved “question mark.” Pushing on the arm changes the curvature of the base, thus altering tension on the strings. Gibson later introduced a model with a “Lyre” portion that extended from the bridge to the endpin, similar to the sideways Vibrola. In 1962, SG and SG Customs were also available with a version of the tremolo that had an ebony block with art-deco-like inlays behind the bridge. Both the Lyre and the block were purely cosmetic additions. According to Gruhn Guitars’ Lin Crowson, though the original Maestro Vibrola and ebony-block versions attach differently than the Lyre version, the mechanisms of pitch transposition are the same. All three offer a subtler vibrato effect than other designs, with treble strings being affected more due to their proximity to the point of arm attachment. Typical pitch changes can be from one-and-a-half to two-and-a-half steps, depending on the angle of the bar, string gauge, and how much spring is left in the metal. Semie Moseley—Apprentice to the Stars In the late ’50s, Semie Moseley—a former apprentice to both Rickenbacker luthier 38 PREMIER GUITAR NOVEMBER 2013 Roger Rossmeissl and Paul Bigsby—started a quirky guitar company called Mosrite, which soon became a favorite of many country and rock musicians. One of Moseley’s first instruments was a doubleneck he built for country picker and TV star Joe Maphis in 1954. It featured an aluminum Vibramute tremolo. The Vibramute bears some visual similarity to a Bigsby but is exclusively top-mounted and has a foam-rubber string mute. Strings are fed through a string stop, to which the tremolo arm is connected, and mounted to saddles with individual string rollers that move with the string when the bar is used. A few years later, Moseley changed the trem to a die-cast design, did away with the mute, added a longer arm, and called the resulting model the Moseley tremolo. It appeared on popular Mosrite guitars such as the Ventures models used by the surf-instrumental icons, as well as Johnny Ramone. The Floyd Rose Revolution In 1977 Floyd Rose designed a fulcrumstyle vibrato bridge that aimed to achieve better tuning stability than Fender’s design. The “double-locking” tremolo that bears his name allows users to clamp each string at the bridge and the nut. The Floyd Rose played a significant role in shaping the sound of ’80s rock, facilitating over-the-top guitar histrionics by allowing an unprecedented amount of whammy-bar abuse while meticulously maintaining the guitar’s tuning. In some ways, the design is as integral to hard rock and metal as Marshall and Mesa/Boogie amplifiers, and high-output pickups by the likes of DiMarzio and EMG. Floyd Rose was inspired to develop his bridge after applying Krazy Glue to his Strat’s strings after they were tuned to pitch. Before long the tuning problems returned, so he tried a more permanent strategy: He rented machinery to make locking nuts and bridges. When Randy Hansen—an infamous Jimi Hendrix impersonator and noted whammy-bar abuser—got a hold of the second Floyd Rose prototype, he found that his guitar remained perfectly in tune even after he stomped on the bar and then tossed the axe in the air, catching it by the bar. That’s when Rose knew his device would be a game changer— though it was the next Floyd owner who put the trem on the map. Rose’s friend Linn Ellsworth of Boogie Bodies was making guitars for Eddie Van Halen, the world’s biggest guitar hero at the time. Rose showed Van Halen the unit and he was quickly sold. Rose struck a deal with Kramer guitars to be the exclusive distributor of the trem despite the fact that the guitar manufacturer had planned to use the Rockinger trem, a locking-nut design that they had referred to as “the Eddie Van Halen tremolo.” Van Halen’s iconic, Floyd-equipped “Frankenstrat” went on to become the decade’s defining axe, and Floyd Rose mania ensued. The Floyd Rose consists of a floating bridge and a locking nut. Unlike conventional bridges that rely on the ball end to keep the string in place, the Floyd Rose necessitates cutting off the ball end just above wrappings. The string end is inserted in a saddle, and a small metal block clamps the strings in place when you tighten the 3 mm hex screw at the back of the bridge (in the same location as a Strat bridge’s intonation screw). Up at the nut are three square pieces of metal, each of which tightens down on a pair of strings via another 3mm hex screw once the guitar is tuned. When the strings are locked in place, the headstock tuners have no effect on tuning. However, small adjustments (roughly a whole-step’s worth) can be made via fine tuners at the rear of the bridge. One downside of the fine tuners: Because of their location, they can sometimes obstruct a player’s picking hand, particularly if the player rests their hand on the bridge. premierguitar.com
  • 34. The biggest pitfall of the Floyd Rose, however, is that if it is set to float and a string breaks, the whole guitar will go out of tune. Because of this—and the fact that changing a string on a Floyd Roseequipped guitar takes longer than on many other bridge designs—many Floyd users always bring backup guitars to gigs. Kahler’s Threat to the Kingdom of Floyd Perhaps the most direct competitor to the Floyd Rose was the tremolo designed by Gary Kahler. In the late ’70s Kahler premierguitar.com had a guitar hardware company called Brass Factory that made brass versions of the Fender trem and developed several bridges with Fender. In the ’80s Kahler changed the company name to American Precision Metalworks and soon unveiled the Kahler tremolo. The Kahler trem had several unmistakable Floyd-inspired design features, including a locking nut and fine tuners on the bridge assembly— enough to warrant a patent-infringement judgment against Kahler. Unlike the Floyd Rose however, the Kahler is a cambased system—strings attach to a single cylindrical cam inside the bridge housing. Furthermore, Kahlers didn’t require snipping the ball ends off of strings. The battle raged between Floyd Rose and Kahler throughout the first golden age of shred, with many flashy players pledging allegiance to one system or the other. In the end, Kahler lost a patentinfringement lawsuit and the balance of power went to Floyd. In 2005, however, Kahler began manufacturing bridges again under Floyd Rose licenses. To this day, the company has produced over a million trems. Left: An example of Kahler’s cambased lockingtremolo design. Photo courtesy of Banzai Music Beyond Tuning Stability As double-locking trems grew in popularity, numerous aftermarket addons emerged. Some players who preferred the vintage feel, low profile, and lesscomplicated operation of Strat-style bridges turned to locking tuners and more sophisticated and finely tuned fulcrum designs by the likes of Wilkinson, or the John Mann-designed bridges on Paul Reed Smith guitars. Meanwhile, some shredoriented guitar brands developed their own versions of the double-locking recipe, as Ibanez did with its many iterations of the Floyd Rose-inspired Edge tremolo. Most of these, however, owed a debt to Floyd Rose designs and were marked with language such as “Licensed under Floyd Rose Patents.” (continued on p. 42) PREMIER GUITAR NOVEMBER 2013 39
  • 35. Players Who Put Tremolo on the Map S ince the vibrato bridge’s invention nearly 80 years ago, creative guitarists have used it to change the vernacular of the electric guitar. Here we take a look at some of those tremolo-bar pioneers and the sounds they created. Bigsby Bouncers To this day, the Bigsby is one of the most popular tremolo systems on the market. It’s a factory option on guitars by Gretsch, Gibson, PRS, and others. Compared to more modern tremolos, the Bigbsy has a relatively limited range of pitch manipulation. However, those who swear by it do so because fulcrum- and cam-based designs with greater range simply can’t match the subtle charm, vintage vibe, and unique timbres that the Bigsby imparts. The image of a Bigsby-equipped hollowbody guitar through a reverb-drenched amp has withstood the test of time. The Bigsby is often the trem of choice for rockabilly, country, surf, and indie rock players. Artists like Brian Setzer, Chet Atkins, and Duane Eddy have all made great use of it. Check out the warbles on Setzer’s “Stray Cat Strut” or his rendition of “Sleepwalk,” the gently rocking chord punctuations on Atkins’ “Mr. Sandman,” and the open-string Bigsby twang on Eddy’s “Movin’ ‘n’ Groovin’.” But when push comes to shove, the Bigsby can scream. Neil Young, “The Godfather of Grunge,” has never been one to treat the Bisgbsy with kid gloves—he mauls his Bigsby-equipped Les Paul like a metal maniac on tunes like “Cowgirl in the Sand”— and pretty much every other song at his live shows. Fender Forefathers The Strat’s Synchronized Tremolo system is almost as important to music history as the guitar itself. It paved the way for groundbreaking moments too numerous to count. Perhaps the most memorable moment in Strat trem history was Jimi Hendrix’s jaw-dropping 1969 performance of the “Star Spangled Banner” at Woodstock. Jimi shook both guitarists and music fans to the core with his erotic, violent whammy bar attack, conjuring howling, swirling feedback and trills that divebombed into oblivion. But it wasn’t Hendrix alone who immortalized Strat trem. From delicate, faux-slide sounds to soulful melodic caresses, Jeff Beck’s tremolo technique practically transforms the guitar into a new 40 PREMIER GUITAR NOVEMBER 2013 instrument. The former Yardbird sets up his Strat trems so they float, often gripping the bar with the tips of all his picking-hand fingers while plucking stings with his thumb and performing volume swells with his pinky. Listen to his tremolo bar work on songs like “Goodbye Pork Pie Hat” and “Where Were You.” And let’s not forget the impact of Fender Jazzmaster and Jaguar tremolos on the ’60s surf sound. The Surfaris’ Jim Fuller and Bob Berryhill used Jazzmaster trem to fuel their megahit “Wipe Out”, while the Surftones’ Dave Meyers warbled his Jaguar’s tremolo to great effect on “Church Key.” More recently, Nels Cline used Jazzmaster trem to great effect on Wilco’s “Impossible Germany,” as did Kevin Shields on My Bloody Valentine’s “Come in Alone.” Gibson Vibrola Fans The “sideways” and Maestro Vibrolas developed by Gibson in the early ’60s weren’t terribly popular due to their limited practicality. However, Jimi Hendrix used a Maestro Vibrolaequipped Gibson Flying V for “Red House,” and today players such as Mike Campbell (Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers) and Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy still have great affinity for them. Campbell is often seen with a Maestro-outfitted Gibson Firebird, and Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy often wails the Maestro on his SG Standard on live renditions of “At Least That’s What You Said.” Mosrite Surfers When Semie Moseley loaned a guitar to Ventures guitarist Nokie Edwards for a recording, both the band and Moseley’s Mosrite guitars skyrocketed to fame. When the band used the instruments live to play hits like “Walk Don’t Run,” with its tremolo shimmies on the held C note at the end of the iconic riff and the chords that follow it, it cemented the Mosrite tremolo’s place in whammy bar history. Floyd Abusers/Gods Using a standard Fender trem, Eddie Van Halen eviscerated rock guitar fans with his paradigm-shifting 1978 instrumental, “Eruption.” But his extreme pummeling of the bar soon led him to embrace double-locking tremolos for better tuning stability. By the second Van Halen album, he’d adopted the Floyd Rose and ushered in a new era of bizarre bar antics that, along with tapping and screaming harmonics, set the standard for guitar premierguitar.com
  • 36. mastery in the ’80s. There are too many examples to cite, but the Floyd Rose-driven insanity in his solo for Michael Jackson’s “Beat It” is perhaps most indicative of his impact. As the shred era caught fire, the guitarist David Lee Roth recruited after exiting Van Halen also carved a career out of whammified sounds. Dissatisfied with the upward range on his Floyds, Steve Vai used a hammer and screwdriver to chisel the area behind the bridge of his Charvel “Green Meanie” so he could pull the bar up further. He took advantage of this newfound range to achieve stratosphere-scraping squeals on songs like the odd-meterlaced “The Attituide Song.” After joining Roth’s solo band, Vai premierguitar.com used the bar in combination with a wah pedal to create a wild vocal effect on their first single, “Yankee Rose.” For many players, it expanded the horizons of whammy use. Interstellar Travelers of the TransTrem Ned Steinberger’s TransTrem also offered a goldmine of riches for outside–the–box artists like Allan Holdsworth, who used the transposing vibrato to augment his already befuddling harmonic tapestries for an effect similar to what synth players get with a pitch wheel. To this day Holdsworth uses TT2 and TT3 TransTrems cannibalized from older Steinbergers on axes built by Canton Custom Guitars. Because of its complexity, some dismissed the TransTrem a niche piece of gear for esoteric styles. But Eddie Van Halen shattered such notions by employing the TransTrem in a straight-up hard rock setting. Van Halen used a pin-striped, TransTrem-equipped Steinberger GL on songs like “Get Up” and “Summer Nights” from 5150, the first Van Halen album with Sammy Hagar as lead vocalist. PREMIER GUITAR NOVEMBER 2013 41
  • 37. (continued from p. 39) Above: The Stetsbar mounts to guitars such as a Gibson Les Paul Junior without requiring any drilling. Right: The Steinberger ZT-3 guitar introduced in 2008 featured the third version of Ned Steinberger’s innovative TransTrem design, which keeps entire chords in correct pitch during use and lets you lock the bridge in six different keys. Below: The Vibramate lets you add a Bigsby to Teles and other guitars without drilling new holes. Floyd Rose developed new designs, too, including the SpeedLoader, which eliminated the time-consuming need to snip off the strings’ ball ends, though it necessitated buying proprietary strings. Eddie Van Halen’s EVH brand also released the D-Tuna—a simple device that replaces the string-locking screw of a Floyd Rose’s low-E saddle and that, when pulled, instantly lowers the string’s pitch to D. Ned Steinberger took the locking and detuning concepts even further with 1984’s Steinberger TransTrem bridge. The TransTrem, an evolution of his original S-Trem design, appeared on Steinberger headless guitars. It used special doubleball strings (though a single-ball string adapter was later offered) and allowed entire chords to stay in tune as the bar was manipulated. Perhaps the most unique feature of the TransTrem was that it allowed you to raise or lower pitch with the bar and then lock the bridge in place in order to play in six different keys—as far down as a perfect 4th (B-standard tuning), or up a minor 3rd (G-standard). Headless guitar manufacturers like Klein made the TransTrem standard equipment on their designs. After Steinberger stopped producing TransTrem-equipped guitars, the trems themselves became hot commodities, fetching upwards 42 PREMIER GUITAR NOVEMBER 2013 of $1,000 on eBay. The scarcity and expense proved to be a significant impediment to headless guitar manufacturers, who turned to alternate solutions such as JCustom’s recently released XS-Trem, a direct replacement for the Steinberger S-Trem. Since then, manufacturers such as Carvin have explored headless guitars, including the Allan Holdsworth HH1 and HH2. In 2008 Ned Steinberger introduced an updated version called the TransTrem 3, which coincided with the release of the Steinberger ZT–3 guitar. Going Where No Trem Has Gone Before For a long while, the evolution of vibrato bridges seemed to coincide with the development of more modern playing styles. But many Les Paul and Tele fans secretly longed to join the whammy parade without sacrificing what they love about those unique guitar designs. However, those with vintage instruments were apprehensive about permanently modifying them, because any irreversible modification would severely impact a guitar’s value. Thankfully, many innovations have come to market to address these concerns. Back in the ’80s Eric Stets wanted a trem on his ’71 Gibson Les Paul Custom but didn’t want to drill holes in it. He subsequently designed and patented the Stetsbar, which fits existing bridges and doesn’t require any guitar modification. He also offers versions for Strats, Teles, and other guitar designs. Meanwhile, the Vibramate kit lets Bigsby fans mount the spring-powered legend to the studs of a stop-tail bridge without drilling. For Teles, you simply swap your “ashtray” bridge assembly with a modified Vibramate bridge that fits in the existing holes. It connects to a tailpiece secured by the strap endpin. The Bigsby mounts on the tailpiece rather than the guitar body. To Infinity and Beyond Though they’re the unequivocal benchmarks of vibrato design, the models discussed here are only the tip of the trem iceberg in terms of sheer numbers. Likewise, the players mentioned are merely those most immediately associated with each device them in the broader guitar consciousness. Countless other players have enriched our lives with inventive, soul-touching vibrato work. As with everything in our gear universe, nothing will stop the wheels of change. Given how far tremolos have come, it may seem difficult to fathom where designs could go next. But at least one company seems poised on the brink of the future. EverTune’s tension-monitoring bridge wowed guitarists the world over in 2010 with its promise to never let a guitar go out of tune, regardless of temperature, climate, or heavy-handed playing. At press time, the company told us they are about a year away from offering a tremolo version that’s sure to make waves. And yet the designs we’ve come to love, whether vintage or modern, are sure to remain popular for a long time to come. Whether you’re the one wiggling that bar, or the one enjoying it from the crowd, there’s no denying the power of the tremolo. premierguitar.com
  • 38. PLAY WITH FIRE. If you’re the type of player who thinks heavy can always be heavier, and 11 just ain’t loud enough... Enormous Door might just be your new best friend. From the hot-rodded tube-like gain of the FOAD Mosfet Distortion, to the big bottom low end punch of the PDX Classic Distortion, you’ll find the perfect red-hot sound for sonic dominance. Explore the sheer molten mayhem of the SCUD Fat Fuzz, or the explosive sounds of the JINN Octave Fuzz for studio sounds that you have to hear to believe. Add the spark of brilliance to your tone using the nice bite of the BSO Classic Overdrive, or light it on fire with the dynamic chord clarity and tube-like harmonics of the ATX Dynamic Overdrive. WARNING: DO NOT USE AROUND CHILDREN UNDER 12, SMALL ANIMALS, OR ADULTS WITH PACEMAKERS. HEAR CLIPS AND LEARN ABOUT OUR UNIQUE DESIGNS AT: WWW.ENORMOUSDOOR.COM FIND US ON FX FOR GUITAR & BASS HAND BUILT IN AUSTIN, TX © 2013 ENORMOUS DOOR AUDIO, LLC.
  • 39. Modern Builder Vault Red Rocket Guitars By Rich Osweiler A fter a busy decade of concentrating on marriage, work, and kids, Matthew Nowicki came to the frightening realization that somehow he didn’t have a guitar in the house anymore. For someone who started playing at the age of 12, that just wasn’t a good sign. He decided to get back into it, but couldn’t afford the pricey guitars he was digging at the time. So when he saw a banged-up vintage Tele with a snapped neck and no pickups for $100, he grabbed it. In just a few months, he taught himself the art of guitar repair while working it back into shape. A friend of Nowicki’s loved the results of the Tele project so much that he offered to buy the guitar. Nowicki sold it to him and bought another broken instrument. After completing this cycle a few more times, Nowicki began designing and building his own guitars from scratch, starting with a batch of five. When he put up a website Vintage Burst Commander The elegant-looking Vintage Burst Commander is an eye-pleasing presentation of top-of-line materials. Its chambered body is cut from black limba and blanketed with private-reserve flame maple for the carved top, while the black limba neck is topped with a ziricote fretboard that’s adorned with abalone top and side dots. Nowicki went with more flame maple for the head plate, pickup rings, and body and neck binding. For a bevy of versatile tones, it’s packed with a pair of Imperial humbuckers from Lollar, as well as a Graph Tech ghost system piezo. 44 PREMIER GUITAR NOVEMBER 2013 touting his wares, within a few months he had enough orders to build guitars full-time, which the North Carolina-based luthier has been doing for five years now. “It was kind of an accident that it turned into a career,” he says. The self-taught luthier has been making art as long as he can remember and says it seemed natural to start building guitars. “I’ve always loved working with my hands and creating beautiful eye-catching objects,” says Nowicki, whose college major was sculpture. “When I was repairing broken guitars, I kept having ideas for interesting finishes, details, and shapes. There is a huge amount of information out there to learn how to build guitars, but like most things, the majority of the learning happens by just keeping on building with the attitude of trying to make the next one even better.” In this quest, Nowicki notes the importance of sourcing quality components. “I like the standard woods like mahogany, maple, and rosewood, but I really believe that every guitar has a unique voice,” he says. “Two guitars made from the same materials will still have slightly different tones because every piece of wood is different.” The luthier likes using wood in interesting combinations to create unique voices and looks, but says the quality of the wood is always the most important thing. “Beautiful wood is wonderful, but it has to sound good, too.” When it comes to electronics, Nowicki has tried most pickups on the market. “Smaller boutique builders really do create a superior product,” he says. “Lindy Fralin, Jason Lollar, Pete Biltoft and TV Jones make some of the best pickups I’ve used.” Most of Nowicki’s customers have very specific ideas, so almost all of his builds are custom. It can be time consuming since unique jigs and tooling are needed for almost every instrument—but, of course, it’s worth it. “Working with clients to figure out their dream guitar is loads of fun and always results in something interesting,” says Nowicki. “I love thinking up new combinations of colors, wood, and sound, and seeing the instrument emerge at the end into something that has a life of its own.” redrocketguitars.com Pricing & Availability Nowicki can be contacted directly through his website, which also provides information for the dealers he works with. Nowicki makes approximately 30-40 guitars a year, but he plans to expand and recently took on a parttime assistant in the shop. The current build time for a Red Rocket guitar is approximately five months. Builds average about $2,950 and Nowicki contends that his guitars are rarely more than $4,500. premierguitar.com
  • 40. StyleSonic (Above Left) This guitar features a body carved from solid, black limba, adorned with cocobolo binding and checker purfling. Its C-shaped neck is constructed from rock maple and is topped with a premium-rosewood fretboard. The StyleSonic is loaded with a set of Lindy Fralin Blues Special Strat-style pickups, which he says helps this axe deliver “classic tones with an extra helping of rich and twangy goodness, but no icepick highs.” Ash Top Custom Atomic (Above Right & Inset) Shaped like a Tele but with much more than meets the eye, this mahogany-body Atomic is topped with intensely figured ash that’s been finished with a vintage ’burst and then dressed with a thinline-style parchment pickguard. Going with flame maple for the neck, Nowicki outfitted it with a bocote fretboard that’s adorned with white motherof-pearl for the top and side dots. The pickup trio is made up of a TV Jones T-Armond in the neck, a Lindy Fralin reverse-wound Strat-style in the middle, and a Lindy Fralin overwound P-90 in the bridge. premierguitar.com PREMIER GUITAR NOVEMBER 2013 45
  • 41. A Brief History of Tremolo (from 900 to 1963 A.D.) Photo by Chris Gray Tremolo is as old as the human voice. But how and when did it become a guitar effect? By Dan Formosa I set out to investigate the earliest recorded examples of guitarists using tremolo and the equipment they used to do it. You might think, as I did, that the story starts somewhere in the 1930s or ’40s. But the search took me much further back: specifically, to the 9th-century Byzantine Empire and 16th-century Europe. Obviously, there were no electric guitars then, but tremolo was being used as a musical device more than a millennium ago. After exploring those origins, we’ll leap ahead to the mechanical tremolo contraptions of the 1800s, and finally, the electronic tremolo circuits of the 20th century. We’ll encounter the first electronic tremolo (created for organs, not guitars) and the first electronic guitar tremolo, which also happened to be the first electric guitar effect box. We’ll look at the first tremolo amps that appeared in the late 1940s, and we’ll conclude in 1963, when Fender introduced their thenradical photocell tremolo circuit. premierguitar.com In use by early 1940s, the DeArmond Tremolo Control was the first commercially produced electric guitar effect. PREMIER GUITAR NOVEMBER 2013 47
  • 42. By “Tremolo,” We Mean…. Our focus is the history of musicians’ ability to oscillate the volume of a note, not its pitch. Oscillating pitch change is properly referred to as vibrato, not tremolo. But as you’ll see, the words have a long history of being confused. (There’s also another musical definition of tremolo: striking the same note many times in rapid succession, mandolin-style, a technique also known as tremolando.) Tremolo’s Ancient Origins This Byzantine carving from 900 A.D. suggests that musicians from this time period may have used tremolo effects on stringed instruments such as the lyra. 48 PREMIER GUITAR NOVEMBER 2013 But guess what? The changing pressure simultaneously alters volume and pitch. Therefore, the tremulant mechanism produced both tremolo and vibrato. In other words, the confusion between the two terms far predates Leo Fender’s decision to call the Stratocaster’s vibrato-producing whammy bar “tremolo.” We see this confusion again and again. By the late 17th century vibrato/ tremolo was being documented as a fluteplaying technique. Again, fluctuating air pressure in a flute produced both volume and pitch changes. Fast Forward In 1891, George Van Dusen patented a device similar in many ways to the vibrato-producing whammy bars we know today in 1891. His mechanism, designed for any stringed instrument, anchors the string at the short end of a spring-loaded lever. A push on the lever pulls the string tighter, raising its pitch, after which a spring attached to the lever returns the string to its original pitch. The result is vibrato, though Van Dusen called it tremolo in the U.S. patent application. But Van Dusen (or should I say Munn & Company, his patent attorneys?) Above: Photo by Dave Fey Right: This Storytone piano by is one of only 150 made and was the world’s first electric piano model. It debuted at the 1939 World’s Fair and the early models had DeArmond tremolo units mounted under the keyboard. Oscillating the volume of a note is an ancient technique—we’ve been able to do it with our voices as long as we’ve been capable of singing or yelling. For centuries musicians have sought ways to impart this wavering, voice-like quality to notes and chords. Any musician playing a bowed stringed instrument can create tremolo— they simply move the bow back and forth while sustaining a note, as we’ve seen countless violinists and cellists do. (Their bowwielding hand provides tremolo, while the hand quivering on the fingerboard varies the pitch of the strings, producing vibrato.) We don’t know exactly when and where the first bowed instruments originated, but there’s a Byzantine carving from around 900 A.D. depicting a scantily clad cherub holding an extremely long bow against the strings of an instrument known as a lyra. We don’t know whether lyra players used tremolo effects, but the technique was available. How far back must we go to find an instrument that produces tremolo mechanically? Sixteenth-century pipe organs used slightly detuned pitches played simultaneously to create an undulating effect. One of the earliest mechanical tremolos can be found on the 1555 pipe organ in the San Martino Maggiore church in Bologna, Italy. It includes several effeti speziali (auxiliary stops), including drums, birdcalls, drones, bells, and tremulant—a mechanism that opened and closed a diaphragm to vary the air pressure. As the pressure varied, so did the volume. premierguitar.com
  • 43. Photo Credit: Fred San Filipo Mod is Where It’s At. Real Mods, Real Twang, Real Vibrato. Guitar guru Bill Hook and Premier Guitar recently took on the challenge of creating the ultimate Squier® Tele Modification: A Surf-Twang Tweak-a-Rama. Check out the end result at www.premierguitar.com/Bigsby-Mod We were thrilled to see Bill’s Bigsby Mod...And we want to see YOURS! Send pictures of your Bigsby Mod before, in process and after for a chance to be featured in a Bigsby Ad and on our website! www.bigsby.com Check out the B50 and B70 kits ... at your favorite guitar shop now! Send us an e-mail with a picture of you and YOUR Bigsby Mod to everythingyouneed@bigsby.com or send a picture to Bigsby, P.O. Box 2468, Savannah, GA 31402* for a chance to be featured with YOUR mod in an upcoming Bigsby ad! *Submitted photos will not be returned; submission constitutes permission to use photo in its entirety or edited form in print, on the web, or in promotional materials. Squier® and Tele® are registered trademarks of FMIC; Bigsby® is a registerd trademark of Fred Gretsch Enterprises. Photos courtesy of Premier Guitar Magazine.
  • 44. Andrew Appel’s patent for an early electronic tremolo device. 50 PREMIER GUITAR NOVEMBER 2013 premierguitar.com
  • 45. weren’t acting in isolation. The words tremolo and vibrato both found their way into patent vocabulary, where they were used interchangeably. Orville Lewis devised a somewhat similar device for violin in 1921. It worked by oscillating the bridge. Again, his device varied pitch, and again, the effect was called tremolo. Clayton Kauffmann created a sort of whammy bar for banjo in 1929. As with all whammy bars, the result was vibrato, not tremolo. And again, the product description used the word tremolo. There were devices that produced true tremolo, such as rotating fins on a piano cabinet that opened and closed a sound port, or a spinning mechanism for a wind instrument mouthpiece that modulated airflow. But unlike bowed and blown instruments, non-electric guitars have no innate tremolo techniques. It takes an amplified guitar and electronic circuitry to produce a wavering-volume effect. Early Electric Guitar Tremolo By 1941 the DeArmond company had developed what may have been the first effect unit for guitarists. It resides between the guitar and the amplifier like today’s effects. Inside the metal box is a small glass jar containing a water-based electrolytic fluid, which gets shaken by a motor. Inside the jar is a pin attached to the positive connection of the guitar cable. As liquid splashes against the pin, signal is shunted to ground. The result: great-sounding, liquid-like tremolo. The 1941 date is not based on the effect being used with guitars, but on the first electric pianos. Storytone pianos were manufactured by Story & Clark and developed in conjunction with RCA. They were first exhibited at the 1939 New York World’s Fair. By 1941 early models boasted DeArmond tremolo units mounted directly under the keyboard for easy access. In August of that year, pianists J. Russel Robinson and Teddy By 1941 the DeArmond company had developed what may have been the first effect unit for guitarists. Hale performed at the Chicagoland Music Festival, their state-of-the-art Storytones outfitted with both DeArmond units and Hammond Solovoxes (miniature, secondary keyboards, and some of the first synthesizers.) There wasn’t much musical instrument development during World War II, so the second effects box may have been Andrew Appel’s 1945 tremolo device. His design, housed in a metal box quite similar in shape to the DeArmond unit, arranged resistors in a circular pattern in ascending order of resistance. A motor rotated a contact that successively touched each resistor. The result, in theory, was the Straight Truth About Pickups by Jason Lollar The “magic” found in some (but not all) classic vintage pickups was created by accident. Don’t let anyone tell you different. And over time, some pretty stellar accidents happened. The only way to recreate that magic is to study more than a few exceptional examples of all the classic pickup types, while acquiring a thorough understanding of exactly what materials were used and precisely how each pickup was constructed and wound. Only then is the “magic” repeatable, if you are willing to spend the time and money required to chase the dragon. I am. I personally design and wind over 30 different pickup models, including all the vintage classics, many obscure works of art known only to lap and pedal steel players like Robert Randolph, and even a few of my own designs that never existed in the past. I invite you to visit our website for sound clips, videos and current product information, or call us for a free product highlight brochure. Lollar Guitars PO Box 2450 Vashon Island, WA 98070 (206) 463-9838 www.lollarguitars.com premierguitar.com PREMIER GUITAR NOVEMBER 2013 51
  • 46. Donald Leslie worked on several versions of this patent (his earliest attempt was in 1940). 52 PREMIER GUITAR NOVEMBER 2013 premierguitar.com
  • 47. CU BE- 80G CU BE- CU 40G X BE- X 20G X MIC RO C C CU GXR RO BE I I MIC CU RO GXW MIC B B BE CUB ITYw V ne X EG I ll- rs CTre, thpeeraformeetting’s E l d o NN uchprm setaegn mwirth Rol O dm o v o C e e, an an from fun cord ts, ne the d re S ec yo p R an u ef f er IE ul r ev icks tice, r f fo IF k c e ow ility ce pra PL , p rsat terfa lay, M p es e A on d v K in * to R p t s an LIN uch A m d ® a IT n BE to ps. U M l sou i-CU iPod c ap s S e G ck CO lev ard or usi ra ed top- nbo ad, S m gt in wn s e o , iP r iO ck e no er ba re deliv s. Th hon pula lar ith ies er r iP po pu d w ser amm you ther po e X j o ct ck ad Pa BE G oom onne and nlo U edr ly c AM ow C b J dd si to ea BE an om u CU re .c yo e mo ink fre rn BEL lea U *iPhone, iPad, iPod and iOS is a trademark of Apple, Inc., To it iC registered in the U.S. and other countries. vis EW N UB C ES W ITH iO S
  • 48. equivalent to quickly raising and lowering your guitar’s volume control. Again, even though the effect only changed volume, Appel described the device as creating “tremolo or vibrato effects in conjunction with an electric type stringed musical instrument.” (Note: I have never seen this unit and am not sure if it ever went into production. If anyone has further knowledge, please let us know!) Other mechanical innovations? Donald Leslie first attempted to patent a rotating horn device in 1940. (He abandoned that first version, but followed up in 1945 with an alternative.) His earliest design incorporated a stationary speaker that faced upward, its sound flowing into the small end of a rotating horn a bit like the ones on early Victrolas. His patent describes the effect as producing “pitch tremolo or vibrato.” The rotating horn or speaker in the classic Leslie cabinet produces tremolo and vibrato simultaneously. As the speaker or cone moves towards you, the sound waves move faster, slightly raising pitch. The pitch lowers slightly as the speaker moves away. Meanwhile, volume is greatest when the speaker faces you. Therefore “tremolo and vibrato” is an accurate description of the Leslie effect. The First Guitar Amp Tremolo You can’t be different if you’re playing what everyone else is. Visit reverendguitars.com to start your journey to becoming an individual. Nathan Daniel created the first guitar amplifier with vibrato in 1947, the year he founded the Danelectro company. He called it a “Vibrato System for Amplifiers,” and his extended description explains that the circuit produces a “tremolo or vibrato effect.” 54 PREMIER GUITAR NOVEMBER 2013 For centuries musicians have sought ways to impart a wavering, voice-like quality to notes and chords. The patent was granted in 1949, but we’re not sure exactly when the circuit was first used in a Danelectro amp. According to Nathan Daniel’s son Howard, “I have no knowledge of this, and I suspect there’s no living person who does. I can speculate, however, based on my knowledge of my dad, that he introduced tremolo sooner than 1950, as soon as he could following his application for a patent.” Tremolo definitely appears on Danelectro’s 1950s Special model amps. But Multivox and Gibson may have beaten Danelectro to the market with trem-equipped amps. A 1947 Multivox ad trumpets the company’s new model: “Guitarists! You owe it to yourself to try the new Premier ‘66’ Tremolo Amplifier. Yes, you too will be sold on this new amplifier from the very first trial. The builtin Electronic Tremolo lends a new organlike quality to your tone.” Meanwhile, Gibson’s first tremolo amp, the GA-50T, appeared in 1948. (Note to Magnate fans: While Magnatone began manufacturing steel guitar amps in the late 1930s, their first tremolo-enabled amplifier, the Vibra-Amp, didn’t arrive until 1955. Their “true vibrato” circuits, using varistors to alter pitch rather than volume, first appeared in 1957’s Custom 200 series.) premierguitar.com
  • 49. (or four) power tubes to share amplification duties. The Tremolux is unique in that the wavering voltage is sent to the cathode element of the phase inverter. The 1956 Vibrolux operates on the same basic principle, varying the bias. It also uses resistors and capacitors, enlisting only half of a 12AX7. (A single 12AX7 tube houses two separate triode tubes, which can be used independently.) The modulating voltage enters the guitar signal path after the phase inverter, The Premier “66” (below) may have been the first amp introduced with tremolo, in 1947. Gibson’s GA-50T (above) from 1948 was one of the first amps to feature a built-in tremolo effect. Fender’s first tremolo amp was 1955’s Tremolux. Later brownface and blackface Fender amps would feature radically different versions of the effect. acting on the grid elements of the two 6V6 power tubes. (The brownface amps Fender introduced in 1959—the Vibrasonic, Concert, and eventually other models—utilize a circuit called “harmonic vibrato.” It’s not exactly tremolo or vibrato, although it can certainly create that impression. Think of tremolo volume as a sine wave, with high and low peaks. Now think of a second tremolo wave, this time offset by 180 degrees. It would cancel the first tremolo—the summed AcmeGuitarWorks build a better guitar Prewired pickup and control assemblies, on templates or pickguards, for many popular guitars. Not inclined to spend your Saturday soldering? Then let us do it for you. The finest pickups.The finest components. And our own CNC-manufactured pickguards. Tone. We can help. The tremolo section of a vintage amp circuit (yes, it’s called “vibrato” on many amps and schematics) involves at least one tube. A wavering voltage affects the tube’s bias. How that wavering voltage is generated, and to which section of the amp circuit it is applied, account for the sonic differences between various tube tremolo circuits. Without getting too technical, let’s look at how they work, using several Fender tremolo amps as examples. Fender’s earliest tremolo amplifier appeared in 1955, relatively late in the game. The tremolo section in a ’55 Tremolux amp uses a 12AX7 tube, resistors, and capacitors to vary the voltage. All amps with two or more power tubes include a tube called a phase inverter, which splits the guitar signal to allow two premierguitar.com …Strat® assembly mounted on plastic template 772-770-1919 www.acmeguitarworks.com PREMIER GUITAR NOVEMBER 2013 55
  • 50. volume would be flat. However, the harmonic vibrato circuits send higher frequencies to one wave and lower frequencies to the other. There is no actual change in volume or pitch, but rather a sort of phase shift.) Fender’s next type of tremolo featured a very different system. The blackface amps that appeared in 1963 use a 12AX7 tube and a photocell to oscillate the voltage. That system employs a neon light to open and close the photocell. It acts on the grid of the phase inverter. Photocell tremolo tends to sound choppier than earlier bias variation circuits. (For an example of bias variation tremolo, listen to Otis Redding’s version of “A Change is Gonna Come,” featuring Steve Cropper on guitar. For photocell tremolo, try the Doors’ “Riders on the Storm.”) Early Tremolo Recordings Bluesman Big Bill Broonzy is probably the guitarist on several 1942 songs by singer/ pianist Roosevelt Sykes. The tremolo effect is unmistakable. With DeArmond tremolo boxes underway by 1941 and amplifiers incorporating tremolo circuits appearing by end of the decade, what are the earliest guitar tremolo recordings? Maybe a better question would be, why would DeArmond, Danelectro, or Gibson offer tremolo for guitar unless guitarists were experimenting with the effect? Since the Hammond company was using tremolo in its organs since the 1930s, the potential for early experimentation by guitarists certainly existed. With that thought in mind, I’ll share the oldest tremolo Bo Diddley made tremolo his trademark sound in 1955. Duane Eddy started using a DeArmond tremolo in 1957 to enhance the melody in his hit “Rebel Rouser.” Strings that offer unmatched durability with a consistently warm, true sound. martinguitar.com/strings 56 PREMIER GUITAR NOVEMBER 2013 premierguitar.com
  • 51. tracks I’ve uncovered so far. If you’re aware of earlier ones, please let us know. Guitar tremolo can clearly be heard on four songs that singer/pianist Roosevelt Sykes recorded in Chicago on April 16, 1942. “Are You Unhappy,” “You Can’t Do That to Me,” “Sugar Babe Blues,” and “Love Has Something to Say” probably feature Big Bill Broonzy playing through a DeArmond unit. Les Paul, electric guitar pioneer and mad scientist of the recording studio, may have used a subtle tremolo effect on his 1946 recording of “Sweet Hawaiian Moonlight.” You can hear Muddy Waters playing through a tremolo effect on his 1953 song “Flood.” Two years later Bo Diddley made tremolo a centerpiece of his sound, using a DeArmond unit on his 1955 hits “Bo Diddley,” “Diddley Daddy,” and “Pretty Thing.” By the late 1950s electric tremolo was in full swing. Duane Eddy famously incorporated it in many of his recordings. He obtained a DeArmond unit in 1957 and used it on “Rebel Rouser” the following year. According to Eddy, the tremolo effect was “cool because it was such a simple melody.” His other tremolo-based songs include “Stalkin’,” “Cannonball,” “The Lonely One,” and “Forty Miles of Bad Road.” Also in 1958, Link Wray recorded “Rumble,” where you can hear the effect being turned on in the final portion of the song. The 1960s brought an entirely new wave of tremolo-infused amps, effect pedals, and “Crimson and Clover” by Tommy James & the Shondells showcases the tremolo sound that boomed in the 1960s. premierguitar.com PREMIER GUITAR NOVEMBER 2013 57
  • 52. guitar recordings—far more than we can cover here. But even a short list of great trem-fueled ’60s classics reveals how much the effect contributed to the decade’s sound. The Staple Singers Slim Harpo, “Baby, Scratch My Back” Tommy James & the Shondells, “Crimson and Clover” The Shadows, “Apache” Buffalo Springfield, “For What It’s Worth” Creedence Clearwater Revival, “Born on the Bayou” The Rolling Stones, “Gimme Shelter” Let’s conclude our early history of tremolo with two songs that demonstrate how compelling tremolo can be: The Staple Singers 1956 recording of “Uncloudy Day” (search “Uncloudy Day - The Staple Singers on YouTube), with Pops Staples on guitar, and Nancy Sinatra’s “Bang Bang,” with L.A. session ace Billy Strange (search “Nancy Sinatra Bang Bang on YouTube). Both songs feature vocals, tremolo guitar, and nothing else. When you have an effect this dramatic and powerful, who needs a band? Big thanks to everyone who helped with this article: Deed and Duane Eddy, Matt Celichowski, John Peden, Shane Nicholas, Stan Cotey and Jason Farrell of Fender Musical Instruments, Bradley StauchenScherer, Ken Moore and Naomi Takafuchi of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Deke Dickerson, Ira Padnos, Chris Smith, and Gary Atkinson of Document Records. TAKE YOUR PICK Your Source For Low Prices On Top Brands pg_090513_Take Your Pick.indd 1 58 PREMIER GUITAR NOVEMBER 2013 9/13/13 1:31 PM premierguitar.com
  • 53. Vintage vault 60 PREMIER GUITAR NOVEMBER 2013 premierguitar.com
  • 54. 1937 Gibson EH-150 Guitar and Amp BY Dave Rogers, Laun Braithwaite, and Tim Mullally T he popularity of Hawaiian-style music in the early 1900s created a demand for instruments specially made to accommodate Hawaiian guitar techniques. The top companies, Martin and Gibson, first began supplying separate devices to place on the nut to raise the strings high enough to play Hawaiian style, but eventually they designed guitars specifically for Hawaiian playing. Gibson’s earliest Hawaiians were the HG series of 1929, followed by the Roy Smeck 12-fret models of 1934. By the time the Roy Smeck guitars became available, Hawaiian music had already begun to feature a new innovation: an electric guitar made by Rickenbacker. This guitar featured a magnetic “horseshoe” pickup to amplify the strings’ vibrations. This guitar could be heard more easily, and notes and chords could be effortlessly sustained. Rickenbacker’s “Frying Pans” went almost unnoticed by Gibson until 1935, when sales shot high enough for Gibson to think it worthwhile to try an electric Hawaiian of their own. Gibson’s shortlived first attempt at an electric Hawaiian followed Rickenbacker’s lead and had a metal body. But the metal body had tuning issues and didn’t fit Gibson’s classic look, so by 1936 the EH-150 had a maple body and neck and was finished in Gibson’s traditional dark sunburst. After initially trying to outsource the pickup design to Chicago’s Lyon & Healy (who did end up making the matching amplifiers), Gibson relied on one of its own employees, Walter Fuller, to devise the now famous bar pickup. The 1937 EH-150 set pictured here has features consistent with the middle of that year. These include a headstock with a pearl Gibson logo and split diamond inlay (there was no inlay the previous year), multi-ply top and back binding (the top binding was singleply in 1936), a back attached with screws (by 1938 the backs would be glued on), and a bar pickup with multiply binding (replaced by a U-magnet pickup in 1938). The amp had rounded corners (replacing the square corners of 1936), two 6L6 power tubes (earlier models used 6N6s), and a 12" speaker (previously a 10"). The amp’s power rating was about 15 watts. The original list price of the EH-150 guitar and amp set was $150. The current value for a set in excellent, all-original condition is $2,000. Sources for this article include: Gibson Electric Steel Guitars by A.R. Duchossoir, Gruhn’s Guide to Vintage Guitars by George Gruhn and Walter Carter, Electric Guitars and Basses by George Gruhn and Walter Carter, and Gibson Amplifiers 1933-2008: 75 Years of the Gold Tone by Wallace Marx, Jr. Original price for set: $150 in 1937 Current estimated market value: $2,000 Dave’s Guitar Shop Dave Rogers’ collection is tended by Laun Braithwaite and Tim Mullally and is on display at: Dave’s Guitar Shop 1227 Third Street South La Crosse, WI 54601 davesguitar.com Photos by Mullally and text by Braithwaite. Opposite page: In 1937 you could have purchased the EH150 guitar and amp set for $150. Gibson’s Walter Fuller created the company’s iconic bar pickup. Left and Inset: The 15-watt amplifier boasted two 6L6 power tubes and three inputs. premierguitar.com PREMIER GUITAR NOVEMBER 2013 61
  • 55. Bottom feeder Jay Turser Stiletté Futuré BY Will Ray S ometimes you see a picture of a guitar and are intrigued by its looks. Such was the case when I saw this on eBay a few months ago. It’s a 2001 Jay Turser Stiletté Futuré model. These were only made for about three years. In person, the Stiletté Futuré has an unusual 3-D look that pictures don’t do justice to. You can tell someone wanted to design a futuristic guitar here—but then got distracted by reality. It features two Strat-type single-coil pickups, a humbucker in the bridge position, an upside-down headstock/tuner configuration, a rosewood fretboard, and scallop fretboard markers. But the most unusual aspect is the silver-colored flat aluminum back. A black plastic housing and knee rest sits atop the aluminum, creating visual contrast. You might think that, with its sparse aluminum and plastic body, this guitar would be pretty lightweight. You’d think wrong—it weighs in at just under 8 pounds. It’s not the heaviest guitar I’ve ever held, but it’s not nice and light like, say, an aluminum-bodied James Trussart guitar. I was the only bidder on the auction and won the guitar for the starting price of $150 (plus $18 shipping). “It’s just an okay deal,” I reasoned after checking around. “There’s not much demand for these.” It arrived needing new strings and a serious setup. The action was very high, the neck was out of whack, the wiring was funky, and the pickups needed shimming to get them closer to the strings. Luckily, I could do all that work myself. Bottom Feeder Tip # 689: Learn as much as you can about guitar setups by watching a good tech in action. I’ve had several over the years who would let me watch as they performed their tricks of the trade. You can acquire a lot of knowledge this way, but the key is not to be distracting. Ask pertinent questions, but don’t yammer on. Let the tech concentrate on the job, and always be ready to help by handing a tool or volunteering to clean up. 62 PREMIER GUITAR NOVEMBER 2013 Fig. 2 You can tell someone wanted to design a futuristic guitar here—but then got distracted by reality. Fig. 1 Fig. 3 Fig. 1. The body and knee rest of this 2001 Jay Turser Stiletté Futuré are screwed to a flat aluminum back. Fig. 2. You might think that the Stiletté Futuré, with its aluminum and plastic parts, is a light guitar— but you’d be wrong. Fig. 3. Despite its striking 3-D looks, the Stiletté Futuré doesn’t have a strong sonic personality. So how does the Stiletté Futuré sound? Not quite as cool as it looks. Its tone is kind of pedestrian, without much personality. I’ll probably keep it for a while just because it looks cool. Some guitars are like that. will ray is a founding member of the Hellecasters guitar-twang trio. He also does guitar clinics promoting his namesake G&L signature model 6-string, and produces artists and bands at his studio in Asheville, North Carolina. You can contact Will on Facebook and at willray.biz. premierguitar.com
  • 56. 64 PREMIER GUITAR NOVEMBER 2013 premierguitar.com
  • 57. John Petrucci The Ultimate Evolved Guitarist The beloved shredder reveals how his band Dream Theater stays the course: by practicing always and playing from the heart. He also tells us why his 13th Music Man signature model guitar is his most cutting-edge collaboration to date. Opposite Page: Photo by Larry DiMarzio By Corbin Reiff premierguitar.com J ohn Petrucci is a man who wears many hats and assumes many different guises. He’s a writer, producer, teacher, and sometimes an engineer. Above all else, though, Petrucci is a guitar player, and unsurprisingly, this is the role that he’s most personally comfortable in assuming. Despite being universally acknowledged as one of the best who’s ever laid a hand on a fretboard, Petrucci refuses to remain content in his own abilities. “I still sit there with the metronome,” he declares with pride. “I still practice, I still warm-up and do all the stuff that’s required.” Petrucci brings this progressive spirit and drive to all his projects, including his latest, the self-titled 12th album from Dream Theater. The record adheres tightly to the group’s prog/metal influences without a trace of stagnation one might expect from a group this deep into its career. Much of this is due to Petrucci’s drive and meticulous nature in his triplerole of producer, composer, and guitarist. We recently spoke with Petrucci about the new record, his latest gear explorations, and what’s next for Dream Theater. Tell us about the writing process for Dream Theater. How much time did you spend composing the tunes, and how did you work on the songs? The first step happens throughout the year leading up to the actual recording of the album. It’s just sort of collecting ideas, little riffs, melodies, and chord progressions. I compile all that stuff on my laptop and phone, just so I can come in with some ideas to use as springboards. Then the next step is discussing what sort of album we want to make. Two months before we get into the studio, we all get on the phone and email each other to talk about it, so everyone coming in is on the same page. This time around was very similar to a lot of our past albums going into the studio. We set up all our gear in a kind of rehearsal setting, but in a recording studio with everything mic’d and ready to go. Then we start to work on these ideas and hammer them out. Sometimes we use some of those seeds that were PREMIER GUITAR NOVEMBER 2013 65
  • 58. John Petrucci is a jack-ofall-trades for prog behemoth Dream Theater, taking the role of guitarist, writer, and producer. collected; sometimes we just start from scratch. That goes on for a few months until all the songs exist in instrumental form awaiting lyrics, and then I’ll sit down and get that process going. It’s very interactive—there are many different stages, but the great thing is that everybody is involved and invested in it. How do you conceptualize and craft a song as large in scope as “Illumination Theory,” which runs well over 20 minutes and contains such a vast array of time, tempo, and mood shifts? It’s done a little bit at a time for sure [laughs]. It is a big project and it is a big process and the first step is in knowing the kind of song that we’re setting out to write. Then we have ideas kind of mapped out, whether they be from things we’ve been jamming on from the past couple of weeks or from previous soundchecks or some of those seeds I talked about and we’ll discuss, “Oh, that would make a great ending piece.” There was this great theme that I’d pictured in the beginning and we’ll map it out— literally draw it out, like storyboard it on 66 PREMIER GUITAR NOVEMBER 2013 paper for everybody. Once we have that kind of storyboard and that structure, that’s when we start writing. How do you approach your solos? Do you map them out as well or are they more spontaneous? To me, guitar solos are always those moments that are make or break. They can be an opportunity to further the song musically—further the story you’re trying to tell—and that’s the way I try to approach it. I think about my role in that moment: Where is the song going? If the solo happens kind of later in the song and it’s leading toward the out-chorus, I know that my job is to lift the song at that point, make it exciting and carry it to the end. If it happens like in the case of a song like “The Looking Glass,” where it’s sort of in the middle and it’s stretched out, then I know it’s going to be more of a free, improv thing that’s going to make the song feel a little freer in general. Sometimes I have solos that are right at the end like the very last thing on “Illumination Theory” where I know my job is to carry the torch and play the mighty solo standing on top of the mountain [laughs]. That’s always the first thing I do—think about what’s going on musically—then I just start going for it and improvise a lot over those progressions. Sometimes while that’s happening I’ll change things we’ve written, like in the case of “Surrender to Reason.” The solo seems really kind of reckless and there were some chords going by that [keyboardist] Jordan [Rudess] did and I decided, “Let’s take those chords out and not put any restrictions on the harmony, so I can do something a little more raw.” How do you balance your role as a guitarist with that of a producer while in the studio? I love doing it. I’m really fortunate and very thankful that the guys trust me in that position and give me that flexibility and responsibility to be the producer. It can be really difficult to be a band member and to produce your own band, but it’s worked out incredibly well because I am the guitar player in the band, and I know the guys incredibly well, which is premierguitar.com
  • 59. PSA 1.1 Turning 20 is a powerful testament to the unusual longevity of the SansAmp PSA. It’s difficult to believe, even for us, the SansAmp PSA was introduced 2 decades ago. To commemorate the occasion, we are issuing a limited run with a copper anodized faceplate. In a time of every-other-month upgrades, the SansAmp PSA has been modified only once in 20 years, and primarily to add hardware features. Combining a warm, all-analog signal path with digital recall, the exceptionally versatile SansAmp PSA can be used for multiple applications and instruments. An established studio and touring staple to this day, the PSA provides a powerful combination of dazzling tones, unlimited editing, and dependable digital programmability --with an all-analog signal path to boot. The result is a phenomenally warm preamp that can be mercilessly tweaked, and favorite sounds can be stored with the push of a button. The special edition 20th Anniversary SansAmp PSA-1.1 is available for a limited time. Get yours today. • • • • • • 100% analog signal path 49 factory presets 77 user-definable locations Master volume control XLR ground lift switch Phantom power MIDI input • Dedicated headphone output • On stage, use as a pre-amp, "monster direct box" to PA system, and outboard processor • Not just for guitar and bass, use with any stringed instrument, drums, horns, • Adjust parameters in real time harmonica, keyboards, vocals... • In the studio, record direct to tape, warm up existing tracks in mixdowns • Smooth, linear rotary controls have 256 incremental steps for maximum tweakability DESIGNED AND MANUFACTURED IN THE U.S.A. TECH21NYC.COM
  • 60. 68 PREMIER GUITAR NOVEMBER 2013 premierguitar.com
  • 61. something I use to my advantage as far as how I approach each person. Everybody is different in terms of temperament and work method, so I’m able to get the best out of everybody in that situation. I think the key for me—and I wrote about it in the song “The Bigger Picture” on the album—is being able to step back to see the forest through the trees. To see what it is we’re trying to accomplish in a larger sense. This way everything you do works toward that goal. You do have to separate yourself out, you have to step back, you have to get out of the microcosm of playing guitar and being a band member, and pull that into the bigger picture. How do you mic and mix your guitars, and how much time do you dedicate to crafting your tones on record? That’s actually a really big process and is also one of the most fun times I have in the studio. We spend a ton of time with premierguitar.com I think the key for me—and I wrote about it in the song “The Bigger Picture” on the album— is being able to step back to see the forest through the trees. To see what it is we’re trying to accomplish in a larger sense. it. I’ve done it so many different ways, but this time the approach was to get a guitar sound from day one that pretty much was a finished sound—it’s the sound you hear when you hear the album today. I really left it up to [engineer] Richard Chycki to do what needed to be done in order to get there. I basically had my Mesa/Boogie amps all set up in an iso room in the studio and Richard set up a couple of different mics—a [Shure SM] 57 and [Neumann U] 47. Then he went through whatever process it had to go through after that. I didn’t really concern myself with how it was happening. What was important was the sound coming out of the studio monitors, and we would spend days on that. We also used a Radial JDX to re-amp, so every time I recorded a part, we’d have a DI [direct input] track as well. Depending on the song, we’d re-amp the part and experiment by setting the amp EQ differently to get it to really match up to a particular song. You hear a lot of different types of guitar tones on the album, and they were all tailored to each song. Were you listening to any music while writing and recording Dream Theater, PREMIER GUITAR NOVEMBER 2013 69
  • 62. John Petrucci’s GEAR GUITARS Music Man JP13 (6- and 7-string models with DiMarzio Illuminator picksups) Music Man JP BFR (baritone with DiMarzio LiquiFire and Crunch Lab pickups) AMPS Mesa/Boogie Mark V Mesa/Boogie Mark IIC+ Mesa/Boogie TriAxis Mesa/Boogie Royal Atlantic EFFECTS Analog Man King of Tone Analog Man Juicer Carl Martin Compressor/Limiter TC Electronic John Petrucci Signature Dreamscape Boss PH-3 Phase Shifter MXR EVH 90 As Dream Theater gears up for another epic world tour, John Petrucci says he hopes to have a solo album out by 2014. It will be his first in eight years. and how do your influences continue to define what you do? I purposely tried to not listen to anything. When you listen to stuff while you’re in the studio or before you go in—especially if it’s not something you discovered on your own, if it’s something that somebody went, “Oh, you have to hear this”—it can be dangerous. All of a sudden it seems like you need to pull this thing into your style. My original influences go back to being a teenager in those formative days. Bands like Metallica and [Iron] Maiden got me into the whole metal scene, and I was also a big Rush and Yes fan. That fusion of metal, rock, and progressive music molded my style, and subsequently Dream Theater’s sound, because we were all into the same thing. Those core influences determined our style from the beginning, and I think it’s important for us to stay true to this and continue developing from it, and not lose sight of the band’s original vision. 70 PREMIER GUITAR NOVEMBER 2013 How do you balance trying to push the music forward conceptually and technically with the desire to stay true to your roots? It’s very easy to remain grounded if you just play what comes from your heart. You work off of the inspiration you receive from each other when you’re playing together. This band has a ton of musical chemistry. We write together and we inspire each other to push ourselves in that spirit. That’s automatically reflected in our metal-progressive style. You can’t lose sight of that inspiration when it feels really natural to you. If you’re doing something that doesn’t feel natural, usually it’s not going to come across convincingly. This being DT’s 12th studio album, why did now seem like the right time to release a self-titled record? I think it’s because it made a strong statement this many albums into our career. We wanted to make a bold, strong, confident album that really projected our musical attitude at this point in time and pushing forward. We felt that the best way to illustrate what the album is about was to self-title it. To not pick a title that would distract from it at all or lead to any preconceptions. Keep it strong and keep it a little bit of a mystery. How much time do you spend perfecting and adding to your technique as a guitar player? A lot—it’s really important. First of all, it’s something I love to do and I’m addicted to doing. I really have to practice, it’s such a use-it-or-lose-it thing. I have routines, especially while I’m in the studio and I’m ready to push the envelope and record something that takes the music further or challenge myself as a player. As a longtime Mesa/Boogie devotee, what Boogie amps did you use in the studio, and what, if any, other amps did you throw into the mix? premierguitar.com
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  • 64. One of the most celebrated guitarists alive, Petrucci says he still practices religiously and believes in the “use it or lose it” mantra. The studio was all Boogies, and for the most part it was the Mark V. We did a ton of experimenting using the Radial to re-amp, which was a blast, but a lot of the time we ended up going with the Mark V. I ended up playing a lot of 7-string on this album, and the Mark V really seemed to work with the range of my new Music Man JP13, which sounded very broad and alive through it. I also set up three of my old Mark IIC+ amps. We’d go back and forth between different ones for solos. They all have different tonal aspects that are just beautiful. I used a TriAxis for clean stuff and for writing, and for the first time I used a Royal Atlantic, which is a Boogie that has a different sound from any of the Mark amps. You can hear it on “The Looking Glass.” The amp has more of a big, grindy, rock sound, not as metal sounding, but really appropriate for that song. I also used it for “Along for the Ride.” You mentioned using a lot of 7-string guitar on this record. What attracts you to that extra string and how does it alter your approach to playing? My technical approach pretty much remains the same. To me it’s all about the range. When you’re composing, it’s freeing to play chords or lines that go below that standard E without tuning down. Keyboardists have that in their left hand, 6-string bass players have it too. It also adds some other options as far as the tonal aspect of keys. When you’re tuned to standard, you have your basic E, A, and F# keys, which you can mix up when you’re using a 7-string. Your centers can revolve around B or C# or D, and then if you tune the guitar down they can revolve around A, so it gives you options you don’t have with a 6-string. Your Signature Series Music Man guitar lineup is currently up to its 13th iteration. How has the JP guitar evolved over the years and how much creative input do you have with each new model? The lineup has changed with things I discover, whether in the studio or playing live, that help shift the design and 72 PREMIER GUITAR NOVEMBER 2013 YOUTUBE IT Speed kills and so does John Petrucci in the solo on “Constant Motion.” In this performance, Petrucci lets fly with a truly staggering display of agility and dexterity—dive bomb to hell and back included. YouTube search term: Dream Theater - Constant Motion - Download Festival 2009 construction of the guitar as time goes by. The very first JP guitar was my first experience making a guitar with Music Man, and it came out absolutely amazing. It has that scoop for the right arm, for example. As I learn about tone woods, neck dimensions, fretboard radius, fret size, and body shape, I talk to Music Man and they make adjustments. All my signature guitars—the 6-string, 7-string, and baritone—are tweaked a bit differently. They’re different spices in my spice rack, but they’re all me. Having said that, there are also a lot of consistencies in the way we lay out the controls and the bridge. Once we nail something that’s just perfect, it stays that way. I have a ton of input and involvement in that process, and I consider myself incredibly fortunate to work with literally the best guitar builders on the planet. I put these ideas forth and the engineers turn it into an actual physical guitar. It’s an incredible experience. What makes the JP13 different from what has come before it? This guitar continues the evolution. It has a preamp in it, which none of the others have—that’s the main difference. The preamp enables the guitar to be more alive and open sounding, and it also offers a boost. You can tap the volume control to add 20 dB of gain, so you don’t need an overdrive or clean boost pedal. We also went to a 17" fretboard radius, and, of course, the guitar looks different with all the chrome and silver finish on the knobs and everything. premierguitar.com
  • 65. Have it All You’ve heard the legendary Eventide sound on your favorite records your whole life. Now make these sounds your own. The best of our acclaimed effects are together in one powerful customizable stompbox, the H9 Harmonizer®. To learn more visit Eventide.com or contact your local dealer. From SPACE: Shimmer Hall From ModFactor: Tremolo (2 types) Chorus (5 types) From PitchFactor: Crystals™ H910/H949 NEW FOR H9: UltraTap Delay™ From TimeFactor: Vintage Delay Tape Echo
  • 66. All my signature guitars—the 6-string, 7-string, and baritone —are tweaked a bit differently. They’re different spices in my spice rack, but they’re all me. SHUBB New for 2013... Rounded corners are smoother to the touch. Contoured lever is easier to operate. Roller replaces delrin cap: • smoother action • superior geometry • reduced wear Our most popular model — the standard C1 — now sports the design features of our deluxe models! info@shubb.com • www.shubb.com 707-843-4068 74 PREMIER GUITAR NOVEMBER 2013 TC Electronic released the John Petrucci Dreamscape Signature TonePrint three-in-one modulation pedal with chorus, flanger, and vibrato. How did that come about? TC’s chorus and flanger effects have been a huge part of my sound forever. I remember discovering TC stuff when I was really young, and I just fell in love with the sound and design. They approached me. They’d never done a signature pedal before and neither had I, so it was a first for both of us. We started to talk privately about what this might be. I mentioned that their modulation pedal was my favorite pedal of all time and maybe we could take it to the next level by making it quieter and more compact, more roadworthy, and expanding its features. They were 100 percent for it. Once we started exploring the new technology they’ve developed, we discovered that this pedal could do a lot more than just chorus and flange. We’re going to be able to take this as far as we want, especially with the TonePrint technology. In the end, this pedal is probably one of the most versatile modulation pedals you can get, and it ended up being one of my main secret weapons in the studio. What other pedals do you currently have in your chain? Only a few. I have a big pedal collection I bring into the studio to experiment with a bit, but live I just use a small drawer of maybe four. In addition to my Dreamscape, I use a Boss PH-3 Phaser—I also use the MXR Van Halen one, which I like—and usually some sort of overdrive. But I don’t really need an overdrive anymore because of the JP13’s boost. We’ve experimented with Mesa/Boogie’s new line of pedals, which are really cool for that, and we’ve used the Analog Man King of Tone. I also really like the sound of compression pedals, and the Carl Martin Compressor/Limiter is great, but the one that I really fell in love with on this album was the Analog Man Juicer. What is next for you and Dream Theater? Business as usual, as far as supporting this release. We have a world tour planned and that will start in Europe in January and continue across the globe. I’m also working on a solo album that’s been a long time coming—my last one was in 2005—and I’m hoping to finish that by the end of the year. We’re going to continue to stay busy, that’s for sure! premierguitar.com
  • 67. TONE TIPS Do You Really Want To? BY PETER THORN I Here I am in 2001 on tour with Evan and Jaron in Atlanta, Georgia (during my blonde era). Touring for a living can be tough, but a lot of fun at the same time. ’m writing this while sitting outside at a café in Paris. I’m on tour and having a really good time, so I can understand why people often say to me, “I want to do what you do.” It’s definitely a yin-yang thing because I’m missing my family in Los Angeles right now. Touring is no longer my only source of income, but it can keep you away from home and family all the time. Touring can also be tough during those times you don’t have a gig! There are ups and downs to being a professional musician. I first moved to L.A. in 1990 and attended Musician’s Institute for one year. This was a great experience, and through the school’s referral service after graduation, I found a band with great songs and a good industry buzz that needed a guitarist. I liked their music and they liked me, so I joined the band and worked a day job in a music store to pay the bills. I thought I’d only be working at the store a few months or so before being whisked off to fame and fortune. Fast-forward five years: I was still working at the same store. And after writing and demoing 50 songs and playing countless gigs and label showcases, the band was about to call it quits. I almost gave up, but miraculously, the band was offered a small deal on a Japanese label. I was able to quit my day job, make an album, and I could finally 76 PREMIER GUITAR NOVEMBER 2013 call myself a “pro musician.” But our label folded after one year, and around 1997, I found myself looking for work again. A drummer friend told me about an audition for a touring gig with singer/ songwriter Meredith Brooks. He got me an audition, my first real crack at scoring a touring sideman gig. I’ve always had a good work ethic and an attitude of striving to be the best guy in the room, so I was totally prepared and did really well. Out of about 30 guitarists, it was down to me and one other guy. Meredith called me at home and we had a long talk. I really thought I had the gig at that point, but the other guitarist ended up getting the job. I was disappointed, but this audition put me on the radar in L.A. and I was asked to audition for more gigs soon after. From 1998 until 2003, I ended up touring and/or recording with a slew of major-label acts including Adam Cohen, Sparkler, Blinker the Star, Evan and Jaron, and a few others. They were some great times, but most of these were up-and-coming artists with small tour budgets. I wasn’t earning much money and the travel could be rough. By the year 2000, I’d been pursuing my dreams for a decade and was far from home. My entire family was in Edmonton, Canada, and I tried to get back twice a year but it was tough. I was struggling just to pay the bills. From 2003 to 2006, I ended up doing some higher-profile tours with artists such as Jewel and Robi Draco Rosa. I performed on the big late-night talk shows and had endorsements with Gibson and Ernie Ball. It seemed like my career was on an upward trajectory and I was having a great time seeing the world, but it was difficult to keep a girlfriend for long and I was still only getting home to see my family a few times a year. My father passed away from cancer in 2006. I’ll always be thankful that I was able to spend a couple of weeks with him before his death, but this was a real wake-up call for me. Even though I was doing exactly what I set out to do 15 years earlier, the implications of my career choice suddenly came into sharp focus. I’d chosen a tough, unpredictable path that took me far away from my family. Touring was my only decent source of income, and touring kept me away from home. I spent 2007 to 2010 touring with Chris Cornell and this was truly an exceptional gig. Joining Melissa Etheridge in 2010 on her Fearless Love tour was a similar experience. Playing music with some of the greatest songwriter/vocalists of our time has been a dream come true. That said, I’ve recently really made an effort to diversify and find some other sources of income. Jumping from tour to tour and relying solely on that for income was starting to wear on me. Releasing my solo album Guitar Nerd in 2011 was a great experience and people responded favorably to it, so I’ll be recording and releasing another soon. My YouTube gear demos have really taken off, and this allows me to play guitar and write songs in my studio, be creative, and still be home for dinner with my girlfriend and her little boy every night. So at 42, I feel that I’m finally figuring out how to play guitar for a living without being on tour all the time! I want to continue touring, but I don’t want it to be my only option. If you really think you want to play guitar for a living, you have to ask yourself if you’re absolutely obsessed with it. I think you have to be in order to hang in there during the tough times. But my biggest piece of advice for those who “want to do what I do” is this: If you move away from home and the ones you love, go back and visit as often as possible. You’ll be glad you did. PETER THORN is an L.A.-based guitarist, currently touring with Melissa Etheridge. His solo album, Guitar Nerd, is available through iTunes and cdbaby.com. Read more about his career at peterthorn.com. premierguitar.com
  • 68. THE ULTIMATE case FOR THE collector, touring pro or weekend warrior. 3i-4217-18 SKB iSeries Flight Case Acoustic Dreadnought Also available for Classical Guitars, Strat/Tele Electrics, Les Paul® Style, and PRS Solid Bodies. TSA-Accepted Locking Latches
  • 69. Luther Dickinson World Boogie Is Here The slide guitar virtuoso reveals how the North Mississippi Allstars created their biggest, boldest album to date. written By Joe Gore Photography by Michael Weintrob Above: “I’m definitely a single-coil guy, and playing the ES-330 with P-90s gave me the idea of a 335 with P-90s, which is what we did with the second version of my signature guitar,” says Dickinson. premierguitar.com PREMIER GUITAR NOVEMBER 2013 79
  • 70. North Mississippi Allstars frontman/ guitarist Luther Dickinson is pictured here playing one of his reissue ES-335s from the Gibson Custom Shop in Memphis. N orthern Mississippi is a fertile guitar country, the place where the Hill Country blues intersects with the rock and R&B traditions of nearby Memphis. The area is a sonic Galapagos Islands where music has evolved in unique and beautiful ways. The North Mississippi Allstars reside, both musically and geographically, at the heart of this musical melting pot. The region’s traditions have shaped the band’s sound since the Dickinson brothers—guitarist Luther and drummer Cody—first performed as the Allstars in 1996. Their dozen albums are rich in regional atmosphere, not to mention deeply soulful slide guitar work. But even longtime Allstars fans may be surprised 80 PREMIER GUITAR NOVEMBER 2013 by the breadth and depth of the band’s new release, World Boogie is Coming. It’s the closest they’ve come to a classic rock concept album. World Boogie is an atmospheric affair where a kaleidoscope of blues and rock colors unfolds against a backdrop of found sounds. There are ghosts here, especially of the late blues greats that the Dickinsons knew growing up: R.L. Burnside. Junior Kimbrough. Otha Turner. The album’s large cast of guest musicians includes Burnside’s sons, Turner’s granddaughter, and new Allstars bassist Lightnin’ Malcolm, who the Dickinsons first met on the bandstand at Kimbrough’s juke joint. (Also appearing: a harmonica player named Robert Plant, who once gigged with a British combo named after a dirigible.) But the album’s strongest ghost-voice probably belongs to the Dickinson brothers’ father, Jim, who passed away in 2009. Jim Dickinson was a producer and session player who worked with Aretha, Dylan, Big Star, the Stones, and many other crucial artists. His band, Mud Boy and the Neutrons, mixed roots music with an open-ended, art-rock attitude, much like the Allstars do today. Jim Dickinson’s final words were “World boogie is coming.” And he was right. We caught up with Luther Dickinson in Charlotte, North Carolina, where the Allstars were a week into their postrelease tour. premierguitar.com
  • 71. THE HARDEST WORKING GUITAR SIMON NEIL AND HIS PRO SERIES P7DC Photo: Neil Whitcher See the entire line of Takamine guitars at takamine.com. ©2013 KMC Music, Inc. TAKAMINE ® is a trademark of KMC Music, Inc. All rights reserved.
  • 72. The name for the North Mississippi Allstars’ new album was inspired by the late father of Luther and Cody Dickinson. “World boogie is coming,” were his final words before passing in 2009. World Boogie is Coming feels more cinematic than your other albums. Cinematic is exactly what we were going for. The secret behind the strength of this record is that we’ve finally figured out how to put everything in its proper place. When the band started out, I used to think, “Hey, I’ve got a bunch of songs— let’s make a record!” I sort of lost my way and started making egotistical rock and roll records that probably should have been solo albums. But really, the Allstars is more of a community-based art project about the traditional repertoire of our home. I wanted this record to be a multimedia cultural statement about Mississippi, and this record is modern-day Mississippi blues. We just opened up ourselves and our microphones and let it happen. Did you record at Zebra Ranch, your family studio? Oh, yeah. The studio is out in the country, between Independence and Coldwater. I live right near there. We recorded a couple of records right after our dad passed away in ’09, but after that the studio sat dormant and got kind of sad. But then Patty Griffin wanted to record there, so we rented a huge dumpster and cleaned the funk out of the place. Patty brought in Robert Plant, and that session turned into her American Kid record. For the Allstars record, we brought in a refurbished one-inch 8-track tape machine and a new Pro Tools HD rig. We set up our projection screen. We had rain sounds and weird atmospheric studio noises, because I like to keep all the doors and windows open. When Patty was there, she said, “Wow—the only studio in the world with wind!” to one track of drums, or one track of guitar. And this time I think we’ve really managed to capture the live spirit. It’s not like those modern blues records tracked in sterile rooms. Yuck—I hate that! We also tend to cut fast, almost sloppy, and then edit down the performances. That’s how we maintain our spontaneity. We don’t do ten takes of a song—we do just a couple, and then glean the good parts. We definitely use the technology, though we’re into the “freedom of limitations.” That’s why I love the 8-track machine: You have to commit You’ve worked hard to develop a refined slide guitar style, but you also like to keep things raw. How do you balance skill and sloppiness? It all comes down to primitive modernism. I’m always trying to keep it as primitive as possible. I’m not a fancy guitar player. I’m just trying to capture a moment, a mood, a feeling. That’s what I learned from Otha Turner and R.L. Burnside: How to project a feeling into a 82 PREMIER GUITAR NOVEMBER 2013 room—or onto a front porch, as was the case at Otha’s house. Are we hearing much of your new signature-model Gibson ES-335? No, we did the record before I had that. I used just one guitar for the entire record: a new Gibson Custom Shop ES-330 reissue. Well, that, and the two-string, coffee-can diddley bow I play on “Rollin’ and Tumblin’.” I just love that 330, and I’ve been using it on record after record. I can’t really play it live, though, because hollowbodies go crazy with feedback at the volume we play at. The first prototype premierguitar.com
  • 73. of my signature model was an ES-335 with humbuckers. [Ed. note: ES-335s are only semi-hollow.] You don’t get quite as fat a tone, but it’s such a relief to cancel that hum. But I’m definitely a single-coil guy, and playing the ES-330 with P-90s gave me the idea of a 335 with P-90s, which is what we did with the second version of my signature guitar. So are you migrating from humbuckers to single-coil P-90s? Well, single-coil pickups have the most pleasing tone for me, but they are so damn noisy. That’s the main reason I started playing humbuckers. But one cool thing about my signature 335 is that you have hum cancelling when both pickups are on. It’s also got a Bigsby tremolo, which was inspired by something Ry Cooder used to tell me as a kid: The more springs on a guitar, the better. He likes mounting pickups on the pickguard because of the springs. Each spring is a tiny reverb center. The Bigsby is awesome, and the guitar is bitchin’. My friend Mike Voltz is doing beautiful work at the Gibson Custom Shop in Memphis. There aren’t a lot of guitarists who can use the phrase “something Ry Cooder used to tell me as a kid.” I know, man! My father and Ry worked really closely through the ’70s and ’80s. He’s just a genius. His hands are huge. His inversions are so wide and varied, like a classical player’s. He plays a lot in “cross tunings,” like playing a song in D when he’s in open G, or playing in A when he’s in open D. Almost nobody does that. I perceive a real similarity between what he and my dad were doing and what we’re doing. The way he’d reinterpret folk songs on albums like Boomer’s Story and Into the Purple Valley was a huge influence on us. Ry wasn’t the only one. Yeah, our whole childhood was insane! We were products of the Memphis underground of the ’70s. Dad and his bohemian folk music friends had the opportunity to interact with blues masters like Furry Lewis, Sleepy John Estes, Bukka White, Reverend Robert Wilkins, Fred McDowell. We grew up watching Dad’s band, Mud Boy and the Neutrons, reinterpret roots music, country, gospel, and R&B. That scene grew into the Alex Chilton solo projects and Panther Burns. It was the beginning of the punk blues scene. That’s the world boogie, man! The whole Memphis guitar thing is just amazing. I was good friends with Roland Janes, Billy Lee Riley, Teenie Hodges from Al Green’s rhythm section. There’s Steve Cropper. Scotty More. Paul Burlison. Willie Johnson. And I had a great guitar teacher: Shawn Lane. Oh, yeah—totally forgot he was a Memphis guy! 9 modes of modulation bliss, all easily accessible via presets and tweakable with tone shaping options. This versatile pedal offers up a huge variety of great tones in an incredibly small footprint. www.empresseffects.com premierguitar.com PREMIER GUITAR NOVEMBER 2013 83
  • 74. Luther dickinson’s GEAR GUITARS Gibson Custom Shop Luther Dickinson signature model Gibson Custom Shop ES-335 reissues Gibson Custom Shop ES-330 reissue Harmony Sovereign acoustic (customized by Scott Baxendale) Coffee-can diddley bow (built by Scott Baxendale) AMPS Dickinson works his go-to axe in early 2013 during a taping of PBS Underground. Shawn was a genius. [Ed. note: Lane, who passed away in 2003 at age 40, acquired a cult following for his incredibly fast and fluid guitar work.] I’d give him fifty bucks, and we’d hang out all day. He’d make dinner, then he’d sit around with a joint in one hand and a bottle of wine in the other, watching a movie on a big screen, reciting the dialog, singing the score, and talking about some conspiracy theory, all at once. Despite all his technique, he’d always advise finding the easy way to do things, and not practice something that’s hard. For example, he never used the combination of index finger/ring finger/pinky. He’d always use index/ middle/pinky, just because the other way just didn’t feel good to him. Obviously, that worked for him. 84 PREMIER GUITAR NOVEMBER 2013 So you used to be a shred kid? I was shredding my ass off! I can’t even fathom the melodies I used to play. Before the Allstars, we had a little experimental rock band called DDT—for Dickinson, Dickinson, and our talented friend Paul Taylor—and we were Shawn’s backing band for a year. It was fun, but at some point we burned out and wanted to have our own thing. You also knew the great bluesmen who were part of the ’90s Mississippi Hill Country blues resurgence. That stuff blew my mind. I was a blues snob who only liked the old stuff from the ’20s through the ’50s. Even Chicago blues was too slick for me sometimes. But all of a sudden in the ’90s there was electrified country Fuchs Overdrive Supreme combo Fuchs Full House combo Marshall plexi 100-watt and 50-watt heads (with Fuchs cabinets)  Blackface Fender Princeton Brownface Fender Concert EFFECTS Radial Switchbone switcher Analog Man King of Tone overdrive Foxrox Octron octave Boss DD-7 Digital Delay OTHER Dunlop 212 slides DR Strings Peterson strobe tuner Boss TU-2 tuner premierguitar.com
  • 75. blues right in my backyard. The stuff on Fat Possum records was the nastiest stuff I’d ever heard. It was modern-day, multigenerational, electrified country blues— that’s what inspired this whole band! We were already old family friends with Otha Turner and [longtime R.L. Burnside collaborator] Kenny Brown, but once we got turned on to that scene, we could hang out at Junior Kimbrough’s juke joint on Sundays. We started the Allstars in ’96, and in ’97 Kenny Brown hired us to go on the road, opening for R.L. They taught me how to tour, and I’ve been on the road ever since. The entire basis for our band is trying to play acoustic country blues in a loud, electric power-trio setting. And that’s why you usually play hollow-bodied or semi-hollow guitars? Yeah. I’m trying to get an acoustic guitar-type response out of an electric instrument. I’ve always wanted to play something like the acoustic sound of R.L. Burnside or Fred McDowell, but on electric. The first signature 335 got me close to that, but the new one, with the P-90s and Bigsby springs, is really there. I’ve always been most interested in the blues players who used DeArmond soundhole pickups on acoustic guitars, like Elmore James, Lightnin’ Hopkins, and Lonnie Johnson, as opposed to, say, Muddy Waters, who wound up playing a Tele in standard tuning using a capo. They maintained more of that country blues fingerpicking sensibility. How often do you play fingerstyle? About 95 percent of the time. Having a strong right hand on the instrument feels so good! There are so many amazing and expressive sounds it can bring out, like when you accidentally hit a harmonic. I just adore the range of tones you can get. Some things are obvious, like the fact that you get a tighter, brighter sound when you pick down by the bridge. But I also love the way the strings resonate when you play closer to the middle of the neck. R.L. Burnside tended to pick that way, while Fred McDowell tended to be tighter. My dad told me how Ry Cooder would say he had eight different contact points with his thumb. Sometimes Derek Trucks just thumps the strings, just like you’d thump the back of someone’s head. That’s what so fun about playing with your hand: Anything goes! What slides are you using these days? I’ve been using a Dunlop 212 on electric guitar for years because it fits me perfectly, though I’m not satisfied with how it sounds on acoustic. For acoustic, I’ve been using socket wrenches and different metal slides, though I’m still experimenting. My main concern is being able to bend the second joint of my lefthand ring finger—I can’t play with the slide all the way down my finger. I can’t use bottles—it gets too sweaty and humid in there, and those seams will kill you. dangelicoguitars.com premierguitar.com PREMIER GUITAR NOVEMBER 2013 85
  • 76. Dickinson plays fingerstyle 95 percent of the time. Here he’s picking a cigarbox guitar built by Scott Baxendale. Ry says he likes to play on top of the seam. So did I! But my wife is really sensitive to noise. She hates scratchy slide, even finger-squeaks on acoustic. I usually use a .011 or .010 set on electric, but on acoustic I mix and match a lot. I’ve even started using an unwound .024 third string on acoustic, and it’s amazing! It cuts back on 50 percent of the squeak. And it’s the shit for slide because it’s so heavy. I use relatively heavy acoustic strings— something like .014, .018, and .024 on the high strings—because I’m always tuning my acoustics down. I like dropping down to open C, for example—just like open-E tuning, but lower. How do you amplify your acoustics? I love DeArmond soundhole pickups— I’ll put them on anything. But I hate modern-day under-the-bridge pickups. 86 PREMIER GUITAR NOVEMBER 2013 The sound just grosses me out, like fingernails on a chalkboard. But the key to my acoustic guitar sound is my friend Scott Baxendale, who takes great, soulful old Harmony and Kay acoustics and re-braces them. All the classic ’60s players used those guitars: Page, Townshend, Keith. Every time Robert Plant saw my Harmony Sovereign, he’d go straight to it. “This is what Pagey had!” he’d say. Baxendale knows I like magnetic pickups, so for my custom guitar, he made me a humbucking magnetic pickup and attached it to the neck bracing inside, so it doesn’t deaden the resonance of the body, which regular DeArmonds can definitely do. I think it’s a revolutionary pickup, and it sounds so good. Are you always in a transposed version of standard, open E, or open G? Usually, though I’ve been playing with D–A–D–G–A–D, and sometimes I go down the tritone wormhole and tune my sixth string to E% and raise the fifth string to B%. These days I keep everything tuned down a half-step, so I’m in E% standard, open C#, and open F#.  You’ve said you prefer turning up an amp to generating distortion via a pedal. Usually, though I always have some pedals with the Allstars. The Analog Man King of Tone is a real useful overdrive pedal. I sometimes use that when I have to play through backline amps that are too bright—I back the tone down with the pedal, just to make up for the sound of a shitty amp. I also like the Foxrox Octron octave pedal because it’s so nasty. Are you still using Fuchs amps? premierguitar.com
  • 77. Every Gibson Acoustic is built by hand, giving each guitar a personality as unique as each player. Play one and discover the difference between a guitar and aLegend. The new 1934 Original Jumbo www.gibson.com
  • 78. Well, I turned over the 150-watt Fuchs I used when I played with the Black Crowes because I hadn’t played it in so long, even though it’s an amazing piece of ammunition with unreal headroom. But I just got Fuchs’ Full House 50-watt 1x12 combo, and I’m very happy with it. It’s a 2-channel amp, though I mainly use the clean channel cranked up. I also used lots of blackface Fender Princeton on the record, plus an old brownface Fender Concert. Why do you stick with the clean channel? Because for me, all that distortion pedals and extra preamp gain stages in amps do is try to duplicate what an amp does when it’s cranked up and on fire. Since I play in environments where I’m totally free to turn my amp up, I do. Duane Allman, Derek Trucks, or Jimmy Herring would all tell you the same thing: Just turn that son of a bitch up! Let it talk. Let it sing. 88 PREMIER GUITAR NOVEMBER 2013 So what’s the gnarly distortion sound on “Rollin’ and Tumblin’?” The low riff is just the coffee-can diddly bow with two bass strings, played through the Foxrox octave. What about all the wild sounds on the middle section? That’s not me—it’s my brother playing electric washboard through his effect pedals. It really takes you on a Hendrixstyle journey. Electric Ladyland was such a big influence on both of us. When I was about 16 we took a lot of drugs and got way into the box set versions of that and Allman Brothers at Fillmore East. Those are our two favorite records. How about all the freaky sounds on “Snake Drive?” Kenny Brown plays the choppy power chord riff. Duwayne Burnside plays the Hendrixian phase guitar. I’m playing the crazy slide/toggle-switch solo. You mean, turning off one pickup and using the pickup toggle as an on/off switch? Exactly. I learned that trick from Brian Gregory of the Cramps, who used it on “TV Set” long before Tom Morello made the technique famous. I’ve loved the Cramps since I was a little kid. They’re yet another link to the Memphis punkblues scenario. They came to Sam Phillips’ studio and worked with Alex Chilton on their first record, Gravest Hits. My dad was there and recorded a song with them. They were a big influence on me growing up. I love the intro to your version of Junior Kimbrough’s “Meet Me in the City,” where you play in swing feel against a perfectly straight groove. We recorded a swinging version of the song back in ’03, but then we started playing it premierguitar.com
  • 79. with a straight, almost Michael Jackson feel, which was enough of a change for us to want to record it again. But that little guitar hook of Junior’s has to swing. I’m still experimenting with the idea of swinging on top of a straight beat. But really, that’s just rock and roll. It’s like Chuck Berry playing in straight time while Johnnie Johnson plays piano with a swing feel, or Little Richard pounding straight eighth-notes on piano against a swinging drummer. So why did most rock guitar players forget how to do that? I don’t know! I was just lucky enough to grow up with a roots rock master who was really aware of things like that. But I’m not naturally much of a swing player. Swinging is tough, man. How did you get that amazing staccato groove on “Goin’ to Brownsville?” Is that just damping? Yes—I’m choking it with my left hand. But I mute a lot with my right hand too, 90 PREMIER GUITAR NOVEMBER 2013 especially with my thumb. Muting is so important in slide playing. I like playing with a pick sometimes, but if you’re going to get into slide, you need to put that pick down! I mute the high strings with my middle and ring finger and mute the low strings with my thumb, which usually hangs down across the strings. How do you approach iconic blues standards like “Brownsville?” We just grew up with it. That song was one of the staples of Mud Boy and the Neutrons. They were friends with Sleepy John Estes and Furry Lewis. Furry claimed to have written it, but Sleepy John Estes was the one who actually lived in Brownsville. Therein lies some of the cool lyrical thievery-slash-oral tradition of blues lyrics. Sleepy John Estes wrote it. Furry Lewis made it his own. Our parents played it, and we learned it from them, so it’s just a natural thing to us. You know, I always used to sidestep the question of whether or not the Allstars are a blues band. The idea just gave me the creeps! We are a rock and roll band, because when white kids and blues get mixed up, the world boogie turns into rock and roll. But our approach is very interpretive, and it can be wildly different from night to night. That’s what we learned from Mud Boy: to play roots music the same way a jazz player would interpret a standard. We just take these melodies and rhythms and have our way with them. Nothing is sacred! YOUTUBE IT In this commercial clip from Gibson, Luther demos and discusses his signature model ES-335. YouTube search term: Gibson Memphis – The Luther Dickinson Guitar premierguitar.com
  • 80. Pull an orchestra out of your axe. Introducing TriplePlay, the wireless guitar controller that lets you turn your electric guitar into any instrument that you want − and compose, perform and record like never before. Includes a comprehensive software suite from PreSonus, Native Instruments, Notion Music, and IK Multimedia. Compose The revolutionary songwriting and composition software makes it easy to create your own guitar tabs, lead sheets, and standard sheet music complete with an audio track of your work. Perform Experience limitless guitar tones and effects, and a split fret capability that lets you play up to 4 instruments at once! This revolutionary new guitar synth provides fast, accurate tracking with virtually no lag. Record Use the included DAW software on your PC or Mac to build entire multi-instrument arrangements or mind-blowing patches. Explore an entire library of tonal choices to help your music stand apart. fishman.com/tripleplay
  • 81. GUITAR TRACKS Learning Your Room BY MITCH GALLAGHER Here’s a look at my previous home studio. When you really get to know your monitoring environment, you’ll have a solid foundation on which to base your critical listening. I n last month’s column [“More Mix Tricks,” October 2013], we talked about assembling a reference CD. Assuming you’ve chosen your tracks and have your CD ready, it’s time to evaluate and learn your room. And a good way to begin is to emulate what the pros do. Even if your studio is in the corner of the living room or it’s not possible for you to make changes to your room or setup, going through this process of learning your room will help you achieve better results from your rig. Just being aware of potential problems can help you work around them. If you were to watch a number of different recording engineers walk into a studio for the very first time, you’d find that they are remarkably consistent in what they do. Many will stop and listen for a minute to quickly gauge what’s happening in the space and determine if there is any background noise. Sources might include hiss or hum from equipment, noise from an air-conditioning system, outside traffic, and so on. There are some noise sources you can’t do anything about, but some are easily addressed. If the air conditioner is making disruptive noise, for example, just make sure you turn it off during your critical sessions. If there’s heavy traffic noise, simply reschedule your sessions to a time when traffic is lighter. The next thing an engineer will probably do is walk around the room and clap their hands. What they’re doing is listening for flutter echo—sound that bounces back 92 PREMIER GUITAR NOVEMBER 2013 and forth between two parallel surfaces and creates a rattling echo effect. An engineer might even shout “hey!” a few times to test the amount of reverb in the room. Commercial studios solve the problem by installing sonic treatment, such as acoustic panels or acoustic foam, to absorb these reflections. You can hang acoustic panels in a home studio too, but just shuffling the furniture around or hanging a curtain or blanket to disrupt the reflection path between the parallel walls might do the trick. After listening to the room itself, it’s time to learn how the monitor system sounds in the room. A few engineers will go as far as running a noise source through the speakers and measuring the response in the room. In my experience, a more practical (and more commonly used) approach is to pop your reference CD into the system or load up your music files on your computer and prepare them for playback through your audio interface. An important note I touched on last month: Don’t rely on an MP3 player or your phone for playing reference tracks. The audio quality isn’t high enough for our purposes. Now it’s time to sit down in the mix position and start playing back your tracks. I break down my focus into three components—bass range, midrange, and treble range—and I’ll often play a section of a particular track back three or more times so I can really dial my attention in on each component. First, I’ll focus my listening intently on the low end and ask myself a few things: What’s happening in the room? Is it boomy? Does the bass seem light? Does the bass extend all the way down or does it feel as if the lowest octave is missing? It’s a good idea to get up from your chair and walk about the room while listening to the low frequencies. Any enclosed space is subject to what acousticians call “room modes”— resonances in the low frequencies that result from the room’s dimensions. These resonances will vary in intensity in different places in the room. You might have a “hot spot” where a resonance is loud, or a “null” where the resonance seems to cancel out and the bass almost disappears. Knowing where these spots are is a big help because you certainly don’t want to make critical decisions about the bass level when you’re sitting or standing in a hot spot or a null. Return to your listening position. Are the bass frequencies even throughout their range? Do some notes seem to jump out? Again, just being aware of these facts can help you adjust your ears and optimize your tracks and mixes. I’ll turn my focus to the midrange next. Is it clear or does it seem clouded? Do tracks seem to jump out of the speakers or do they seem to languish? On a heavily layered track, are all the parts discernible and independent? Where things need to blend, do they sound seamless? Do the mids seem scooped overall or are they too prominent? Finally, my attention shifts to the high end. I’ll ask myself if the tracks sound open or if they’re dull. Can I discern the small details like fingers pressing frets on acoustic guitar strings, subtle ghost notes on snare drums, or vocal breaths? Are the highs smooth or harsh? Are they smeared or clear? Are they overly bright? This is also the point where you can start inspecting the imaging of the system and the room. Are you able to pinpoint the position of each instrument or voice in the stereo field? If something pans from side to side across the stereo field, does it do so smoothly? Does the stereo field seem wide and open, or narrow and closed? Again, going through this process will allow you to form a baseline from which you’ll feel comfortable working on your own tracks and mixes. So until next time, enjoy getting to know your room. Mitch Gallagher’s latest book is Guitar Tone: Pursuing the Ultimate Guitar Sound. A former Editor in Chief of EQ magazine, Mitch teaches music business and audio recording at Indiana University/Purdue University, and serves as Sweetwater’s Editorial Director. premierguitar.com
  • 82. Premier Guitar Ge Enter for your chance to WIN ALL FIVE NEW MINIFOOGERS! from Giveaway ends December 9, 0213. Open to all territories except where prohibited by law. Enter now on PremierGuitar.com
  • 83. ear Giveaways Presents Your Chance to WIN a J-35 Acoustic Electric Giveaway ends December 9, 0213. Open to all territories except where prohibited by law. Enter now on PremierGuitar.com
  • 84. Expect a Power surge. The legendary Destroyer is back. Don’t dare call it a re-issue. At Ibanez the tweaking never stops. The 2013 Destroyers feature the sonic pyrotechnics of DiMarzio® Air Norton™ and Tone Zone® humbuckers that deliver a dynamic range beyond anything in Destroyer history. The Tight-Tune bridge not only provides more adjustment flexibility than previous incarnations, but locks down with greater solidity, resulting in maximum sustain. Pick up a Destroyer. It’s your turn to feel the surge.
  • 85. FORGOTTEN HEROES Unsung Players Who Shaped Guitar as We Know It Ted Greene The life and legacy of one of the most brilliant and influential guitar instructors who ever lived. written By Corbin Reiff Photography courtesy of leon white premierguitar.com PREMIER GUITAR NOVEMBER 2013 95
  • 86. 1967 Joins Bluesberry Jam 1957 Receives first guitar Ted Greene Timeline 1946 1965 Theodore Greene is born on September 26 in Los Angeles, California Begins teaching at Ernie Ball Guitars in Tarzana, California 1960 Joins the Cage Kings, buys Gretsch 6120 I n life we sometimes encounter people who, like Virgil in Dante’s Inferno, guide us along treacherous paths to our ultimate destination. For many on the path to guitar excellence, Ted Greene was that guide. Ted Greene devoted his life to unlocking the secrets of the guitar’s fretboard and sharing them with whoever wished to learn. His four books—Chord Chemistry, Modern Chord Progressions, and Jazz Guitar Single Note Soloing Volume 1 and Volume 2—have taken literally untold thousands of players through the deepest recesses of guitar theory. A heart attack claimed Greene’s life on July 23, 2005, yet he continues to 96 PREMIER GUITAR NOVEMBER 2013 teach through his books, videos, and lesson guides, many of which are posted on his official website, tedgreene.com. Ted Greene was many things: musician, friend, eccentric, mentor, and student. But to many, he was simply a hero. Moving Torsos Theodore “Ted” Greene was born September 26, 1946, in Los Angeles, California. Music seemed to be woven into the fabric of his being. His mother recalled her baby rocking back and forth to rhythm from the time he could sit up. His intellect became apparent once he started school. He was a math whiz with an IQ of 160—well into genius territory. Greene received his first guitar in 1957 at age 11. “I had a horrible guitar with the highest action in the world, especially down at the nut,” he later reminisced. “I almost quit, but my parents’ encouragement and a true love of music carried me through.” Though he was left-handed, he opted to play right-handed. He took lessons from local jazz guitarist Sal Tardella. Despite his later affinity for the genre, said Greene, “the sounds of rock and roll were pulling my ears.” In 1960 he joined his first band, the Cage Kings, and acquired his first good guitar: a Gretsch 6120. He later admitted he wasn’t ready to play in a group. “But premierguitar.com
  • 87. 1982 Helps Fender design 1952 Blackface Telecaster reissue 1977 1971 Publishes Chord Chemistry 1969 Plays on Joe Byrd’s The American Metaphysical Circus Records Solo Guitar 2005 1976 Passes away July 23, from a heart attack at the age of 58 Publishes Modern Chord Progressions 1979 Publishes Jazz Guitar Single Note Soloing Volume 1 and Volume 2 it didn’t matter,” he said, “because we could make a lot of noise. That seemed adequate to get people’s lower torsos moving on the floor.” Greene didn’t embrace guitar as a lifestyle until after high school. At 19, he’d spend hours—even days—in his bedroom, obsessively expanding his music theory knowledge. As his longtime partner Barbara Franklin wrote in her memoir, My Life with the Chord Chemist, “If a book suggested doing an exercise in a few keys, such as spelling major triads, Ted would do the exercise in all keys, major and minor, until he had memorized them cold. Greene learned to instantly recognize everything from interval identification … premierguitar.com to knowing the quality of every chord on each scale degree, the many uses for each chord, the inversions, traditional voice leading, and more.” To Teach Is to Love In 1965, Greene found his calling when he accepted a teaching position at Ernie Ball Guitars in Tarzana, California. “I didn’t mean to be a guitar teacher,” he said, “but I just fell in love with it.” His playing ability and musical knowledge quickly attracted a large pool of prospective students, and soon there was a twoyear waiting list to study with him. Students were drawn to both the method and the man. Hundreds of Greene students will expound at great length on his kindness, patience, humor and generosity. Leon White—a Greene pupil and co-producer of Solo Guitar, Greene’s only solo album—recalled that, “If a guy came in and said, ‘I’m a little short this week and I can only pay you half,’ Ted would say, ‘Well, can you afford that half? Do you want to keep it and pay me some other time?’” In fact, throughout his life, Greene charged criminally low rates for lessons—usually no more than $25 per half hour. He just seemed to love teaching, and he believed that no one should be denied a chance to study with him because they couldn’t afford it. PREMIER GUITAR NOVEMBER 2013 97
  • 88. Ted Greene with jazz singer Cathy Segal-Garcia circa 1977. Meanwhile, Greene continued to gig around Los Angeles with various rock and blues acts. In 1967, he joined a group called Bluesberry Jam that featured future Canned Heat member Adolfo “Fito” de la Parra on drums. The group regularly played the Magic Mushroom club, as well as the larger Shrine Auditorium, where they supported such acts as the Doors, Iron Butterfly, Joe Cocker, and Alice Cooper. While Bluesberry Jam gained a following around the city, they never made it to the next level, and the band folded when de la Parra departed for Canned Heat. Sadly, no Bluesberry Jam recordings survive. However, Greene did record with psychedelic rocker Joe Byrd, including on Byrd’s 1969 album The American Metaphysical Circus. Greene then threw himself even deeper into teaching. Simple diagrams he’d previously drawn to demonstrate his concepts grew increasingly more detailed. Barbara Franklin would later recall how he made charts of all closedvoiced triads in all major and minor keys. “On the same page would be a list of the most common chord progressions to be memorized. The page went on to include adding the 6th, 7th, 9th, 11th, and 13th degree to each chord.” In fact, to say that Greene was systematic in his approach to teaching, playing, and writing music would be an understatement—to some it appeared to border on obsession. Others believe Greene might have suffered from an undiagnosed case of Asperger syndrome—an autismspectrum disorder that typically affects social interaction and is often accompanied by restrictive or repetitive interests and behaviors. Those who subscribe to this theory believe it explains his later decisions to limit his exposure to the public at large. Franklin notes in her memoir of Greene that, “This thought or that, a moment split by the minds’ idle chatter or a tune running through it and a week flies by.” Chord Chemist Dale Zdenek, owner of the music shop where Greene taught, took note of these minutely detailed diagrams. In 1971, Zdenek, who had no background in Greene often said, “I’d rather play at a retirement home for blue-haired old ladies than at a club. At least the old ladies would listen to and enjoy the music and not watch my hands the whole time.” publishing, proposed a book based on Greene’s work. Greene was interested, but instead of simply compiling his extant material, he decided to create something completely new. The resulting book, Chord Chemistry, went on to become essential reading for players seeking a deeper understanding of chords. Its success established Greene’s name in the guitar community, and the desire to study with him and see him perform increased exponentially. In 1976, Greene published a second important chord book, Modern Chord Progressions. (It’s worth noting that while the contents of Greene’s chord books were meant to be absorbed in the order they’re presented, they’re not so much formal methods as encyclopedias of ideas.) Meanwhile, Greene continued his own studies. He took eight weeks of lessons from the “Father of the 7-String Guitar,” George Van Eps, and worked on expanding his knowledge of single-note playing. In 1979, he published two books on the subject: Jazz Guitar Single Note Soloing Volume 1 and Volume 2. Greene’s four books offer up a staggering amount of information, including many concepts never before available in print. Even if he’d never done anything else, these volumes would have secured his place in guitar history. Telecaster Crazy In April of 1965 Greene acquired his first Fender Telecaster, a 1953 that cost $135. It was the beginning of a lifelong love affair with the Tele. Greene estimated that he owned 200 Telecasters at one point or another. “The versatility of the Telecaster is almost unmatched,” he said in an interview. When Fender decided to manufacture a reissue model of their famed 1952 Blackface Tele, the company turned to Greene and his vast collection while designing the prototype. Greene regularly offered suggestions about how to improve the reissue. Fender asked him to play the new guitars at their > Cont’d on p. 104 98 PREMIER GUITAR NOVEMBER 2013 premierguitar.com
  • 89. THE Gretsch Brian Setzer Signature Hollowbody in Vintage Orange Gretsch White Falcon with Bigsby Vox Custom AC30 30W Tube Combo with Celestian Creamback Speaker S H OP ON L I N E AT G CP L AT I N U M .COM
  • 90. Hallmarks of Ted Greene’s Style By jason shadrick T hroughout his life Ted Greene preached the gospel of harmony. Everything from blues to Baroque was fair game, and Greene made every chord move a teachable moment. Since his passing, many former students have made his handouts, arrangements, and lesson notes available through tedgreene. com. Nearly all the material consists of scanned versions of actual lesson handouts, and they feature Greene’s unique method for diagramming chords. Many of these documents are signed and dated, and contain what could be thought of as one of Ted’s Musical Commandments: “Don’t let the music die on the page.” In this lesson we’ll look at two distinctly different (but sublimely “Ted”) ways Greene approached the blues. Fig. 1 is a gospel-influenced blues progression that makes use of many concepts that Greene illustrated in his opus on harmony, Chord Chemistry. This blues in G starts with a I-IV progression in the first measure to establish the sound of the key. One of the most essential—and amazing—aspects of Greene’s style is his masterful command of voice leading, which is the technique of moving from one chord to another in the most musically economical way possible. To better understand this idea, think of each chord shape as a collection of individual voices rather than a “grip” or “shape.” In the first measure, notice how Greene keeps the common tone (G) on top while moving the lower two notes up to the next closest chord tones. Creating a smooth and melodic series of chords, while still sticking to a harmonic framework, is like solving a challenging puzzle. In the third and fourth measures, Greene uses a scalar bass line (D–E–F–E–D–C–B) to set up a G7/B chord going into the IV chord (C7). Greene uses a dim7 chord in the next measure to create some tension before returning to the I chord in the sixth measure. A diminished chord is made up of a series of minor third Fig. 1 #4 œ & 4 œ œ G/D C/E œ œ œ G/D 12 9 12 10 10 12 ˙ # œ nœœ œ & bœ œ œ œ ˙ ˙ ˙ C7 œ œ bœ nœœ œ œ œ G‹7/D C7 G/D œ œ œ C/E œ œ œ G7/F œ œ nœ C/E œ œ œ G/D œ œ œ D9/C 12 9 8 9 8 8 10 8 8 9 8 12 9 12 10 12 12 12 10 12 9 8 10 8 10 8 10 12 13 12 10 C7 G‹7/D C7 ˙ ˙ ˙ ˙ œ bœ œ #œ 8 9 8 8 10 8 8 9 8 8 9 8 8 10 8 9 D/A G/B D/A # & œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ G7/B #œ œ n˙ œ n˙ œ ˙ 9 7 9 8 8 7 œ œ œ œ œ œ G/D œ œ œ C/E œ œ œ G7/F œ œ nœ C/G œ œ œ G7/F œ œ nœ C/E œ œ œ G/D œ œ œ G7/B 8 9 8 9 8 12 9 12 10 12 12 12 14 12 12 12 10 12 9 10 5 12 C/G œ œ œ œ 11 12 11 C©º7 D7/F© bœ #œ œ œ ˙ ˙ ˙ ˙ 9 9 10 12 13 15 13 12 10 7 G C©º7 œ bœ #œ G/D œ nœ œ bEº7 œ #œ œ F/A nœ œ œ C7/B¨ C7/G œ œ bœ bœ œ œ œ œ œ œ nœ œ nœ #bœ œ G7/F E¨9 nœ œ œ D7 C7 nœœ bœ œ œ œ 7 4 7 5 7 4 5 0 5 2 5 3 5 5 3 2 0 0 12 8 12 9 15 11 12 12 10 11 7 10 9 8 5 7 5 2 3 5 6 3 3 9 10 12 13 11 10 8 100 PREMIER GUITAR NOVEMBER 2013 premierguitar.com
  • 91. ARTISAN HANDCRAFTED EFFECTS premierguitar.com PREMIER GUITAR NOVEMBER 2013 101 VintageKing_PG_0813_Guitone.indd 1 8/26/13 10:55 AM
  • 92. Hallmarks of Ted Greene’s Style Cont’d intervals, and this allows any note to function as the root. The scalar bass line technique gets a reprise in measures seven and eight before the progression heads to the V chord in measure nine. While focusing on economy of motion and outlining the harmony, Greene creates a somewhat symmetrical melody line over the V and IV chords, above the ever-so-slightly shifting the harmony underneath. Finally, in the last two measures he combines the previous diminished harmony with a masterful bass line to create a turnaround that’s as functional as it is sophisticated. In Fig. 2, we see how Greene combines a traditional form with more extended harmonies and substitutions. The first thing you’ll notice about the voicings is that they’re almost exclusively played on ˙ ™™ ˙ 4 b˙ ™™ &4 ˙ Fig. 2 #œ œ ‰ bœ œ J B¨7(#9) F13 œ ™™ œ œ™ œ™ the 5–4–2–1 string set. Greene was a devout fingerstyle player and these “split” voicings will expand your right-hand technique and suggest alternatives to typical jazz grips. When Greene originally presented this material, it was merely a bunch of chord diagrams on a page. Following his advice, I took those chords and added a more syncopated rhythm. If you look at how Greene constructed these chords, all of them start on either the 3 or 7. Those two notes are the most essential harmonic elements because they define both the chord’s quality and tonality. The first harmonic twist is in the fourth measure where Greene inserts a IIm–V7 progression to create a stronger pull into the B%9 chord in the next measure. The key changes momentarily to A% in the sixth measure with a #œ œ bœ œ J œ ™™ œ bœ ™™ ‰ bœ w w bw w F13 Ó IIm-V7. The E%13 in measure six keeps two common tones while the harmony gracefully shifts up for a return to the I chord in the next measure. The eighth measure contains the standard altered VI chord, but this time its own altered V7 precedes it. In harmonic terms, this measure can either be thought of as simply a III7–VI7 progression in the key of F, or an added secondary dominant (V of VI). The final four measures begin with a dom7 chord built on the second degree of the scale. Usually in the blues form this would be a min7 chord, but Greene deftly adds a tritone substitution after this in order to let the lower notes of the chord remain while the upper notes shift. This sets up a proper IIm–V7 progression in the next measure before ending with a I–VI7–II7–V7 turnaround. C‹11 #˙ ˙ b˙ ˙ F7(#5) 13 15 13 14 13 15 13 15 13 14 13 12 ˙ 13 14 12 11 12 11 13 12 13 13 13 12 œ œ œ & bœ B¨9 ‰ B¨‹9 œ œ œ Ó œ J E¨13 ˙ ˙ ˙ ˙ F7 œ ™™ œ bœ ™ œ™ B¨13 ˙ ˙ b˙ b˙ œ œ bœ œ J ˙ ˙ ˙ ˙ nœ œ #œ Œ ‰ œ J D7[åÁ] ## ˙ ˙ n˙ #˙ A7(#9) 13 13 13 13 13 13 13 13 13 13 15 13 12 13 13 11 12 11 12 11 11 11 11 10 13 12 12 11 11 10 10 9 ˙ ˙ & ˙ ˙ G9 D¨9 ™ bb œ ™ œ bœ ™ œ™ œ œ bœ œ J G‹7 ˙ ˙ ˙ ˙ C7[äÁ] #b œ ™™ œ ‰ bœ ™™ œ ˙ ˙ b˙ ˙ F9 10 10 11 9 10 8 9 9 8 8 9 8 9 8 8 8 8 7 7 6 102 PREMIER GUITAR NOVEMBER 2013 D7(#9) G13(#9) b˙ ˙ ˙ ˙ #b ˙ b˙ ˙ ˙ 10 10 9 11 9 9 8 9 8 8 7 n˙ #˙ ˙ C7[åÁ] premierguitar.com
  • 93. When we decided to create a delay pedal that delivers the sound and feel of iconic tape echo machines, we relentlessly studied and faithfully recreated every last nuance. Months were spent in our sound design labs capturing the warm, saturated, distinctive qualities of tape echo. Get the full bodied, pristine sound of a factory fresh tape machine all the way to the gnarled qualities of worn out tape. • Meticulous dTape™ Echo Algorithms • Über-Flexible Tape Character Controls • Tape Age, Wow & Flutter, Tape Crinkle and More • Designed and Built in the USA strymon.net/elcapistan
  • 94. Must-Watch Moments Live footage of Ted Greene is quite rare, but the following three segments on YouTube show the genius in his element as both a performer and an instructor. Ted Greene performs a masterful and completely improvised performance of the Beatles classic “Eleanor Rigby.” YouTube search term: Ted Greene E Rigby(TedGreene.com) Greene’s performance of “Embraceable You” is a great example of his chord mastery. YouTube search term: Ted Greene plays A Gershwin classic (TedGreene.com) Greene doing what he did best: teaching. Lovely examples of classical and jazz pieces throughout. YouTube search term: Ted Greene Clinic 1982 NAMM show debut, which he happily did. In later years Greene’s favorite Tele was a hybrid: a ’52 body fitted with a ’51 Esquire neck. He routed the body himself, installing two DiMarzio DualSound humbuckers in the neck and middle positions. He also replaced the stock bridge pickup with one from a 1954 model. Interestingly, Greene removed the pole pieces from a pair of stock Gibson humbuckers and installed them into the DiMarzios, which were then set low into the guitar—beneath the pickguard, even—with the pole pieces set high near the strings. His explanation for the unusual parts swapping and positioning was that he did it to “get rid of the mud.” Another uncommon choice was Greene’s choice of rather heavy strings for his Telecasters, including a .013 or sometimes even a .014 for the high E. While Telecasters held a special place in Green’s heart, he owned many other guitars, mostly Gibsons. His collection included a goldtop Les Paul, an ES-335, and a number of hollowbody archtops. Greene was best known for playing highly modified Telecasters, but he also loved classic Gibson guitars. Solo Guitar In 1976 Greene began performing his first solo gigs, taking up a Sunday night residency at the Smoke House in Toluca Lake, California. Southern California guitarists flocked to hear the master perform. One 104 PREMIER GUITAR NOVEMBER 2013 premierguitar.com
  • 95. The SETH LOVER pickup.
  • 96. frequent attendee was Greene’s friend and sometime student Leon White. Recalls White, “In the parking lot after the show I said to him, ‘We have to record that. You don’t have to prepare anything. Just come and sit down and play.’ We ended up having that same discussion in the Smoke House parking lot for two years. He just didn’t want to do it!” Ultimately, White’s persistence won the day, and Greene went into the studio with White and friend William Perry. Over the course of roughly 10 hours spread out over two days, Greene sat alone in the studio, playing almost continuously. There was no game plan, not even a song list—just Greene playing whatever came to mind. Greene’s uncompromising meticulousness sometimes made for a grueling process. “He played all those songs front to back, so each tune is a single performance,” says White. “He would start up on something, get three “If a guy came in and said, ‘I’m a little short this week and I can only pay you half,’ Ted would say, ‘Well, can you afford that half? Do you want to keep it and pay me some other time?’” —Leon White and a half minutes into it, not like it, and stop. We were going through reels of tape like you have no idea!” The result was Solo Guitar, a breathtakingly beautiful set of standards played as only Ted Greene could play them. The album received near-universal praise. “On this record he defies the technical physics of jazz melody chord voicings but creates an organic and inspired listening delight,” Steve Vai told Guitarist magazine. “It’s a must for anyone who puts their fingers on an instrument with strings.” Sadly, Solo Guitar is Green’s only solo release. A Teacher Affects Eternity Greene ceased writing instructional books after 1979, though he continued teaching and learning. For the rest of his life, he coached aspiring guitarists at his home, at Musicians Institute in Los Angeles, and at seminars throughout Southern California. PLAY LONGER PLAY LOUDER PLAY HARDER www.bourns.com/proaudio 106 PREMIER GUITAR NOVEMBER 2013 premierguitar.com
  • 97. Rodney Crowell and Collings Guitars Rodney Crowell and his 1993 Collings C10 Deluxe Serious Guitars | www.collingsguitars.com
  • 98. Greene’s genius survives through his books and recordings—and the hundreds of students whose lives he touched. He stopped playing solo gigs, too— reportedly because he disliked the way guitar players would scrutinize his technique and execution on the guitar rather than soaking in the music he drew from the instrument. According to Leon White, Greene often said, “I’d rather play at a retirement home for blue-haired old ladies than at a club. At least the old ladies would listen to and enjoy the music and not watch my hands the whole time.” When Greene passed away on July 23, 2005, approximately 700 people attended his memorial, nearly all of them guitarists. Greene had many loves in his life: baseball cards, fast cars, and his partner Barbara Franklin. But above all else, he loved music and teaching. As the noted writer Henry Adams once said, “A teacher affects eternity. He can never tell where his influence stops.” Greene’s legacy may outlive us all. 108 PREMIER GUITAR NOVEMBER 2013 premierguitar.com
  • 99. Neal Schön © 2013 PRS Guitars / Photo by Jay Blakesberg with his signature NS 15 and NS 14 model PRS Guitars Building on a relationship that spans more than two decades, Paul Reed Smith and Neal Schön created the NS 15 and NS 14. Everything about these guitars was carefully chosen to meet the needs of this legendary guitar player. www.prsguitars.com
  • 100. Acoustic Soundboard The Sonic Effect of Time and Vibration BY Rick Turner How much an acoustic guitar’s tone changes due to age and playing is a subject of debate, but surely this 1946 Martin D-18 sounds different today from when it was first strung up. D o acoustic guitars really “open up” with age and playing? It’s a phenomenon that every repair and guitar-building luthier I know believes in. All the top professional guitarists I’ve talked to about it also agree. But there is a vocal band of forum posters who steadfastly refuse to accept that guitars change and become more responsive to a player’s touch over the course of days, weeks, months, years, and decades. The argument usually stalemates at the “no scientific proof ” fork in the road. True, there is little or no published scientific proof that guitars change tonally with age. The noting of the phenomenon is mostly anecdotal and (as is often pointed out) long-term memory of tone is also poorly understood. But as a guitar maker, I can state unequivocally that there are huge tonal changes in the first 24, 48, and 72 hours of stringing up a new guitar. This alone leads me to believe that even though the changes slow down, they don’t just stop after a month, a year, or a decade. One style of flattop I build is made fairly stiff to enhance midrange projection. 110 PREMIER GUITAR NOVEMBER 2013 I’ve had to learn that the first sounds I hear are not the ones I’ll hear later. Since I can’t judge the results from the first strum, I have to wait a few days to get an idea of what the guitar will sound like. After it has been played for a couple of months, the guitar is about 90 percent of the way there. And after a few years, the tone will have settled for the most part, though it will continue to change. So what’s going on? Are there physical changes from the stress of string tension? Does vibration loosen up wood fibers along nodal lines, much like the phenomenon of metal fatigue? What is the effect of oils in the wood that harden and crystallize as the volatile organic compounds slowly evaporate from the wood? Are there other explanations for wood changing with time? And the big question: Can these changes be artificially enhanced? Luthier Alan Carruth has probably done more in-depth investigation into the science of acoustic guitar design than anyone else. One bit of science he has brought to the attention of the lutherie community is that wood consists mainly of cellulose, lignin, and hemicellulose, and that all wood gradually loses hemicellulose—a soluble polysaccharide—to evaporation over a long period of time. The significance is that wood loses some weight along with some strength as it ages, but it does not lose stiffness as fast as it loses the tensile strength. As long as the tensile strength remains sufficient to withstand string tension, there is a net gain in one of the most important features of tonewood: the stiffness-to-weight ratio, which is known as Young’s modulus. Let me back up a bit: The difference between strength and stiffness is one of the keys to understanding tonewoods. Tensile strength is a measure of the ultimate breaking point of any material put into a stretching mode. Stiffness, however, is a result of tensile modulus—a measure of how much a material will stretch under a given load. Hence, you can have a material with a very high breaking point (high tensile strength), but it may stretch and elongate a great deal before it breaks. On the other hand, you can have another material that will barely stretch at all before it reaches its breaking point. Two modern materials that illustrate this are aramid fibers (Kevlar) and carbon fiber. Kevlar is used in products from bullet-resistant vests to very expensive racing yacht sails. Carbon fiber is often used by luthiers these days to add stiffness without a weight penalty to guitar necks and bracing. Kevlar has a higher tensile strength than steel for a given weight, but it stretches, which can be an advantage in many applications. Carbon fiber has a higher tensile modulus (stiffness factor) than the same weight in steel, but it will fail sooner than Kevlar. The trick in harnessing the tensile-strength and tensile-modulus factors of different materials is in knowing where you need which properties. Different wood species and individual pieces all have different ratings for strength, stiffness, crush resistance, tendency to split, how much they may damp vibrations (the opposite of resonance), how well they glue, etc. The stiffness, resonant properties, density, and ultimate strength are the four most important aspects of what defines a tonewood, and these are also the properties that change with age and thus affect tone and responsiveness of guitars. Next time out, we’ll continue this discussion and explore even more esoteric issues, such as methods being used to age wood and instruments artificially. Rick Turner is a longtime luthier and founder of Renaissance Guitars, Rick Turner Guitars, and Compass Rose Guitars. He helped pioneer the boutique guitar with the Model 1 he built for Lindsay Buckingham in the ‘70s. Rumor has it that he can build a mandolin in four days. premierguitar.com
  • 101. guitar shop 101 How to Shim a Bolt-On Neck Story and Photos by John LeVan Recently a client brought an older Fender Telecaster into the shop for a setup. The action was really high, but the saddles had run out of adjustment and couldn’t drop any lower. After careful inspection, I determined that the neck needed a shim to fix the problem. Fortunately, shimming a bolt-on neck isn’t too hard. In fact, if you’re handy with basic tools you can do this yourself, but you need to understand the process and know what mistakes to avoid. Let’s investigate. Understanding neck angle. Our journey begins with neck angle, which is the pitch of the neck relative to the guitar’s body and bridge. When the neck angle is set correctly, an electric guitar’s saddles can be raised or lowered to create comfortable playing action and optimum tone and sustain. But when the neck angle is too low (Fig. 1), the saddles can’t be moved down enough to bring the strings close to the frets. The guitar is hard to play and the intonation suffers. Conversely, when the neck angle is too high (Fig. 2), you can’t raise the strings enough to prevent fretting out or buzzing—even when the saddles are adjusted to their maximum height. In this column, we’ll learn how to fix a neck angle that’s too low. Typically, this problem can be resolved using a shim (Fig. 3). What causes a neck angle that’s too low? Most players don’t realize that an electric guitar can compress over time. As an instrument ages, constant string tension can cause the body to become slightly concave, and this changes the neck angle. This doesn’t occur with every guitar, but it is common. Many experts say that the angle for a bolt-on neck should be between zero and five degrees. From my experience, this is correct in most cases. But what I find even more important is how you adjust the neck to its optimal angle. When this is done properly, your guitar will play and sound at its best. When the neck angle is adjusted improperly, it can ruin a perfectly good neck. If your guitar plays well and the saddles offer enough adjustment range for you to set the action correctly, you don’t need to change anything. However, if the angle is too low and you can’t move the saddles down any further, the neck needs a shim. Shimming dos and don’ts. I’ve seen just about every type of material used to shim a neck, including a matchbook cover, metal washers, a broken Popsicle stick, wood scraps (Fig. 4), and a guitar pick (Fig. 5). For starters, don’t use paper or plastic, and above all, only use a “full-pocket” shim. Here’s why a full-pocket shim is essential: When someone uses, say, a matchbook cover or guitar pick, it leaves a gap between the body and neck. Over time, the screws holding the neck force it to fill that void. As a result, the neck warps and the end of the fretboard looks like a ski jump. Next thing you know, the fretboard has to be sanded to remove the warp and then refretted. If you’re lucky, the neck will have a thick enough fretboard to allow resurfacing. If not, the neck is a total loss. Either way, it’s going to cost you hundreds of dollars. To avoid these problems, use a fullpocket shim that fits inside the entire neck pocket and is shaped like a thin wedge, with the slightly taller end facing the bridge This raises the end of the fretboard just a bit, which is what you want when correcting a neck angle that’s too low. What you’ll need. The best material for a shim is a thin piece of maple veneer. Most bolt-on necks are made of maple, so it makes sense to make a shim from the same material. The wood can be easily shaped to fit the neck pocket and angled to the proper degree. I typically start with a piece of maple about .060” thick. The project requires a small hobby saw, 80-grit self-adhesive sandpaper attached to a flat plastic or wood sanding block, a belt sander, a hole punch, a pencil, and some superglue. Crafting a shim. Use a hobby saw to cut out a rectangular piece of wood that’s slightly wider and a bit longer than the neck pocket. Begin by tracing the neck heel onto your rectangular piece of maple (Fig. 6). Next, using the 80-grit sandpaper or a belt sander, trim the wood along the neck-heel line. Frequently check your progress to assure a close fit (Fig. 7). When you’ve shaped the shim so it sits securely inside the neck pocket, trim off any excess length. Using the rear edge of the neck pocket as a ruler, mark the trim line on the shim, remove the extra wood with the hobby saw, and then sand the edge smooth. Once the shim fits the neck pocket, the next step is to shade its entire bottom with a pencil (Fig. 8). This will help you know where to sand and how much material to remove. Next, place the shim on the belt sander—make sure it’s turned off—with the shaded side face down. Lay your sanding block on top of the shim with the 80-grit paper against the wood (Fig. 9). Holding the block, turn on the belt sander while keeping pressure on the block. Apply more pressure to the end of the shim that will face the headstock. This will create the subtle wedge shape you need to correct a neck angle that’s too low. Frequently check the bottom of the shim to make sure it’s getting sanded evenly from side to side, but developing a slight front-to-back angle (Fig. 10). This is where the pencil marks come in handy. Tilt-Screw Syndrome Some electric guitars have a “micro-tilt” assembly in the neck pocket (Fig. 12). By inserting a hex wrench through a hole in the neck plate, you can push an Allen screw against a metal disc embedded in the neck heel and adjust the neck angle without using a shim. This invention, in my opinion, is a great way to force the end of the neck to warp or bow. If your guitar has micro-tilt hardware, I’d remove the Allen adjustment screw from the body and simply bolt the neck flat against the pocket. If the neck angle is too low, use a full-pocket shim to correct the problem. 112 PREMIER GUITAR NOVEMBER 2013 premierguitar.com
  • 102. Fig. 1. This neck angle is too low, so even dropping the saddles flush to the bridge plate won’t bring the strings close enough to the fretboard to play comfortably. Fig. 2. This neck angle is too high. The guitar is unplayable even with the saddles raised to their maximum height. Fig. 3. A full-pocket neck shim can correct a neck angle that’s too low. Fig. 4. A shim made from a Popsicle stick or scraps of wood leaves a gap between the neck pocket and neck. Eventually, pressure from the neck screws will warp the neck as it tries to fill the void. Fig. 5. Another no-no: Using a guitar pick as a shim. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 Fig. 6. Tracing the neck heel contours onto a full-pocket maple shim. Fig. 7. Checking how the shim fits into the neck pocket. Fig. 8. Using a pencil to mark the bottom of the shim before sanding it into a subtle wedge. Fig. 9. Getting ready to sand the shim to its proper thickness and angle. Fig. 10. Checking the bottom of the shim to confirm that the end facing the headstock is sanded a bit thinner than the end facing the bridge. The pencil marks tell the story. Fig. 11. Punching holes for the neck screws after reinforcing the screw-tip impressions with superglue. Fig. 12. The micro-tilt neck adjustment system uses an Allen screw to press against a metal disc embedded in the neck heel. premierguitar.com Don’t sand away too much wood—if need be, you can return to the sander to remove a little more wood from the bottom of the shim. Work incrementally so you won’t have to start from scratch. Once you’ve sanded the shim into a subtle wedge and smoothed the top, it’s time to punch holes to accommodate the four neck screws. Place the shim into the neck pocket with the shaded side down. Be sure it’s oriented so the thicker end of the wedge faces the bridge. Insert the neck bolts and gently turn them until they each make a shallow impression in the shim. Remove the shim and place a few drops of superglue around each screw-tip impression to reinforce the wood where you’ll be punching holes for the neck screws. Using the screw impressions to center your punch tool, make four holes in the shim. Work slowly and carefully to avoid cracking the shim as you punch holes in it. Following the same orientation described above, reinsert the shim into the neck pocket. Bolt the neck onto the body, string up, and tune the guitar to pitch. From there, measure the action and test playability. Remember: The problem you’re correcting is a low neck angle that prevented you from adjusting the saddles down far enough to create comfortable action. The shim is working properly if you can use the saddle screws to set the action the way you like it. The saddle screws should offer sufficient adjustment range to lower or raise the action. If the action is too low with the shim in place—even with the saddles raised— you need to remove the shim and sand it thinner. It may take several attempts to achieve the correct thickness and angle. Carving a shim takes time and patience, but the reward is well worth the effort. John levan has written five guitar repair books, all published by Mel Bay. His bestseller, Guitar Care, Setup & Maintenance, is a detailed guide with a forward by Bob Taylor. LeVan welcomes questions about his PG column or books. Drop an email to guitarservices@aol.com. PREMIER GUITAR NOVEMBER 2013 113
  • 103. The bass bench Name That Bass BY heiko hoepfinger Fig. 1. A still unnamed 4-string bass. Fig. 2. The huge circuit board is mounted underneath the pickguard. Fig. 3. Removing the fake neck plate revealed a safe hiding place for the battery. Fig. 1 W hen you’ve run a shop for far more than a decade, you begin to believe you’ve seen it all, but every once in a while someone shows up with a curiosity that makes you laugh, scratch your head, or both. Sometimes it’s just a broken instrument, where the story behind it makes your day. Other times you’re introduced to someone’s soldering art, adventurous home mods, or morethan-creative wirings. And then there are the flea market finds that drag you down into the builder’s work and world. Here’s one of those basses (Fig. 1). I’ll admit, I wasn’t able to determine what this is, though the current owner would be glad to know more about it. It might be a one-off homemade bass or just a heavily modded production instrument. But it’s quite a curiosity, so let’s get into it. The basic shape and appearance is reminiscent of an older Eko instrument. Eko was an Italian company that had their best times in the ’60s and ’70s. They made copies of violin-body basses, built acoustic basses, had a line of acoustic and electric guitars, and also manufactured for Vox and others at that time. Eko instruments were known for poor quality and the tiny tone of cheap plastic. Still, they had their fans— especially in surf and psychedelic music—and Eko’s freaky shapes, rocker switches, and sparkly finishes surely helped here. Okay, so much for the basic shape. In this case, the interesting stuff is in the details. Removing the pickguard revealed a huge cavity and a large printed circuit board (PCB) mounted to the 114 PREMIER GUITAR NOVEMBER 2013 pickguard (Fig. 2). PCBs looked way different at that time, so it’s hard to tell whether this was a one-off job or a series model. This seems to be a circuit for fuzz or distortion, and the builder spared no efforts and mounted it on massive spacers. He used six slide switches and instead of mounting them on top, he built an elaborate mechanism to let several rocker switches do the job. Because the PCB hosts a couple of active parts, one would immediately expect to find a battery, but there’s no obvious battery in sight. Perhaps the unusual, old 5-pin DIN audio output jack might have also supplied power? Fans of vintage instruments know that removing the neck can sometimes reveal a hidden note, date, or the builder’s name. So off it goes. Surprise! A second and very small neck plate actually holds the neck to the body. And here’s the battery compartment—not a very common or convenient location (Fig. 3). The small label reads “9809,” and this might very well be the consecutive serial number, as Eko was one of the biggest European manufacturers at that time. Prowling for other unusual features, I noticed a loose strap pin. Backing it out revealed a hidden tiny screwdriver! Nice idea and detail. While the bridge and tailpiece could have been production hardware—they often looked pretty sturdy back then— the three pickup housings use the same cover as the bridge. The only difference is they have a cutout for the pickup. This opening exposes a Pertinax PCB plate with tiny pole pieces that in no way align with the strings. But that’s probably not a big concern because you can’t adjust the pickup height either. The neck appears to be homemade because the fretboard looks like it was fabricated with a chainsaw. Hey, sanding is for wusses. The frets are all straight, but several frets in the upper register have Fig. 2 Fig. 3 identical spacing, which makes the neck look even more like a home build. It’s easy to spend a lot of time investigating such an oddity, and imagining a builder’s strategy is always the most enjoyable part of a repair job for me. With this bass, the outcome was very much out of the ordinary, as this is definitely an unplayable instrument that totally fails in both intonation and pickups. There’s no way this bass was created by a luthier—or even an experienced bass player. But the execution of some details is stunningly laborious and clearly done with affection, which makes this bass one of the most schizophrenic instruments I’ve ever encountered. Heiko Hoepfinger is a German physicist and long-time bassist, classical guitarist, and motorcycle enthusiast. His work on fuel cells for the European orbital glider Hermes led him to form BassLab (basslab.de)—a manufacturer of monocoque guitars and basses. premierguitar.com
  • 104. RIGHT ON TH E MARK Now you don’t have to choose between the clean attack of a solidstate amp or the warmth and richness of a tube preamp. With the Little Mark Tube 800 you can choose either — or a mix of both. And with 800 WATTS of stage-filling power, it’s the most advanced, lightweight, and tweak-able bass head you’ll ever experience. LittleMark Tube 800 79999 $ shown with 104HR Cabinet $84999 Now is the time to make your mark, exclusively at Guitar Center and Musician’s Friend ©2013 Mark Bass
  • 105. on bass Bringing It to the Stage BY Victor Brodén T he great Billy Sheehan once said that playing bass is a full-contact sport. I love that statement. To move air, we deal with bigger strings, higher action, and larger equipment than our guitar-playing brethren. It’s just more physical … period. For us bassists, it’s also an ongoing challenge to bring the same precision to the stage that we’re used to in the recording studio or band practice. Playing well live is a personal obsession and passion of mine. But being a performing bassist is what I dreamt of as a child, and it still makes up about 75 percent of my work. The challenges of playing onstage range from artistic to physical. When we practice sitting down, the bass is on our lap. If you hold your bass exactly where it rests on your torso while in the sitting position, and then slowly stand up, you’ll see that you end up with the bass very high on your body. This may not be a cool look, but it’s where all your hard-earned muscle memory is. Personally, I compromise between this position and a more low-slung, rocker look: It’s high enough to where I can accurately execute my parts, yet low enough that it still looks “right.” I use a strap that has a little bit of give and moves with me when I move onstage, but it doesn’t move enough to where the bass feels like a yo-yo. Finding the right position for your bass, and finding the right strap for your body and liveperformance style are huge factors. It’s no secret that preparing for a live show with a new artist requires plenty of practice to learn the songs well. After quite a few years of playing for majorlabel acts based here in Nashville, I’ve developed a song-performance approach that varies according to what different types of artists typically prefer. For instance, many female artists in the modern-country genre lean in the pop direction, and they seem to be more comfortable if the band honors the original parts. Hearing signature licks 116 PREMIER GUITAR NOVEMBER 2013 and setups for certain phrases or sections of a song can provide confidence and familiarity in a live setting. I’ll generally honor the album parts for the first few shows of a tour and play the same fills as the record. But after a handful of shows, I’ll often add my own flavor to certain licks. Judging by either the positive or confused reaction of the artist, I’ll know whether or not it’s okay to dig deeper and get more adventurous creatively. Male artists in the modern-country genre (where I make a large part of my living) tend to lean a little more toward classic rock than pop. I usually aim for a Verdine White is a perfect example of a bassist who executes with stunning precision while maintaining an almost impossible energy level. bigger, rounder tone than what’s on their recorded songs to achieve a little bit of intentional “live sloppiness.” These artists often want their live act to be more of a house party, so I’ll sometimes simplify certain sections to make sure I can entertain well. This approach also helps the FOH engineer provide a tight mix. I recently caught Bruno Mars in concert, and his bassist Jamareo Artis brought high energy, grooves, and furious licks for two hours straight. He reminded me of Verdine White, the non-stop show-machine from Earth, Wind & Fire. The ramp in front of the stage—an area usually reserved for a lead singer—was used almost exclusively by Artis during the first three songs. I was simply blown away by his ability to maintain such an energy level for the duration of the show, while still providing world-class playing. I’m a big fan of “show bands” like Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band, Prince, and James Brown. Unfortunately, they’re a dying breed. Most of today’s stars rely on dancers, bigscreens, and other production tricks to deliver a “larger-than-life” show. Show bands keep audience attention with interplay between the bandleader and the musicians, and by demanding crowd participation. Successful execution of the showband concept is sometimes difficult for bassists because as a general rule, we play all the way through most of the songs. Guitarists and keyboardists generally get breaks in songs. Bassists also have to be more concerned with the evenness and consistency of attack. Try playing even eighth-notes while jogging across the stage or while doing simple choreography. It’s very hard, but not impossible. Physical fitness is key. Eating right and hitting the gym is incredibly important to the success of a performer. Bruno Mars’ band members couldn’t maintain their level of energy if they weren’t in shape. Adrenaline is certainly a factor (I know because I’m an adrenaline junkie), but it can only carry you so far. Adrenaline can also impair your precision. It’s true that there have been great performers who were out of shape. But to consistently perform live at the very highest level, physical fitness is an absolute requirement in order to last long enough to give the audience more than what they paid for. And that’s the definition of our job, right? Until next time, keep up the hard work in the woodshed and be sure to keep taking care of yourself, too! Victor Brodén is a Nashville bassist and producer who has toured and recorded with more than 25 major-label artists, including LeAnn Rimes, Richard Marx, Casting Crowns, and Randy Houser. You can reach him at vbroden@yahoo.com. premierguitar.com
  • 106. EBS PROFESSIONAL BASS EQUIPMENT - DON’T PLAY WITHOUT IT! DUAL CHANNEL, 750 W RMS SOLID STATE/ TUBE HYBRID BASS AMP INFO AND VIDEO DEMO AVAILABLE AT WWW.EBSSWEDEN.COM Distributed in USA by: Musical Distributors Group (MDG) Phone 866-632-8346 www.musicaldistributors.com w w w .ebssweden.com
  • 107. Warwick Bass Camp 2013 The Best of the Bass Set in the lush, luxurious Markneukirchen region of Germany, this weeklong bash of pro clinics and jam sessions gives new meaning to “bass in your face.” Designed to celebrate a musician’s craft and personal journey, the event offers campers insights to last a lifetime. By Jonathan Herrera O f all the lucky things one gets to do in life, surely camp is one of the best. What’s not to like? You get to decamp (ahem) from your real life and flee to some beautiful hideaway. Strangers become fast friends, and there’s an invigorating intensity to the shared purpose, whether it’s weaving lanyards, learning archery, or, in my case, playing bass. The Warwick Bass Camp is unlike any event in the world. First, the setting. Warwick is headquartered in Markneukirchen, Germany, a bucolic little village near the Czech border, surrounded by lush forest and rolling, cow-dappled hills. Its beguiling Central European charms aside, Markneukirchen has a rich heritage in instrument making, dating back centuries. And while this tradition still continues in all its mom-and-pop glory, with small lutheries and brass instrument makers scattered about, Warwick (and its sister brand, Framus) has brought a decidedly modern edge to the local trade. Its carbon-neutral factory (a music industry first) is a gleaming Teutonic masterpiece, all brushed stainless and exotic hardwoods. Picture a Porsche dealership, but instead of 911s, the showroom is packed with boutique basses. The wünderbar architecture is a good clue to the financial resources at play here, as the camp made clear. Whether it’s the resort-like (if slightly surreal) hotel—a former Communist party retreat, according to the scuttlebutt—or the daily catered meals, or the everpresent, ever-cheerful staff, Warwick has undoubtedly invested heavily in making its camp a nearly luxurious affair. Said President Hans-Peter Wilfer, “When we invest in the community like this, it’s good for the whole industry. This isn’t about getting people to play Warwick. It’s about creating an amazing experience for the campers that they can then share in their own communities. It’s good for all bass players.” This investment is perhaps most obvious in the sheer density of iconic talent assembled to teach the campers. When John Patitucci, Victor and Regi Wooten, Leland Sklar, Steve Bailey, and Stuart Hamm (among many other bright lights) can hang for the week, you know the organizers are deeply invested in the event. The camp began with the first of what would be five dinners at the Alpenhof, a German restaurant and hotel straight off the Universal backlot: waitresses in bust-squeezing peasant dresses, men proudly rocking lederhosen, and enough beer and sausage to sate half of Milwaukee. The coolest thing about the place, as we’d soon discover, was the dining room stage, which would play host to ridiculously cool jams between students, between teachers, and between students and teachers the development. The Left: The hustle and bustle of bass camp … don’t forget to get enough beauty sleep! Center: The mentors for Warwick Bass Camp 2013 are among the most talented low-end masters alive. Right: Attendees were given the opportunity to jam and collaborate with their fellow bass compadres—other students and teachers. premierguitar.com PREMIER GUITAR NOVEMBER 2013 119
  • 108. into town. Feel human. It makes all the difference. Once camp began, it was basically all-day clinics, augmented with much informal hanging. I couldn’t possibly cover the full breadth of the material on offer from the amazing array of clinicians, so I’ll touch on the stuff that touched me most. John Patitucci Interestingly, bass virtuoso John Patitucci focused his clinic session on rhythm. “The truth is, nothing else matters comparatively,” he told students at Warwick’s annual bass event. whole week long. After introductory remarks by Wilfer and a few of the teachers, and some post-chat jamming, it was off to bed for much-needed sleep. rumbling for breakfast, I arise to shower and head out, errantly glancing at my watch as I peel back the covers. Oops. It’s 1 a.m. Blech. Not to belabor the point, but this was a first glance into what the European attendees have over us Americans: sleep. If you’re thinking of attending next year, do yourself a favor and come early. Acclimate. Have a stroll And So It Begins I yawn myself awake, self-satisfied that I’ve managed to get a decent night’s sleep, jet lag be damned. Tummy Fig. 1 ?4 4 ¤ ? ‰ ¤ œ #œ 0 2 œ œ œ 5 œ œ #œ œ 4 7 2 œ œ 9 10 œ œ 3 œ #œ 12 7 œ œ bœ œ 2 #œ œ 11 7 3 3 5 œ œ 14 9 7 10 œ œ 17 9 5 ‰ 6 ≈ 9 bœ #œ 14 15 11 10 3 ¤ œ œ œ œ # œ œ œ bœ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ bœ ‰ 3 bœ ? ‰ ‰ œ œ œ œ #œ bœ œ œ œ 3 3 ‰ œ 11 5 0 120 PREMIER GUITAR NOVEMBER 2013 2 0 0 4 5 6 3 7 12 13 10 10 6 3 3 11 5 12 14 10 10 8 9 10 10 6 #œ œ bœ œ œ œ œ ‰ œ œ 3 3 2 3 12 œ œ œ œ bœ #œ œ œ bœ Œ 3 3 Of the many big-time pros who double on acoustic and electric, John Patitucci is the gold standard. His resume is as broad and extensive as his knowledge is deep. From Chick Corea to the L.A. session scene to Wayne Shorter, few bass players exude the skill, versatility, and positive spirit of a true professional like Patitucci. Interestingly, for someone as wellversed in harmony and its application in jazz and classical music, Patitucci’s clinic primarily focused on rhythm. “Rhythm is essential,” he said. “Most players simply don’t pay as much attention to developing their rhythmic skills as they do theory. But the truth is, nothing else matters comparatively.” Patitucci marked Wayne Shorter cohort Danilo Pérez as a major influence on his own rhythmic 3 5 2 5 9 3 11 12 13 premierguitar.com
  • 109. Double up on a classic. One of T-Rex’s rst effects, the original Alberta overdrive has been embraced by guitarists around the globe. So much so, in fact, that many found themselves using two Albertas in their effects chain - one for creamy rhythm sounds, and the other for piercing solos. Aware of just how valuable pedal board real estate can be, we’ve introduced the Alberta II. This dual-channel powerhouse doubles your tonal range without increasing its physical footprint. Now you can easily swap between your amp’s clean sound, an on-the-edge overdrive from channel 1, and a punchy, wide open rock tone from channel 2. Plus, ip the new “FAT” switch for even thicker tone on either channel. FUEL IT WITH A FUEL TANK t-rex-effects.com
  • 110. TM Stevens, Victor Wooten, and Andy Irvine interact with campers during a meet and greet at the Warwick Bass Camp in Germany. Grammy-winning Panamanian pianist is a master of the syncopated, complex rhythms of Latin America. Said Patitucci, “Before I started to hang with Danilo, I could play Afro-Cuban pretty good, but in my heart, I knew it wasn’t totally happening. He turned me on to really digging into clave and understanding how it works in an ensemble.” “A player needs to have a great feel,” he continued. “To lay down a big wide beat that’s easy to build on, you have to know when to play straight, when to play a swing or triplet feel, and when to play a combination of the two. Ask yourself, can you play in a wide variety of tempos and make them all feel great?” Patitucci went on to describe the woodshed habits that make a player get better. “Transcribe great bass lines from recordings. Use your ears and memorize the lines. Listen to Bach. We also need to develop our ears to respond to harmony quickly, intuitively, and emotionally. Rhythm and harmony influence each other in subtle ways. You can always hear the difference in drummers who respond to the harmonic shifts in the music, as opposed to the ones who play a particular beat no matter what happens around them.” Moving into the harmonic realm, Patitucci stressed the importance of total fretboard awareness. Fig. 1 shows a brief melodic minor exercise he shared with the class. One powerful tip he offered was using triads as a way to avoid the scalar rut. In the case of G 122 PREMIER GUITAR NOVEMBER 2013 melodic minor, for example, instead of playing a scale-based line, consider the tonality as the combination of three triads: G minor, C major, and D major. It’s an excellent way to create more interesting and dynamic lines. Burdened with laying down a good groove, making the changes, and enhancing a tune, bass players often forget to breathe as their brains tackle formidable musical challenges. Victor Wooten Needless to say, living legend Victor Wooten is an adept clinician. Beyond his illustrious playing career, Victor is the brains behind the long-running Bass Nature Camp. His warmth and insight were inspiring; his attitude is always one of the student. “I learn as much from you as you do from me,” he told us. “So take notes, and I’ll do the same.” Accompanied by his scary talented 12-year-old son Adam on cajon, Victor began the clinic with a funky, mid-tempo I-IV groove. Once he set it up, he pointed to students in the room to contribute something to the budding groove. Some immediately locked in; others struggled to find the key; still others played too much or too little. Inciting individuals to play along, Victor would modulate the key without warning, forcing students to use their ears to adapt to the new tonal center. Most students couldn’t quite keep up. The point of this exercise, Victor pointed out, was to underscore the importance of listening. “When you’re in a conversation, what do you do? You listen. Playing is the same as talking. We’re in the rhythm section! Approach it that way. If you play a good groove, there are no wrong notes. There’s only 12 notes, and if you’re comfortable with all of them, why do you need the key? If you can really feel the impact of all 12 notes, and deliver the notes with a good groove, there’s zero percent odds of you playing something wrong. Find the key in yourself! Notes don’t matter if it doesn’t groove.” After this illuminating exercise, Victor wrote his list of the 10 equal parts that make up music: 1. Notes (this includes all of music theory) 2. Rhythm 3. Dynamics 4. Articulation 5. Tone 6. Phrasing 7. Technique 8. Feel 9. Space 10. Listening “Two through 10 add up to groove,” Wooten said in summation. “If they’re right, one can’t be wrong.” Steve Bailey Fretless 6-string bass wizard Steve Bailey is a singular talent. His deeply developed vocabulary on his extraordinarily tricky instrument is unique. As comfortable laying down a fat groove in a funky jam as he is using artificial harmonics and subtle articulation to create lyrical, gorgeous melodies, Bailey is a true innovator. Given his reputation for solo and dual bass (often with longtime collaborator Wooten), Bailey shared a story about the premierguitar.com
  • 111. professional risk of developing a reputation for solo playing. “Early in my career in L.A., I got a call that Steve Vai was looking for a new bass player and wanted me to come down and jam. Excited, I packed up my stuff and headed out to his studio. Steve introduced himself and asked me to play some solo bass. So I went for it, man. I was in the zone. I closed my eyes and did all my good stuff. Really feeling it. I was so excited when I opened my eyes. Only problem was Steve wasn’t there. Worried, I asked someone else in the studio where he went. Apparently he got on his motorcycle and took off about 30 seconds after I closed my eyes and got in ‘the zone.’ The lesson is: Don’t miss the gig. Be careful about how you play, and what you play. Steve Vai wasn’t a solo bass gig.” To Bailey, good bass playing can be boiled down to the four T’s: Time, Tone, Taste, and Technique. “Get that stuff together, and you’re good to go.” Given the sheer size of his fretless 6-string’s wide, unlined fretboard, a lot of students were curious how he developed his intonation. First, he likes to practice with his eyes closed: “Use your ears as the guide.” Then, he offered a great practice routine for developing fretboard awareness and accuracy. Fig. 2 shows the first two bars of “Mary Had a Little Lamb,” first in the most conventional position. The exercise requires playing that same melody, but varying the position of each note across the entire fretboard. Check out the tab for a few examples of how this works, and be sure to apply the concept to other melodies for maximum benefit. Alphonso Johnson The opportunity to hear, hang with, and generally observe the masterful Alphonso Johnson was a personal highlight of the trip. Simply put, Alphonso contributed inimitably funky and tasteful bass to several ensembles and artists who redefined 20th-century music, including Weather Report, Wayne Shorter, and Billy Cobham. Beyond his bulletproof resume, Alphonso is one of the warmest people you’ll ever meet, always ready with a smile and a heartfelt word of support. “Do not forget the root. Without it, we can never issue forth true power.” —Alphonso Johnson He emphasized that bass playing should start with the root, like a tree. A thoughtprovoking handout provided some relevant wisdom: “Everyone wants to be daring, creative, and original. Everyone wants to do things in new ways. But unless we return over and over again to the basics, we will have no chance to truly soar. Do not forget the root. Without it, we can never issue forth true power.” Thoroughly convinced, the class then got Alphonso’s list of tools to embellish our performance: 1. Strong downbeat 2. Syncopation 3. Legato and staccato 4. Call and response 5. Attitude Fig. 2 ?4 œ œ œ œ œ œ œ 4 ¤ 5 œ œ œ œ œ œ 2 5 ? œ œ ¤ 3 0 5 2 5 œ œ œ 5 2 7 2 œ œ 5 œ 0 3 12 œ œ œ 0 10 2 5 10 12 Fig. 3 j 4 bœ nœ ? b4 ¤ 124 PREMIER GUITAR NOVEMBER 2013 J ‰ œ bœ œ œ œ œj œ œ 1 2 5 1 0 3 1 3 5 5 œ 7 œ œ 0 3 10 2 œ 0 10 œ 5 œ 2 7 7 2 œ 5 7 œ 0 b œ ™ b œ œ œ œ œ œ™ ≈ J j œ 1/2 10 3 œ œ œ œ œ œ œ 8 10 8 10 8 10 1 premierguitar.com
  • 112. Photo © Max Crace one guitarist defines vintage tone. one speaker delivers it. “I’m excited that for the first time in many years there’s a new speaker that I love the sound of.” the eminence ej1250. 50 watts of vintage alnico tone for the purist in you. Designed from the past with the future in mind. And made by hand right here in the USA. Watch the demo at http://bit.ly/xmUbxC – Eric Johnson
  • 113. Left: Bassist Stuart Hamm concentrated on teaching his fellow bassists the importance of physical health and breathing. Right: John Patitucci (left) and Jonas Hellborg (right) go to town at the Warwick Bass Camp 2013 in Germany. To demonstrate the potential that each facet on the list can offer, Alphonso flipped on a drum machine and improvised the line in Fig. 3. He divided the room in half and had one side play Bar 1 and the other Bar 2. Slowing down to teach the students who couldn’t quite nail it, Alphonso patiently explained how the line demonstrated each part of the list. It was especially fun when he asked the students to apply some attitude. I got a good glimpse of some international “bass face.” Stuart Hamm Solo bass pioneer Stuart Hamm may be renowned for his sophisticated tap technique and the remarkable selfaccompanied tunes his chord-plusmelody concept enables, but his clinic was really focused on maintaining our physical selves for long, rewarding, and pain-free musical careers. While he did start with a stirring mash-up of the Beatles’ Abbey Road B-side and Beethoven’s “Moonlight Sonata,” he quickly pivoted to tips and techniques to prevent nerve and muscular pain. Most important to Stuart is proper breathing technique. Burdened with laying down a good groove, making the changes, and enhancing a tune, bass players often forget to breathe as their brains tackle formidable musical challenges. One simple but effective exercise he described was playing a simple major scale, inhaling on the way 126 PREMIER GUITAR NOVEMBER 2013 up and exhaling on the way down. Not only does this reinforce the subconscious relationship between the breath and notes, but it also has an undeniably calming, meditative quality. Jonas Hellborg Swedish bass virtuoso Jonas Hellborg is one of the instrument’s great thinkers. His inspired career has seen him anchoring the Mahavishnu Orchestra, partnering with the late, great guitar wiz Shawn Lane, and collaborating with Indian classical musicians in a variety of “What is bass? A guitar? A double bass? A role? Who do you want to be? What do you want to sound like?” “Why do you play music? For me, it’s a necessity. If I don’t, I get physically sick.” “Music is about interacting with human beings. We need input for an ordered output. The brain is a Petri dish.” “Music is an aural endeavor. It all begins with sound. It’s not physical. Our ears are our tools. Think about how you create a sound. You can just play a G. But where on the string? What part of the finger? How do you angle it?” “Music is an aural endeavor. It all begins with sound. It’s not physical. Our ears are our tools. Think about how you create a sound. You can just play a G. But where on the string? What part of the finger? How do you angle it?” —Jonas Hellborg compelling settings. Beyond playing and performance, Hellborg is a self-taught amplifier designer and audio engineer. Hellborg largely designs Warwick’s line of amps and cabinets in his lab at Warwick HQ. Hellborg’s clinic followed a different track than most of the other teachers. He was adamant that the setting was a seminar and discussion, not a performance. Thus he didn’t play. Instead, he initiated a fascinating backand-forth about the fundamental nature of music. It’s hard to summarize, but the following are some of his most salient points: “There is a gravitational relationship between all pitches. Math, sound, and logic. Music is about life. It’s what we experience. Music about music is pointless. You can’t do it without craft. You have to acquire the art of it. You don’t have to work on individuality; we are all mirrors. All the light in the universe is already there.” I wish space allowed a comprehensive report on each and every clinic. Leland Sklar regaled his class with tales from deep in the session trenches, even breaking out a Warwick semi-hollow body for a jam on the Bill Cobham fusion classic, “Stratus.” Meshuggah premierguitar.com
  • 114. All good things must come to an end, and in the case of Warwick’s Bass Camp, it ended in fire and thundering bass lines. bassist Dick Lövgren explained some of the polyrhythmic concepts that lie beneath his band’s über-complex metal. And on and on. Frankly, the camp had such extreme bass talent, it’s going to take months to process and unravel the insights provided. And So It Ends … Camp concluded with a beautiful dinner in Warwick’s pristine auditorium, featuring performances by many of the week’s teachers. After dessert, we all retreated to the balcony to see a stunning fireworks show (with a funky bass soundtrack, of course). As 100 bassists gazed up at the sky in unison, it became clear: This was a special event, and the bass world is better for it. It’s a good thing, then, that Warwick is already committed to next year. Until then, check out Warwick’s YouTube page for tons of video from the event (youtube.com/user/ warwickofficial), and start pinching those pennies. Next year promises to be even bigger and better. Be there, or be square. cme6.com 1-888-686-7872 128 PREMIER GUITAR NOVEMBER 2013 DESIGNED AND MANUFACTURED IN THE USA www.tech21nyc.com premierguitar.com
  • 115. MOD GARAGE How to Wire a Stock Tele Pickup Switch BY DIRK WACKER Fig. 1. The standard practice is to mount an open 3-way Tele switch so its spring faces the edge of the body. N ow that we’ve made friends with the Tele’s 3-way switch [“Inside the 3-way Telecaster Pickup Switch,” October 2012], it’s time to learn how to install it correctly and find out what those lugs really do. From reading countless emails, I know one of the main problems guitarists encounter installing a new switch: How do you orient it on the Telecaster’s metal control plate? It’s easy to get confused because you can rotate the switch 180 degrees and it still fits on the control plate and in the cavity. From an electronic standpoint, the question is irrelevant. The switch is mirrored and will work in either orientation. All you have to do is wire it up carefully and you’re good to go. But in the real world, the standard practice is to mount an open switch so its spring faces the edge of the body, as shown in Fig. 1. There are also open switches that lack this spring. In that case, orient the switch so the metal frame that holds the screws faces the edge of the body (Fig. 2). Closed switches should be mounted with the soldering lugs facing the pots, so all connections come from this direction. Okay, before we go any further, let’s review the terminology we’ll use when discussing a standard CRL/OakGrigsby open switch, as shown in Fig. 3. Notice how the switch has two stages (those are the two “rows”), each with four soldering lugs. Lugs 1, 2, and 3 are the switchable lugs, while lug A is the common lug. For each position on the lever, a lug on each stage is connected to its respective common. Essentially, the Telecaster 3-way switch consists of two 2-way switches on one lever. On a Tele, each of the two pickups uses its own stage to achieve the “both pickups together in parallel” middle position. The bridge pickup’s hot wire is usually connected to stage 1’s common lug, while the neck pickup is connected to stage 2’s common. Fig. 4 shows the complete switching matrix of the 3-way switch and tells you 130 PREMIER GUITAR NOVEMBER 2013 Fig. 1 Essentially, the Telecaster 3-way switch consists of two 2-way switches on one lever. what lugs are connected to each other, depending on the switching position. The standard Tele wiring scheme is shown in Fig. 5. The blue connections are permanent jumper wires. Notice the connection between the #2 lugs of stage 1 and stage 2. This is where the two stages are connected, and it’s the key to engaging both pickups together in parallel in the switch’s middle position. Lug #3 of stage 1 and lug #1 of stage 2 remain untouched on a standard Telecaster. To avoid a short, be sure no other wire accidently touches these lugs. The hot wires of the two pickups are connected to the switch’s two commons—bridge pickup to stage 1 and neck pickup to stage 2. Lug #3 on stage 2 is the output that connects to the volume pot. We’ll revisit the 3-way switch when we take a closer look at the Telecaster 4-way switch—a very special switch. But meanwhile, if you want to drill deeper, I highly recommend getting an open CRL or OakGrigsby switch and a digital multimeter (DMM) with an audible continuity testing function. Connect one testing wire from the DMM to any lug of a stage, flip the switch and see what happens on the other lugs. It’s fun and you can learn a lot from this. Next time, we’ll discuss how to transfer this knowledge to any other 3-way switch. Until then, keep on modding! premierguitar.com
  • 116. Fig. 2 Fig. 3 Fig. 2. Some open switches lack a spring. In that case, orient the switch so the metal frame that holds the screws is facing the edge of the body. Diagram courtesy of Seymour Duncan and used by permission. Fig. 4 Switching Position Fig. 3. A stock 3-way Tele switch has two stages, each with four soldering lugs. Lugs 1, 2, and 3 are the switchable lugs, while lug A is the common lug. For each position on the lever, a lug on each stage is connected to its respective common. Stage 1 Stage 2 1 = Bridge pickup only A+1 1+A 2 = Both pickups together in parallel A+2 2+A Fig. 4. The standard switching matrix for a Tele 3-way switch. 3 = Neck pickup only A+3 3+A Fig. 5. The wiring scheme for a stock Tele 3-way switch Fig. 5 Dirk Wacker lives in Germany where he plays country, rockabilly, and surf music in two bands, works regularly as a session musician for a local studio, and writes for several guitar mags. He’s also a hardcore guitar and amp DIY-er who runs an extensive website on the subject (singlecoil.com). premierguitar.com PREMIER GUITAR NOVEMBER 2013 131
  • 117. aSK AMP MAN Pumping Up an ’80s Fender Champ BY JEFF BOBER Q: During Fender’s early-’80s “Rivera Era,” some models, like this Champ, appeared with a blackface-style faceplate. Warning: All tube amplifiers contain lethal voltages. The most dangerous voltages are stored in electrolytic capacitors, even after the amp has been unplugged from the wall. Before you touch anything inside the amp chassis, it’s imperative that these capacitors are discharged. If you are unsure of this procedure, consult your local amp tech. Hi Jeff, I always scroll to your column to see what you’re up to. I was recently given this Fender Champ. She hasn’t been played for six years and she needs a little TLC. I can’t really say how she sounds, since the original speaker is shot. (The cone has what looks like a puncture from the power chord.) I have a replacement Weber speaker, as well as new JJ tubes and Monster Studio Pro 1000 Speaker Cable to install. I know she’s a small combo, but before I take her into the shop, might you have any upgrades/mods to recommend? I play blues-rock à la SRV. I value your advice! Thanks and rock on. Matt Alcott A: Hi Matt, Thanks for reading, and thanks for your question. My first thought was, there’s not really much to modify in such a simple circuit. But then I came up with a couple of cool, simple mods that should have your Champ sounding like no other. The version of the Fender Champ you own is a bit rare, aesthetically speaking. The original Champ appeared in a tweed version, which was brought into the blackface era around 1964 with a substantially revised circuit. Shortly after CBS bought Fender in 1965, the faceplate was made silver, but the circuit remained unchanged. Then in 1981/82, during Fender’s “Rivera Era,” the Champ faceplate reverted back to black, but again, the circuit was unchanged. This is the model you have. Since this circuit hadn’t been altered since 1964, these simple modifications should pertain to any of the basic 3-knob Champs. You mentioned that you play blues-rock à la Stevie Ray. SRV’s tone was due to a combination of amplifiers, mostly Fenders and Marshalls. I know firsthand, as I had the fortune—or misfortune—of standing in front of his wall of amps during the late ’80s. These two amp brands have significantly different tone signatures, so the first part of this modification will be an attempt to combine their sounds. In your amp’s tone stack you’ll find a 0.1 µF and a 0.047 µF capacitor 132 PREMIER GUITAR NOVEMBER 2013 side-by-side on the board, one leg of each connected to a 100k resistor. Remove the 0.047 µF and replace it with a 600V 0.022 µF capacitor. This will give the amp a bit more midrange (the Marshall trait) while leaving intact the Fender-style highs and lows. The next modification deals with what’s known as the feedback loop. This has nothing to do with guitar feedback—it’s an electrical function that, in this case, keeps the output of the amp as true and clean as possible. But we’re going to change that! Near the center of the circuit board you’ll find a 2.7k resistor (color-coded red, violet, red). One end connects to the speaker output, with the other connecting to the phase-inverter circuit. Remove this resistor and replace it with a 10k resistor. (It can be a 1/2-watt resistor as is stock, though I personally prefer using all 1-watt resistors.) This change lets the amplifier saturate more and produce a nicer overdrive when cranked. The last modification involves the power supply. Towards the mains transformer end of the circuit board are two larger resistors, one positioned above the other. One is a 1k (brown, black, red), and the other is a 10k (brown, black, orange). Remove the 10k and replace it with a 1-watt 2.7k resistor. Decreasing the value of this resistor raises the DC power supply voltage to the first preamp tube, increasing the plate voltage on V1 by approximately 25 volts. This yields a bit Above: The Champ’s interior before applying the mods. Below: Here we’ve replaced three components, giving the amp a hybrid Fender/Marshall sound. less compression and a bit more headroom at the amp’s input, making it sound tighter and punchier. It may also let the amp respond better to pedals. These changes won’t make the amp sound like Stevie’s rig. I just used your reference as a jumping-off point to formulate a few simple changes. A final suggestion: You mentioned that the amp hasn’t been played in six years. I recommend that instead of just powering it up, bring it up slowly using a Variac or similar device so the filter capacitor can be re-formed. This isn’t completely necessary, but it’s nice if you can do it. Then again, you could also just replace the chassis-mounted multi-cap can. Just be ready to break out the big soldering iron for that exercise. Here’s hoping this gives you a Champ among Champs! JEFF BOBER, one of the god- fathers of the low-wattage amp revolution, co-founded and was the principal designer for Budda Amplification. Jeff launched EAST Amplification (eastamplification.com) in 2010, and he can be reached at pgampman@gmail.com. premierguitar.com
  • 118. Creamback Vintage tone for the 21st Century Developed almost 50 years ago, the Celestion Greenback remains an essential ingredient in the blues-rock guitar sound that burst out of the late ’60s. Now comes the Creamback – a contemporary take on the Greenback recipe – all that unmistakable vintage G12M tone and the higher power handling necessary for a 21st Century stage. Find out more www.celestion.com
  • 119. STATE OF THE STOMP Maxon’s Susumu Tamura Retires BY KEVIN BOLEMBACH I n an effort to slow the growing percentage of retired citizens among its population, Japan passed legislation last April raising the mandatory retirement age from 60 to 65. Workers on the cusp who would have retired this year were grandfathered into the earlier age limit, with the caveat that their former employers offer them contract work if desired. What does this have to do with guitar pedals? I’ll explain. In April, Susumu Tamura of Matsumoto, Japan, turned 60 and opted for early retirement from the Nisshin Onpa Company. Readers familiar with Tube Screamer lore may recognize these names as, respectively, the designer and manufacturer of the original OD808 circuit—an OEM project for Ibanez went on to be branded as the TS808 Tube Screamer. That’s right, Susumu Tamura (who did not attend college but studied electronics at Shinshu industrial high school) is the engineer who invented the legendary 808 circuit that’s been used by countless artists and copied by more companies than you can shake a stick at. Mr. Tamura’s retirement holds special significance for me, as I have worked closely with him since 1999 developing many of Maxon’s current guitar effects. I felt it would be a fitting sendoff to interview Mr. Tamura about some highlights of his illustrious career, one that has affected (and effected) literally hundreds of thousands of musicians. How did you become interested in electronics? I liked working on electronics from the time I was a boy. My earliest memory of this was working on a 1/24-scale model of an electric racing car. I made the circuit course for the car when I was still in grade school. When I was a junior high school student, I acquired an amateur radio engineer’s license and used a transceiver that I made to communicate with overseas countries. 134 PREMIER GUITAR NOVEMBER 2013 “We simply had to come up with a pedal to compete with the BOSS OD-1 Overdrive and MXR Distortion+. It was similar to how one record company commercializes a sound, and then other companies follow that trend with similar music.” When did you start working for Nisshin Onpa (Maxon)? I was first hired in 1974. I have worked continuously and exclusively for them for the past 40 years. When and why did Nisshin Onpa begin manufacturing guitar effects? Nisshin Onpa was originally established as an electric guitar pickup company. They initially began manufacturing pedals as OEM projects for other companies and then, from 1971, under their own Maxon brand. What was the first pedal you designed for Nisshin Onpa? My first complete design was the Phase Tone PT999. Before that I had only redesigned PC boards for their booster and wah pedals. What was the concept behind the 808 overdrive? We were looking to make a pedal that was not hard clipping like fuzz or distortion, but more like the overdrive obtained from tube amps. I think we settled on that “boxy” tone, with the midrange emphasized, because it worked well with a wide variety of guitars and guitar amplifiers, including both LP-style and the Stratocaster-type guitars. So the 808’s famous “mid hump” was a conscious effort to make the circuit compatible with a variety of amplifiers and guitars? Yes. By controlling the wild bass volumes of standard fuzz and distortion, as well as the jarring overtones, of the upper register, a more versatile pedal was developed. The 808 circuit was the first of its kind. Did you realize you had created something special? Many journalists have asked us this. From our view, we simply had to come up with a pedal to compete with the BOSS OD-1 Overdrive and MXR Distortion+. It was similar to how one record company commercializes a sound, and then other companies follow that trend with similar music. So the initial product concept was not viewed as “special.” But of course, I wanted a lot of people to love it! Between the promotional sales power of Godlyke and Hoshino and the super-famous musicians who’ve used the pedal, we were able to ship 350,000 units of the various 808 models over the years. Of all the signal processors you designed for Maxon and Ibanez, which project was the most memorable and challenging? We designed a programmable switching system, the PE3248. This was custom-made for Masayoshi Takanaka, a famous Japanese musician. From this came the basic idea for multi-pedal/multi-effect products such as the UE400 and DUE400. I’m also proud of the analog delays that used BBD ICs, such as AD80 and AD9. These originated with the AD230 analog delay series, whose sound is still unparalleled. Another is the DCP (Digitally Controlled Processor) analog programmable effect pedal series, which includes the PDS1. What was superior about the AD230 delay? When it came out there were no highquality, rackmountable, maintenance-free delays using BBDs. Most high-end delays used magnetic tape. The AD230 suppresses premierguitar.com
  • 120. Left: Kevin Bolembach (left) with Maxon’s Susumu Tamura at the 2007 Winter NAMM show. Right: Floor Controller for the Maxon PE3248. Below: This rackmountable junction box for the Maxon PE3248 was custom-built for guitarist Masayoshi Takanaka. jarring upper-register overtones for a very smooth, realistic delay sound. Also, the AD230 was an all-in-one multi-delay unit with modulation and short delay for flanging and chorusing, as well as long delays. Are there any products you’d still like to develop? I hope to redesign the programmable analog effect DCP. It was discontinued, but I’d like to revive those designs. What are your favorite pastimes outside of audio engineering? I enjoy listening to jazz and going to jazz concerts. I do system construction related to personal computers. I enjoy movies, U.S. TV dramas, and documentaries. I also enjoy sea fishing. Any final thoughts? Digital is extremely close to the real thing, but it is not the real thing. The real thing is analog. Digital’s primary advantage is that there is no deterioration in storage and transmission. However, the musician and the audience—the ears, premierguitar.com eyes, mouths, and fingers that make and appreciate music—are all analog. Thanks to Mr. Susumu Tamura for agreeing to this interview and for creating so many useful music-making tools! Kevin bolembach is the president and founder of Godlyke, the U.S. distributor for many well-known boutique effect brands, including Maxon, Guyatone, EMMA, and Providence. PREMIER GUITAR NOVEMBER 2013 135
  • 121. Reviews guild Starfire By Rich Osweiler S ince setting up shop in early 1950s New York City, Guild Guitars has established itself as one of a handful of great, classic American guitar companies. Guild has seen its share of ownership swaps, direction changing, and relocations over the years, but the company has maintained its reputation amongst players as a manufacturer of solid instruments for the working musician. Attracting players from across the genre spectrum, Guild instruments have found go-to-axe status in the hands of luminaries from Mississippi John Hurt to Richie Havens to Kim Thayil, along with just too many others to mention. While probably best known over the years for their acoustics, Guild has given us plenty of electric offerings too. And with the unveiling of the Newark St. Collection earlier this year, FMIC-owned Guild has brought back eight of their classic electric models from the ’50s and ’60s. One of them is the Starfire bass, a 4-string legend that first made its mark as the low-end-providing tool for bands like the Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane, and the Byrds. Here, we take this nextgeneration Starfire for a spin. Crown of Creation Opening up a new instrument’s case for the first time ranks up there pretty high on the scale of life’s pleasures. And popping the top of the Starfire’s deluxe TKL hardshell case didn’t disappoint by any stretch. This is an instrument that just oozes a classic vibe and begs to be held and played. Rosewood thumb rest and tug bar Rosewood string saddles Guild Bi-Sonic pickup 136 PREMIER GUITAR NOVEMBER 2013 premierguitar.com
  • 122. The modern-era, Korean-made Starfire bass almost looks like it was pulled out of a time capsule from 1965—the year Guild first introduced the bass version of their Starfire IV guitar. And like its ’65 inspiration, the Newark St. Starfire is a short-scale (30 3/4"), double-cutaway semi-hollow. The slender 3-piece, U-shaped neck is constructed of mahogany and topped with a rosewood fretboard. Keeping true to its predecessor, the Starfire’s top, back, and sides are all constructed of laminated mahogany. Some of the other appointments that help feed the vintage vibe of the original include the rosewood tug bar and thumb rest, rosewood string saddles, ivory white binding for the neck and body, unbound f-holes, and the unmistakable Chesterfield inlay adorning the headstock. Billed as “handbuilt,” the cherry red Starfire gave every initial indication that care and attention played a part in its construction. I didn’t come across any finish flaws, loose fitting hardware, or other red flags when first looking it over. Powering the Starfire is a single, passive Bi-Sonic pickup that’s located in the bridge position. The pickup configurations of the original Starfire basses varied through the years but this solo Bi-Sonic setup in the bridge is true to the ’65 model. Also like the original, the two black control knobs for tone and volume each have position markers inset in the body next to their sides. The original Starfires were intended to offer up an easy playing neck, and the vintage spec’d, skinny neck of this bass is no different. The fret dress was super clean and the neck felt fast and comfortable as I spent some quality time working the Starfire unplugged. And while doing so, I found this semi-hollow can resonate like there’s no tomorrow. Once I stood up with the Starfire strapped on, it took the expected neck dive that’s typical of a semi-hollow bass. Getting used to the balancing act was a pretty quick process, however, given the Starfire’s light overall weight and short scale. So You Want to be a Rock ’n’ Roll Star I fired up the Starfire by plugging it into a Gallien-Krueger 800RB paired with a TC Electronic RS410 cab. I started out with the amp’s EQ flat to see what I could dial in using just the bass. Not surprisingly with a single passive pickup, the one tone knob didn’t provide much in the way of variation as I rolled it back and forth, so I just ended up leaving it dimed and relied on my amp’s EQ. With a press of the amp’s mid-contour switch, pushing up the treble to about 3 o’clock, and rolling the lo-mid knob down to 10 o’clock, I got to something I liked. And that was a woody, earthy tone with lots of warmth on hand, albeit not much punch. I detected a markedly different response depending on my right-hand placement. For me, the angle and position of the thumb rest felt a little I spent some quality time working the Starfire unplugged, and while doing so, I found this semi-hollow can resonate like there’s no tomorrow. premierguitar.com PREMIER GUITAR NOVEMBER 2013 137
  • 123. Reviews Warm, old-school bass tone is what the Starfire is all about.... Laminated mahogany top, back, and sides cramped when I anchored there, so I naturally gravitated toward my normal resting spot around or on the pickup. The tone was still totally usable here, but forcing myself to ignore muscle memory, I moved back toward the neck and rested on the rosewood bar again. This shift allowed me to pull a much fuller, rounder, and dynamic tone from the strings—so much so that it almost made my pickup-resting position sound thin in comparison. Warm, old-school bass tone is what the Starfire is all about, and it certainly leans towards the lows and mids without a ton of brightness. I suspect this low/ mid emphasis would be even more pronounced with a set of flatwounds, which would probably complement this 4-string nicely. The Verdict With the reintroduction of this storied classic, Guild is no doubt going to make 138 PREMIER GUITAR NOVEMBER 2013 a number of bassists happy—especially those who have dreamed of adding a Starfire to their clan, but couldn’t muster the coin for a vintage model. That said, this bass will still set you back more than a grand. As much as I like the fact that Guild stayed so close to the original Starfire, I found myself thinking about the dual-pickup Starfire II and the benefits of having some more sonic options on hand. The new incarnation of the Starfire bass is a nicely constructed instrument and it’s hard to find much fault with it. It won’t appeal to slap stylists, those looking for super-modern tones, or more aggressive players who might find the dual finger rests a nuisance. (They can be removed.) The Starfire, however, could become a go-to for many players because its rich, warm, mellow tones are more than fitting for R&B, jazz, and of course, rock ’n’ roll. This bass has a little bit of history there. CLICK HERE TO HEAR this bass at premierguitar.com/nov2013 Guild Starfire $1,099 street guildguitars.com Tones Playability Build/Design Value Pros Very true to the classic ’65 Starfire. Solid construction, excellent playability, and high visual appeal. Cons Not a lot of tone-shaping available onboard. Semi-hollows aren’t for everyone. A touch pricey. premierguitar.com
  • 124. The NeW elecTro-harmoNix 8 STep program connects to the expres- sion pedal or control voltage (CV) input of your compatible effects and synthesizers to deliver innovative rhythmic sequencer control. With eight independent sliders, each controlling a sequence step, it can transform an ordinary auto-wah into a step filter, a tremolo into a syncopated pulse effect and a pitch-shifter into an arpeggiator. The Mode control lets you modify the number of steps in a sequence, its depth and its glide rate. Four direction modes – forward, reverse, bounce and random – are selectable on the fly. Set the sequence rate with the Rate slider or Tap Tempo footswitch. Or sync it to a drum machine or DAW via MIDI clock. Six Tap Tempo Divide modes maximize rhythmic diversity. An expression pedal/CV input enables external, real-time control of rate, depth, glide, and sequence length. Save and recall your settings with 10 internal presets, or use the optional Foot Controller (sold separately) and expand your presets to 100. Whether used with your synth or guitar effects, the 8 Step Program’s awe-inspiring sound shaping contol is the prescription for invigorated creativity! * The 8 Step Program is compatible with most devices that accept CV/Expression input. Visit www.ehx.com/products/8-step-program for a list of models.
  • 125. Reviews tausch 665 By Adam Perlmutter G ermany has seen its fair share of great guitar makers, from classical luthiers like Hermann Hauser to Roger Rossmeisl, best known for his unusual designs for Rickenbacker and Fender. Judging by the quality of the 665 model reviewed here you’d suspect Rainer Tausch is making a play to join their ranks. Tausch takes his craft seriously. He makes no more than two electric guitars per month in his workshop, in Illertissen, Germany. And his work as an apprentice violinmaker and professional carpenter—as well as nearly two decades of lutherie— clearly informs his eye for detail. Tausch is also a player, and he fine-tunes his designs based on his own technical requirements, Callaham vibrato with pao ferro sustain block as well as feedback from his growing client base. Not surprisingly, the Tausch 665 feels like a true player’s guitar. Uncommon Details and Top-Notch Construction At a glance, the 665 looks like a pretty conventional twist on the T-style platform. But the guitar is built around some interesting and idiosyncratic features that translate to a very individual sounding and multi-faceted instrument. Though it appears to be a solidbody, it’s actually a semi-hollow guitar built with a solid center block extending the length of the body. The body’s opaque finish obscures an uncommon tonewood, pear, which is similar in tonality to maple but less bright. In these two respects Häussel pickups Set-neck construction Semi-hollow pearwood body 140 PREMIER GUITAR NOVEMBER 2013 premierguitar.com
  • 126. Thanks to the extra string tension provided by the long scale, the guitar sounds and feels great in slackened tunings like dropped D. the Tausch echoes the all-maple bodied, semi-hollow designs by Roger Rossmeisel for Rickenbacker. Set-neck construction distinguishes the Tausch from the many bolt-on T-style guitars out there. But the 26 3/16" scale is a much more profound and important deviation from T-style convention in terms of feel, playability, and tone. On the back of the guitar, the exposed tremolo cavity reveals a tremolo block crafted from pao ferro, which adds a hint of tonal warmth and reduces the guitar’s weight by 7 ounces. Like a lot of retro-leaning electrics over the last few decades, the 665 pays homage to Fender’s ’69 competition-stripe Mustang finishes and Le Mans race cars of the period with a set of white racing stripes on the front and back. The paint scheme is complemented by a selection of black plastic components including the pickup covers, toggle-switch cover, and Gibsonstyle top hat knobs. The silver caps on the knobs nicely accent the nickel bridge and locking Sperzel tuners. Meanwhile, the flamed maple neck (a $500 option) adds a bit of natural elegance to the proceedings. The racing-stripe styling may not sit well with more traditionally minded players and feels a little cheap on such an expensive guitar, but it’s still thoughtfully executed and suits the guitars essentially mid-century informed lines. Craftsmanship on the 665 is impeccable, which frankly, is what you’d expect from an instrument in this very exclusive price range. The bone nut is precisely notched and the 22 jumbo frets are perfectly crowned and dressed. The nitrocellulose finish has a faultlessly uniform matte texture that is extremely comfortable under the forearm. Smorgasbord of Tones Weighing a mere 6 pounds, 9 ounces, the 665 feels light and well balanced. Setup and intonation were perfect— smooth, low action and not a single dead spot anywhere. As a player accustomed to 24 3/4"-scale fretboards, I initially found the 665’s long scale to be disorienting and a bit cumbersome. But though I initially feared that more complex chords that are accessible on shorter necks might not be possible on this guitar, the super smooth action made more acrobatic chords easy. A standard 665 comes with a Kluson tremolo unit, but the review model sported a Callaham system (a $250 option). With its Raw Vintage saddles and pop-in arm, the Callaham bridge is both old-school and modern, and it provides exceptionally smooth performance and tuning stability when the bar is manipulated. Harry Häussel’s pickups may be less well known to stateside players, but they sound fantastic, and fit the Tausch like a glove. The neck and bridge humbuckers are alnico 2 and alnico 5 units respectively. They sandwich a Häussel singlecoil called the ST Blues, which also has alnico 5 magnets. With a coil tap that Locking Sperzel tuners premierguitar.com PREMIER GUITAR NOVEMBER 2013 141
  • 127. Reviews permits nine different pickup configurations, the 665 has an impressively broad tonal palette. Through a simple amp like a Fender Blues Junior, the guitar delivers straightahead rock rhythm work from the tight and slightly aggressive-sounding bridge pickup; warm, rounded woman tone and dark jazz tones from the neck pickup; and snappy, concise funk tones from the middle pickup. With the coil-tapping options, however, it isn’t too difficult to coax the glassy sound of a Stratocaster or the bright twang of a Tele from the bridge pickup. Thanks to the extra string tension provided by the long scale, the guitar sounds and feels great in slackened tunings like dropped D. The guitar’s beautiful resonance and articulate voice also means that chords sound massive and detailed with distortion. No matter what the musical 142 PREMIER GUITAR NOVEMBER 2013 setting, though, the 665 maintains a warm, slightly woody, and sophisticated voice that’s no doubt the sum of the semi-hollow construction, set neck, long scale, and the Häussels. The Verdict Tausch’s 665 is a superlative guitar in all respects. It’s incredibly well built, supremely playable, and possesses a refined voice that can be almost endlessly reshaped by the rangy Haussel pickups and coil-tapping system. With its hefty price tag, the instrument will have a fairly narrow audience. The long scale length may narrow that field further still, despite its many sonic advantages. But players with the means to afford the 665, not to mention a penchant for the unconventional, ought to seriously consider this fine specimen as a vehicle to expand and refine their own playing voice. CLICK HERE TO HEAR this guitar at premierguitar.com/nov2013 Tausch Electric Guitars 665 $5,250 street tausch-guitars.com Tones Playability Build/Design Value Pros Impeccably built. A killer player that covers a lot of sonic territory. Cons Very expensive. Race carinspired cosmetics arguably cheapen an extraordinary guitar. premierguitar.com
  • 128. • YOUR NEXT CLASSIC AMP – THE CARR • CRAFTED AT OUR SHOP IN PITTSBORO, NORTH CAROLINA, we created the IMPALA to capture the power, tone and versatility of a consumate performance and recording amplifier in a hand-wired design that honors the classic blackface amplifiers of the ‘60s. Dual 6L6 power tubes deliver 44 watts of clean power, enhanced with a versatile master volume control for a wide range of clean and dynamic overdriven tones at variable volume levels complementing single coil and humbucking pickups alike, as well as your favorite effects pedals. WE INVITE YOU TO EXPERIENCE THE NEW IMPALA TODAY. Steve Carr • C ARRAMPS.COM 919.545 .0747 •
  • 129. Reviews Tc electronic PolyTune 2 By Teja Gerken D enmark’s TC Electronic has always been inventive. But the company amazed many players in 2010 when it introduced the original PolyTune pedal, the first tuner that allowed guitarists to check all six strings at once. A PolyTune iOS app followed, as well as a smaller pedal, the PolyTune Mini. And now there’s the PolyTune 2, a more accurate and easier-to-read version of the original unit. Brighter LED Familiar Face If you’ve seen the original PolyTune, you know what the PolyTune 2 looks like. Seriously, without viewing the two side-by-side, I wouldn’t have known which is which. But there are significant upgrades under the hood, which I’ll get to in a moment. Strobe setting Drop-D and capo tuning modes Response is extremely fast— it has no problem reading a low A on the baritone, and the display is never difficult to read. The “Poly” in PolyTune refers to the fact that you can check all strings at once. You simply strum the guitar (open, without fretting any notes), and the tuner’s display shows which strings are sharp or flat. It also works in a more standard way: As soon as you pluck an individual string, it changes to chromatic mode, using an LED “needle” to indicate pitch. Like the original, the PolyTune 2 includes a dedicated bass mode, as well as presets for drop-D, transposed tunings, and capo positions up to the fifth fret. Additionally, the PolyTune 2 features a strobetuning function, which could be especially useful for guitar techs needing an ultra-precise tuner for setup work. The new version also has a noticeably brighter display, with a built-in sensor that adjusts brightness to suit current lighting conditions. You can also recalibrate to frequencies other than standard A = 440. You can power the PolyTune 2 with a 9V battery or premierguitar.com PREMIER GUITAR NOVEMBER 2013 145
  • 130. Reviews a power adapter (not included). The unit also has a power output jack that can power additional pedals when the PolyTune 2 is connected to external power. Finally, there’s a USB port for future firmware upgrades. Tuning Up, Out On The Town I received the PolyTune 2 on the afternoon of a club gig, so I popped it onto my pedalboard, juicing it up with a Godlyke Power All. The gig was an acoustic round robin, and since I use lots of alternate tunings, it was a perfect setting to evaluate the unit. My guitars were a Martin OM with an LR Baggs undersaddle pickup, and an Alvarez baritone with a Baggs M-80 pickup. Having used the PolyTune app, I was immediately at home with the new pedal. And I was delighted by how well it works, regardless of guitar type or tuning. Response is extremely fast. It has no problem reading a low A on the baritone, and the display is never difficult to read. Since the gig was in a dark club, I took the tuner outside into bright sunlight the following day, checking it out with a Telecaster. Some tuners are almost unreadable in strong sunlight, but the PolyTune 2’s display looked bright even under these challenging conditions. The Verdict Without a doubt, the TC Electronics PolyTune 2 is one of the today’s best tuner pedals. Are the additional features worth upgrading from an original PolyTune? The answer depends on much you expect to use the strobe function and how much you value extra brightness. But if you’re in the market for a new tuner pedal, it’s worth exploring this excellent alternative to the industry standards— especially if your tuning needs go beyond that same old EADGBE. PROU You might say we’re obsessed. We spent many late nights in our labs forging a collection of the most organic, luscious, and versatile modulation effects we could conjure up. We faithfully captured the warmth and detail of iconic effects from the past five decades, and pushed their boundaries with new sonic possibilities never before heard. Mobius. Rewriting the history books of modulation. strymon.net/mobius 146 PREMIER GUITAR NOVEMBER 2013 TC Electronic PolyTune 2 $99 street tcelectronic.com Ease of Use Build/Design Value Pros Ultra quick, responsive, and easy to read. Cons Battery access screw can be difficult to open with bare fingers. DLY HIGH AMERICAN STANDARDS. LOWER AMERICAN PRICES. The all-American strings that sound better, last longer, and come in your favorite colors, now cost less. Because when it comes to American values, nothing beats Aurora String quality at an even greater sounding price. In red, white, blue, or any other righteous hue. stringsbyaurora.com premierguitar.com
  • 131. Blueridge Guitars...More Bang for the Buck! W hen it’s your instrument that’s holding you back, it’s time for a change. We invite you to stop by your local Blueridge Dealer and have an intimate conversation with the guitar that will bring out the best in you. The secret of tone lies in the details of design, selection of materials and the skilled hand of the craftsman. The result is more bang… period! The Quality and Value Leader! Blueridge BR-160 Guitar • Select, aged, solid Sitka spruce top with traditional herringbone purfling for tone and beauty • Expertly handcarved top braces in authentic, pre-war, forward-X position • Select, solid East Indian rosewood back and sides for deep, rich tone • Carved, low profile, solid mahogany neck and dovetail neck joint for strength and stability BR-160 Dreadnaught To learn more about Saga’s Blueridge Guitars, visit www.sagamusic.com/PG Saga Musical Instruments P.O. Box 2841 • So. San Francisco, California Connect with us on
  • 132. Reviews HAYDEN Mini MoFo By Joe Charupakorn H ayden is a relatively new name in amplifier circles. The company was formed in 2006 in the U.K. as a guitar-centric sister company to Ashdown, a brand known for their bass amps. Hayden didn’t fool around when it came to developing their new line. They recruited Matamp’s chief engineer Dave Green to design their amps and developed two main product lines—a handwired series made in England and a more affordable line of PCB construction amps made in China. This year, Hayden retooled and restyled their amp lineup, including our review amp, the Mini MoFo, a lunchbox-sized head equipped with two EL84 power tubes and one ECC83 preamp tube. Son of a Mother While its biggest sibling, the MoFo 100, offers features like channel switching, reverb, an effects loop, and a recording out, the Mini MoFo takes a bare-bones approach. The front panel consists of controls for gain, EQ (bass, middle, and treble), and master volume. The two “frills” are the studio/stage switch, which engages either 2-watt (studio) or 15-watt (stage) ECC83 Preamp tube Dual EL84 power tubes Switchable between 2 and 15 watts premierguitar.com PREMIER GUITAR NOVEMBER 2013 149
  • 133. Reviews operation, and the EM84 Magic Eye tube—a neon-green light that’s visible through the amp’s vents—that flickers in response to pick attack. Portable, Packs a Punch Apart from the impressively large sounds, portability is the main attraction of the Mini MoFo. It comes with a padded carry case that has a zippered pouch for the power cord and looks similar to an SLR camera case. One minor complaint I have with the case design is that it’s tricky to get the amp out. There’s no handle on top of the amp, so to extract the unit, I had to wedge my hand in the bag and pull the amp out while simultaneously tugging on the underside of the bag. It’s a minor gripe, perhaps, but the process seems bound to wear out the bag prematurely. I had a rehearsal booked in New York City, so I popped two pedals—an Xotic SL Drive and a Boss RV-3—into my gig bag pouch. With just those pedals, my guitar, accessories, and the Mini MoFo, I set out determined to get the biggest tone I could out of one of the smallest and easiest-to-carry rigs I can imagine. The Mini MoFo’s portability proved invaluable before I played a note, because the closest parking spot was about 12 blocks away from the studio. I plugged the Mini MoFo into a no-name cheapo cab, and thought that if the Mini MoFo can sound good through subpar speakers, it could probably handle any backline situation. For the first half of our rehearsal, it was just the drummer and me. With the EQ controls and gain all at noon, volume at 9:30, and mode set to stage, I enjoyed the roar I got from the Mini MoFo so much that I played on without changing a setting for 20 minutes. Even with a limited set of controls, there are a wide variety of sounds on tap. And depending on how I had my guitar volume knob set, I could move from gnarly, Brit-rock vibes to a John Scofieldlike, semi-dirty lead sound. When the rest of the band arrived (another guitarist and a very loud bass player), I feared the Mini MoFo would be 150 PREMIER GUITAR NOVEMBER 2013 in trouble. My fears were soon assuaged when the other guitarist, playing through a Marshall JCM900, asked me to turn down twice. Taming the Filthy Animal In situations where you want the sound of a dirty amp, the Mini MoFo has plenty of horsepower for most live situations. Predictably, it’s harder to get a truly clean sound. But the little Hayden is not entirely without headroom. Turning down the gain and cranking the volume still leaves the amp a little too gritty for jazz or pristine chord work, but for music that can use a bit of bite on strummed open chords, it sounds rich and fat. Cranking the gain left me very impressed. I was able to get a great hard rock sound with a crisp, defined crunch for rhythm and ample sustain for leads. The Mini MoFo might not be the highest-gain amp around, but except for raging metal, it will hold its own for most hard rock. Studio mode cuts the power significantly. But I couldn’t resist the temptation to see how the amp in 2-watt mode would fare in this band situation. I cranked the volume with the gain close to noon, and though the output wasn’t quite as authoritative as what I heard in stage mode, I remained audible in the band mix. Sans Effect Reverb is a bit of a crutch for me, and I like amp reverb because it means one less pedal to bring. But the Mini MoFo sounds so beefy and vibrant that I didn’t feel too exposed without it. And though I engaged the drive and reverb pedals I brought to rehearsal, I ended up using them sparingly. And the best tones I got that day were from the Mini MoFo alone—power tubes cooking. The Verdict Lunchbox amps are a common sight these days. But even given this tough competition, when you shop for a mini tube head, you should include the Mini MoFo in any comparison. If you need a great sounding, simple amp in a super-compact package, the Mini MoFo is a bonafide giant killer. And for players who tend toward rocking, it might just stand tallest among its fellow tiny overachievers. CLICK HERE TO HEAR this amp at premierguitar.com/nov2013 Hayden Mini MoFo $499 street haydenamps.com Tones Ease of Use Build/Design Value Pros Excellent sounds. Super portable. Cons Could use a handle on top. premierguitar.com
  • 134. Reviews spontaneous Audio Devices Son of Kong By Jordan Wagner E ven if you’re a Frank Zappa fan, the name Arthur “Midget” Sloatman might not ring familiar. But for more than a decade, he was the resident studio technician at Zappa’s Utility Muffin Research Kitchen studio. Zappa’s guitars were fitted with Sloatman’s custom parametric EQ and gain circuitry, which gave Frank complete on-board control over filter resonance and feedback. Sloatman eventually built the circuit into a giant enclosure to use in his own band and dubbed it Kong. Sloatman’s Son of Kong is an evolution of the original circuit. It features two studio-quality gain stages with an additional 20 dB of gain, the original Zappa-approved EQ circuit (which effectively works as a third gain stage) and a much more pedalboard-friendly enclosure, plus several other additions that enhance its already impressive versatility. Central Scrutinizer With a sturdy, bent-steel chassis and hand-wired circuit, the Son of Kong is as tough as its name suggests. For increased headroom, the Son of Kong accepts power sources up to a whopping 40V. There’s also a direct XLR DI output jack utilizing a Lundahl transformer so you can run the pedal directly into a mixing console or PA. The Son of Kong has lots of knobs and switches, and it takes some focused exploration to get into all its capabilities. The right footswitch toggles between two channels, each with independent volume controls. The channels are voiced identically, but the first channel has a maximum 15 db volume boost, while the second one cranks out 35 dB of boost. The parametric EQ is also a gain section unto itself and can be used independently with the V1 or V2 set a unity gain. The G knob controls the gain level for a given channel, and the F knob boosts frequencies anywhere from 35 Hz to 5 kHz. You can switch between treble and bass frequency ranges via a small switch under the first channel’s volume knob. Finally, the Q knob sets the width of the selected frequency range anywhere between 1/10th octave and two octaves. You can also boost the volume by 20 dB via a switch located between the volume controls, and switch the EQ in and out of the second channel’s circuit from a switch beneath that channel’s volume knob. Shut Up ‘n’ Play Yer Guitar! Thanks to its super-broad frequency range, the Son of Kong can dramatically re-shape your guitar and bass tones. The Q and F controls are highly interactive, and even the smallest adjustments can squeeze, squelch, or expand your tone. A good starting setting is EQ knobs at noon and volume at unity. This is the pedal’s most neutral setting, though you’ll probably still perceive a bit of boost and extra high-end clarity. With a Fender Stratocaster and a Twin Reverb, the effect is like playing through a clean JFET-style booster. Moving the F knob through its range reveals the control’s impressive sweep and also highlights the voice-like quality of Q control narrows or widens EQ sweep 2-channel design 35 dB boost on channel 2 20 dB boost premierguitar.com PREMIER GUITAR NOVEMBER 2013 153
  • 135. Reviews the circuit. Moving the control back and forth while you play a note produces a cool Tycobrahe-style wah effect. Setting the control past one o’clock fattens tones with a pronounced mid hump. Dropping it below 11 o’clock scoops mids while adding more pronounced treble and bass response. Positioning the frequency range switch to the treble side has the strongest effect with single-coils and low-output PAF-style humbuckers. But for pickups with weaker lows, the bass side of the switch makes the F knob very effective for beefing up the bottom end. The Q control is excellent if you need to focus or sharpen your tone to fit into a mix or arrangement, or to suit a particular amp/guitar combo. But it can also make your tone wider or deeper if that’s what you need. The superenhanced focus from a given EQ range becomes dramatically more pronounced as you dial up more of the pedal’s furious distortion. With the gain control set 154 PREMIER GUITAR NOVEMBER 2013 fairly high, the Q knob move between narrow, Pignose-style honk, Claptonesque dark neck-pickup tones, burly industrial distortion, and fat, hot octave fuzz. More gain is available by kicking the +20 db boost, but the boost is big enough to blow speakers, so be ready to adjust your guitar and amp volume. The Verdict The Son of Kong can hone your guitar tones in ways that transcend amplifier tone controls. It lets you adapt more readily to borrowed backlines and tight, tricky musical arrangements. The busy layout may look scary, but it’s easy to use with a little practice. The Son of Kong often sounds best when using its EQ conservatively, though its extreme ranges will appeal to experimental guitarists. If you’re a player who moves from weird realms to sweeter tones—like Zappa himself—the Son of Kong has the means to get you there. CLICK HERE TO HEAR this pedal at premierguitar.com/nov2013 Spontaneous Audio Devices Son of Kong $495 street spontaneousaudio.com Tones Ease of Use Build/Design Value Pros Rock-solid. Easy to use, given the range of functions. Wide frequency range. Great solution for tricky backlines. Cons Requires careful adjustment to sound its best. Expensive. premierguitar.com
  • 136. Reviews PRS S2 Custom 24 By Jordan Wagner A fter nearly 30 years in the business, Paul Reed Smith has created some undeniably classic guitars. But few are revered as much as the mighty Custom 24, which for many players represents the best of what PRS has to offer. The Custom 24 has been the company’s flagship model since 1985, and has enjoyed enduring popularity throughout its run. Unfortunately the high price has kept the 24 out of the reach of many cash-strapped guitarists. PRS made the new S2 Custom 24 more accessibly priced by doing away with the Core Custom 24’s most labor-intensive features. But it’s still built, assembled, and finished at the company’s Stevensville, Maryland, factory, with the same attention to detail as pricier PRS models. It costs a fraction of the price of a Core Custom 24, yet it dishes tones very much in the same league as the company’s flagship axe. Skin Deep The S2 Custom 24 has a solid mahogany body with an asymmetrically beveled, two-piece flame maple top. The beveling gives the top a sharper, more SG-like profile than the standard Custom 24’s curvy, violin-carved top. The controls sit flat against the body, rather than recessed into it as on the Ceramic-magnet humbuckers Beveled mahogany body Maple top 156 PREMIER GUITAR NOVEMBER 2013 premierguitar.com
  • 137. standard Custom 24. The lovely finish is free of imperfections, and the transparent black poly/acrylic finish of our review model provides a subtly luxurious look. The S2 comes loaded with a pair of newly designed ceramic humbuckers based on the company’s HFS Treble and Vintage Bass models. They can be combined or selected individually from the guitar’s three-way switch, or coiltapped by pulling on the tone control. The guitar’s two-point vibrato is the same one that’s loaded in PRS’s SE guitars. It’s a smooth and stable unit, though not as refined as the vibratos found on the Core guitars. Still, they’re damn close for the price. The three-piece set neck uses PRS’s wide and meaty “pattern regular” profile and is capped by a 24-fret rosewood fretboard. Bird inlays give the guitar an upmarket look, though the solid ivory look isn’t quite as luxurious as the abalone used on PRS’s flagship Custom 24s. But the S2 Custom 24’s neck feels a lot like those used on the upscale models, and it features the same fretwire, dual-action truss rod, gold leaf headstock signature inlay, and self-lubricating, brass-permeated nut. The S2 Series premierguitar.com The bridge pickup really comes alive with a bit of overdrive grit and does a bang-up job of delivering smoky blues lead sounds that jump in the lower midrange. locking tuners seem to hold their tuning just as well as those used on PRS’s leading models. Cousin to a Classic The S2 Custom 24’s stripped-down appointments and streamlined features make it an ideal guitar for budget-minded PRS fans who tend to be a bit hard on their guitars. The guitar’s polyurethane and acrylic-blended finish doesn’t feel as silky as the company’s super-thin V12 finish, but the combination makes the S2 more resilient to sweat, grime, and moisture. The poly/acrylic finish doesn’t seem to harm the guitar’s resonance either. It sounds full and rich even before you plug it in. Through a Mesa/Boogie Dual Rectifier, the ceramic-magnet S2 HFS bridge humbucker produces smooth clean tones, with clear, refined highs and tight, substantial lows. Compared to PRS’s standard HFS Treble pickup, the S2 has a little less midrange presence, and it isn’t quite as sensitive or responsive. There’s also a slightly sharp edge to the pick attack, but that’s easily reigned in by rolling back the tone control slightly. The bridge pickup is more aggressive than the neck’s lower output S2 Vintage Bass pickup, which has a warmer tone across the board and a slightly wider dynamic range. The bridge pickup really comes alive with a bit of overdrive grit and does a bang-up job of delivering smoky blueslead sounds that jump in the lower midrange. Light overdrive tones clean up nicely when rolling back the volume PREMIER GUITAR NOVEMBER 2013 157
  • 138. Reviews knob too, allowing for natural transitions from raw, AC/DC-style grit to more soaring classic rock and blues leads. Switching to the neck position delivers tones with fat, raunchy midrange reminiscent of Brian May’s Jazz-era tones, but with a boomier low-end presence. Coil-tapping enhances the pickup’s already strong lows and highs and brings the pick attack to the forefront for SRVstyle rhythmic blues romps. Regrettably, though, the guitar’s wiring doesn’t permit combining a pickup in normal mode with another in coil-tapped mode. Using both the bridge and neck pickups with the Boogie’s overdriven orange channel delivers the sustain and molten rhythm tones that helped define ’90s hard rock and metal. There’s less detail in the midrange than you’d hear from a Core Custom 24, but the overall tone is thick, punchy, and quiet under extreme amounts of gain. Unfortunately, the lows don’t have the rubbery snap and recoil of PRS’s HFS Treble or exceptional 57/08 pickups, but their depth and spread put the tones squarely in the same ballpark. The Verdict For cash-strapped players longing for the refined tones and exceptional build quality of a true USA-made Custom 24, the S2 Custom 24 is the best option on the market. PRS’s cost-cutting efforts are smart, thoughtful, and probably invisible to casual observers. There’s little loss of tone quality—this guitar sounds like a PRS. While it might not have the super-silky feel or vibrant looks of a true Custom 24, the quality lives up to what you’d expect from a Maryland-built PRS, and is far beyond what you’ll find in most imitators. CLICK HERE TO HEAR this guitar at premierguitar.com/nov2013 PRS S2 Custom 24 $1,399 street prsguitars.com Tones Ease of Use Build/Design Value Pros Great resonance. Resilient finish. Modern Custom 24 tones at a fraction of the price. Cons Finish not as smooth as PRS’s V12 finish. Bridge pickup lacks a bit of the response and character of higherpriced models. Making tomorrow’s History Today wdmusic.com/premierguitar 158 PREMIER GUITAR NOVEMBER 2013 premierguitar.com
  • 139. Patently Obvious There’s no mistaking the obvious value at Guitarfetish! Only Guitarfetish.com offers the most unique brands in the music biz... Sold “Warehouse Direct” at Wholesale Pricing... with the widest variety of cool vintage, modern and cutting edge gear anywhere. While we are famous the world over for our USA Designed GFS® brand guitar pickups, offering simply the most tone for the dollar.... Guitarfetish.com is fast becoming the go-to place for guitars, hardware and accessories. Xaviere Guitars offer premium hardwoods, genuine GFS® Pickups, exquisite finishes and are only sold warehouse direct, at wholesale prices. Checkout our demo videos at http://www.youtube.com/GuitarfetishTV. Our Xtrem Vibrato system offers a modern solution to flabby vintage top mount vibratos, and are protected by a US Patent. Better sustain, better tone, better tuning stability and are a fraction of the price of many vintage vibratos. We make style to fit most hollowbody, semi-hollowbody and solidbody guitars, in chrome, nickel, gold and black. XV-500 XV560 ® Xtrem® LT XV-570 Xtrem® FT Xtrem® TM ® Xaviere® Guitars Our XV-500. XV-560 and XV-570 Set Neck guitars with premium woods and GFS® pickups Starting at $209. Xtrem® Vintage Style Vibrato System Our Patented Vibrato System with improved Sustain, Tone and Tuning Stability Starting at $45. You can search the web or retail stores across the globe only to discover what tens of thousands of guitar players do every year...Nobody beats Guitarfetish.com GFS® Pickups , Xtrem® Vibratos and Xaviere® Guitars are sold exclusively online by www.Guitarfetish.com
  • 140. REVIEWS TONECONCEPTS The Distillery By Joe Gore N els Cline dubbed ToneConcepts’ powerful new overdrive/preamp the Distillery, but he could just as easily have called it the Laboratory, the Beauty Parlor, or the Operating Room. In fact, the Canadian pedal company could have named the device for any location where exquisitely precise repairs and modifications are performed. According to ToneConcepts, the Distillery was created for gigging guitarists seeking a transparent boost that won’t degrade their core sound, but with enough tone-sculpting power to compensate for bland backline amps. It excels at that task—and many others. Players with good ears will be able to summon new tones from their guitars using the pedal’s uncommonly powerful EQ tools. IC What You Did There! Inside the Distillery are two separate circuits, each activated by a footswitch. Workmanship is solid, with a tidy circuit board positioned perpendicularly to the enclosure via boardmounted pots. One side of the Distillery is a bright, musical-sounding booster with three controls: boost (output), guts (gain), and bleed (a passive treble-cut). The IC-based overdrive color is a bit Klon-like, with pristine cleans at low gain settings and throaty drive at higher ones. It’s a potentially bright circuit, but the bleed control is perfectly voiced for, say, smoothing the ragged edge of a Strat bridge pickup, or conversely, adding extra bite to a dark humbucker. With 20dB of clean boost, there’s plenty of oomph to overdrive an amp, even at modest guts settings. If that was all the Distillery did, the pedal would merit consideration as a simple but effective booster. But there’s more. Qs You Can Use The fun starts when you activate the second circuit, a filter/EQ with adjustable contour (frequency) and edge (resonance). These controls let you sculpt those all-important mids, clarifying thick sounds or bulking up thin ones. (Maybe they should have called it The Gym, or perhaps The Liposuction Clinic.) If you’ve ever been frustrated by overdrives with conventional passive tone controls that can only chop highs, you’ll probably be thrilled here. (Note that while you can use the booster without engaging the EQ section, you can’t use the EQ without the boost.) I love how the Distillery performs with a vintage-style Les Paul. Modest gain settings add mass without compromising note Two ways to fine-tune high-end response. Dual circuits: booster and resonant filter. premierguitar.com PREMIER GUITAR NOVEMBER 2013 161
  • 141. REVIEWS attack. There’s none of the compressed, nasal character you sometimes encounter from Screamer-based circuits. Compelling colors emerged throughout the range of the filter controls, especially the ones with an edgy, almost Strat-like bite. You can truly tweak a humbucker’s character here. With so many bright sounds on tap, you might suspect the Distillery would be a poor match for guitars with single-coil pickups. Fear not—the complementary voicing of the edge and bleed controls lets you dial in aggressively edgy Strat tones while rounding off painfully glassy highs. Here too you can add mass without compromising note attack. Transients crack like knuckles. Filter At Your Own Risk I was able to get cool tones from every guitar I plugged into the Distillery. But make no mistake: This pedal can be blisteringly bright. For that reason, I’d be more inclined to recommend it to experienced players accustomed 162 PREMIER GUITAR NOVEMBER 2013 to wrangling EQ than to neophyte tone-seekers. Despite its range, the Distillery doesn’t really do “freaky.” You won’t get the extreme whistling and rumbling sounds available from some other stompboxes that pair overdrive and a resonant filter, such as the vintage Systech Harmonic Energizer and the modern boutique pedals it inspired. The Distillery is more about refining tones than redefining them. It’s a scalpel, not a sledgehammer. The Verdict The Distillery is a powerful and sophisticated tone-sculpting tool. Chances are it will help you draw new shadings from your guitar, nudging tones in various directions as the musical setting demands. It’s a great resource for recording guitarists who must often shape tones to fit into a mix, or for players hoping to differentiate their tones within a multi-guitar band. Best of all, it won’t downgrade the sound of a great guitar/amp pairing. CLICK HERE TO HEAR this pedal at premierguitar.com/nov2013 ToneConcepts The Distillery $179 street toneconcepts.com Tones Ease of Use Build/Design Value PROS A powerful tone-shaping tool. Excellent clean boost. Many cool tones. CONS Powerful enough to get you into trouble if you don’t know what you’re doing. Doesn’t do extreme/freaky filtering. premierguitar.com
  • 142. Reviews devilcat Jimmy By Matthew Holliman V ersatility is a favorable attribute for most guitar gear. Don’t get me wrong. I love one-trick ponies. They’re easy to use and you get what you expect. But these days, the union of function and flexibility is the ideal for most working musicians. Devilcat Amplifier’s 2-channel, 6L6 powered, 50-watt Jimmy deftly walks the line between those two worlds. Boasting master volume, spring reverb, and an onboard boost, the Jimmy is a truly versatile amp that feels familiar, yet can run from polite to nasty and get you through diverse musical situations. Clean channel Dirt switch 164 PREMIER GUITAR NOVEMBER 2013 Armor-Clad Soldier Our review Jimmy arrived dressed in black Taurus vinyl. (You can also order green, white python, and Western-themed vinyl.) For a 1x12 combo, this thing is heavy, and I had to labor to remove the amp from its shipping shell. Reading the product description, I understood why: The Jimmy is built like a fortress with an all-maple plywood cabinet and a galvanized steel chassis. As an added measure against wear and tear, the front panel is powder coated. The Jimmy is definitely built for real-world use. Overdrive channel Spring reverb Master volume premierguitar.com
  • 143. Fitted with five 12AX7s, a 12AT7 phase inverter, and two 6L6s, the Jimmy is distinctly American in character and construction, and Devilcat put a lot of effort into using as many U.S.-made components as possible. The single Italian Jensen Falcon speaker (future versions will ship with a Celestion Vintage 30) and Slovakian JJ tubes are the only major components made abroad. The clean channel has a 3-band EQ and a volume knob. A master volume, located on the far right of the front panel, controls both channels and can be pulled out to engage a bright switch. Switching to the overdrive channel (using either the provided footswitch or a faceplate-mounted toggle) enables the gain knob. And even at zero, there’s a lot of saturation on tap. Other features include an effects loop on the rear panel, external speaker jacks (8 or 16 Ω), a long-tank spring reverb, and a dirt switch. You can engage the The overdrive channel delivers vintage-style voicings at lower gain settings, but takes on a modern character once the gain knob creeps towards noon. latter via toggle, or with the second button on the footswitch. It uses the preamp of the active channel and is the only part of the circuit that employs a diode. Dirt generates a mid boost and has separate gain and volume knobs. At first, the relative multitude of chickenhead knobs may cause recoil among minimalists. But if you break things down, it’s a pretty simple, even classic control set—just a couple of channels and a dirt control that’s almost like having a simple onboard stompbox. Because the Jimmy is a combo and the controls are mounted on the front, it can be hard to make fast adjustments if the amp sits on the floor. So popping it up on a chair or amp stand not only gets you better stage projection, but improved control access. Reporting for Duty With a Gibson Les Paul, the Jimmy’s clean channel sounds crisp and defined. Pairing the 6L6 circuit with an open-back cab creates a snappy Fender-like presence, and humbuckers will easily find traction for syncopated rhythm parts—John Fogerty’s bopping-and-dancing right hand work on “Bad Moon Rising,” for example. In clean mode, the Jimmy is vocal, full of range, and Dual-6L6 power section 12" Jensen Falcon premierguitar.com PREMIER GUITAR NOVEMBER 2013 165
  • 144. Reviews punchy and tight in the low end. Pulling out the master volume for the bright function delivers a very complementary, cutting high-mid presence. This pull-bright control is useful if you’re forced to turn down on stage, and it also makes the Jimmy very adaptable to chimey riffage. The overdrive channel delivers vintagestyle voicings at lower gain settings, but takes on a modern character once the gain knob creeps towards noon. With spoonfuls of gain on tap, the Jimmy strays from the realm of traditional Fender overdrive and becomes much more crunchy and British. At these higher-gain settings, the open-backed combo can’t quite deliver the heavy chunk you need for metal. But you’d be surprised at how close you can get by matching the amp with a closed-back cab via the external jack. Players more interested in these sounds should consider the head-only version of the Jimmy. If you elect to make use of the dirt effect—and you should if you dig heavy sounds—you’ll likely be able to remove a boost or OD pedal from your stage rig. And if you’ve set up the overdrive channel for a low-to-mild drive, you can almost use dirt as a third channel. It feels almost like a separate gain stage and there’s a detectable increase in compression that significantly changes the amp’s character and interactivity. Engaging dirt also adds a midrange spike that’s useful for leads. Considering how sonically hot the Jimmy can get, it’s worth noting the amp’s quiet disposition. Comparatively speaking, higher gain settings don’t suffer from white noise pollution. You’ll hear some buzz, but nothing that will dissuade you from running your guitar wide open. two, and probably the Jimmy’s strength. But the Jimmy has brawn to spare and character to go with the muscle, which adds up to true versatility. CLICK HERE TO HEAR this amp at premierguitar.com/nov2013 Devilcat Amplifiers Jimmy $1,299 street devilcatamps.com Tones Ease of Use The Verdict Ultimately, the Jimmy is a solid workhorse for the touring or gigging musician. And if you’re a player who works across multiple genres, this combo can deliver. It’s exceptionally pedal friendly and the effects loop is great for post-gain pedals. The clean channel is the stronger of the Build/Design Value Pros Straightforward control setup. Plenty of useful features. Cons Heavy for a 1x12 combo. What’s Your Instrument Really Worth? Gruhn Guitars offers an easy to use online appraisal service. When you need more than a range of values, get a fast, accurate appraisal from the best in the business. Visit guitars.com for up to date inventory and photos. Appraisal requests can also be sent by postal mail – Include front and back photos, serial number and description of instrument with $50 appraisal fee. gruhn.com /appraisals guitars.com 2120 8th Ave. S.Nashville,Tennessee 37204 Phone 615.256.2033 Fax 615.255.2021 Email gruhn@gruhn.com 166 PREMIER GUITAR NOVEMBER 2013 premierguitar.com
  • 145. Hammond_LesliePedal_PremierGuitaPage 1 8/19/2013 8:33:36 AM C M Y CM MY CY CMY K premierguitar.com PREMIER GUITAR NOVEMBER 2013 167
  • 146. Reviews ns design CR5 Radius By Steve Cook T he ’80s were an interesting time for instrument builders because many players were trading in their Les Pauls and Strats for shiny new Charvels and Kramers. It seemed the more radical the instrument shape, the more it was revered. And it was in 1980 that a young Ned Steinberger introduced a wildly different bass design to the world. His L-series instruments were groundbreaking with their minimal footprint, headless neck, and a tuning assembly located behind the bridge. The L-series design was the first major overhaul for the electric bass since 1951. Not surprisingly, bassists embraced Steinberger’s new instruments, including notables like Bill Wyman and Geddy Lee. Fast-forward to 2013 and NS Design’s introduction of the headless CR5 Radius 5-string bass. This Czechoslovakian-made instrument is the production version of Steinberger’s innovative U.S.-built Radius bass, which made its debut about a year ago. The dimensions are the same as the U.S. model and engineered to Ned Steinberger’s exacting standards, but this new production model comes with a more approachable price tag. NS Design bridge-mounted piezo pickups NS Design tuning system 3-way piezo EQ switch 168 PREMIER GUITAR NOVEMBER 2013 Dual EMG magnetic pickups Diradial body design premierguitar.com
  • 147. Czech This Out The test model arrived in a form-fitting gig bag, and from first sight (and weight), it identified itself as an easy carry-on companion for a traveling bassist. After unzipping the snug, nylon cocoon, I was greeted with a beautiful instrument that’s slightly reminiscent of a Kubicki Factor 4 bass, but with a more graceful aesthetic. My tester was finished in a lovely charcoal satin, but the Radius is also available in amber or natural. Steinberger has once again pushed the boundaries of interesting features while at the same time enhancing a bassist’s overall comfort and interaction with an instrument. The CR5 Radius bass is an engineering feat: It’s a blend of elegant form and practical purpose, with an array of dizzyingly meticulous details. The top of the chambered-maple body, for example, has a tighter radius than the back. This “Diradial” design enables a more comfortable right-hand position on top and enhanced hugging of the torso, thanks to the convex back. A big selling point of the CR5 Radius is the tuning system. Having the tuners behind the bridge really does provide a more natural and subtle feel for on-thefly tuning. At the other end of the bass, premierguitar.com The CR5 Radius bass is an engineering feat: It’s a blend of elegant form and practical purpose, with an array of dizzyingly meticulous details. an aluminum head plate anchors the ball end of the strings atop the carbonreinforced maple neck. Gone are the days of needing double ball-end strings for a headless bass. The CR5 Radius will accept any standard-scale strings and the hollow cavity on the back makes string changes a breeze. The CR5 Radius is outfitted with a pair of EMG magnetic pickups, as well as a bridge-mounted NS Design Polar piezo system. The 18V preamp is designed to give the bass a lot of headroom and sonic range. The preamp’s control set includes a pair of 3-way mini toggles: one for pickup selection and the other for the piezo’s EQ settings. Four control knobs are onboard to take care of pickup balance, master volume, bass boost/cut, and treble boost/cut. Headless and Loving It Out of the gate, the ergonomically designed CR5 Radius felt very nice under my fingers. The ebony fretboard is fast and even, and I didn’t find a single dead spot all the way to the 24th fret. The bridge spacing is 18 mm, which also felt comfortable and even. The radius of the bass (hence the name) gives the instrument a slight angle towards the player, making the fretboard easy to see. An oversized horn and deep cutaway help provide balance and I didn’t experience any neck dive whatsoever. Unplugged, the notes were true with power and sustain, and harmonics were fluid and effortless. I had the opportunity to put the bass through its paces from two extreme sides of the spectrum—both my bedroom amp (a Warwick CCL combo) and an arena PA with my signal path coming from an Avalon U5. The bass performed beautifully in both situations. The articulation and throaty sound of having only the piezo engaged really impressed me. Using the treble setting of the piezo’s EQ, an PREMIER GUITAR NOVEMBER 2013 169
  • 148. Reviews acoustic-like instrument came to life and I immediately imagined that the available fretless version of this bass would have some serious growl. When I switched to the bass-boost setting for the piezo, the tone the CR5 Radius produced sounded nothing like the piezo-only settings of other basses I’ve played with this kind of setup. It was intense and rich, as opposed to pointed and bright. This dazzling pickup setting could have handled the arena gig on its own. The modern tones took over when I switched to the EMGs. My aggressive 5th string riffs that were clear and concise in the bedroom were simply gut-shaking in the arena setting. The 5th string is super-tight and responsive, and chords and double stops were even and equally responsive. I found the bridge pickup to be a little too nasal on its own for everyday use, as I moved between it and the neck pickup for tonal contrast. It might be a useable option, however, for a solo section or for a run that requires a bit more articulation. I ultimately settled on the warmest setting, which was an equal blend of the two EMGs. And when I added the piezo into this mix, I was again greeted with some gorgeous, midrange growl. CLICK HERE TO HEAR this bass at premierguitar.com/nov2013 The Verdict I like this bass. At roughly $2,700, the price isn’t astronomically high, but it’s still high enough that the CR5 Radius is probably going to appeal to a more select crowd. The Radius could definitely handle a meat-and-potatoes-type existence, but playing it in a smoky bar night after night might almost be like driving the Lotus for your runs to Home Depot instead of the truck. This bass is for the player that demands more than a mass-produced, slab-bodied mule. And with its slew of modern appointments and level of quality, the CR5 Radius is an instrument that is able to bridge the gap somewhat between Ned Steinberger’s custom shop and an everyday bass. If you find one in a nearby store, you may not put it down. Great Gear Giveaways from NS Design CR5 Radius $2,700 street thinkns.com Tones Playability Build/Design Value Pros Ridiculously well made and engineered. Resembles a work of art. You can still keep your headstock tuner. Cons Somewhat pricey. & ENTER FOR YOUR CHANCE TO WIN ALL FIVE NEW MINIFOOGERS! (MF Trem, MF Ring, MF Drive, MF Delay, MF Boost - Total Prize Package Value: $895) Minifoogers • 100% Analog • True bypass • Low noise • No negative impact on your guitar tone • Dedicated expression input • Easy to use – incredibly deep 170 PREMIER GUITAR NOVEMBER 2013 Enter at premierguitar.com/contests Sweepstakes void where prohibited. Read full rules on premierguitar.com. premierguitar.com
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  • 150. It’s not the size of the dog in the fight it’s the size of the fight in the dog IRONBALL Prepare to be stunned by the new Engl E606 Ironball. This 20-watt brute delivers huge punch in a compact package. Two channels of ferocious all-tube tone (2 x EL 84 power amp, 4 x ECC 83 preamp), with switchable power settings: 20w, 5w, 1w and speaker off. The Ironball handles everything from classic clean to garage growl to modern metal. Plug in and you’ll immediately yearn to unleash the beast. VELVET DISTRIBUTION info@velvetdistribution.com engl-amps.com
  • 151. Reviews bearfoot Model G By Joe Gore I t’s easy to understand the appeal of “amp in a box” guitar pedals—who wouldn’t want to evoke the sound of a tweed, plexi, or top-boost for the price of a stompbox? These days the pedal landscape is littered with faux Fenders, Marshall, and Voxes. So how cool of BearFoot Guitar Effects to create the Model G—a stompbox designed to conjure the underappreciated Gibson combo amps of the 1960s. Authentically Fake You can emulate an amp via digital or analog means. BearFoot’s amp pedals go the latter route. Like the company’s Suproinspired Honeybee OD and the Marshall-esque Dyna Red, the Model G replicates the circuit of the amp it models via a FET-based tone-shaping stage, plus a Screamer-like gain stage to simulate preamp distortion. Any amp in pedal form begs an obvious question: If the pedal imposes amp-like coloration, aren’t you undercutting the effect by running it into a real amp, which imposes its own coloration? Well, yes. But in practice, players either pair pedals of this type with clean, relatively neutral-sounding amps, or use the pedals as quirky, colorful overdrives. Either way, the Model G evokes the flavor of a funky little Gibson combo, if not the exact tones. It’s a loose, vibey sort of distortion, well suited to bluesy roots-rock and scrappy indie sounds. Regulates both highs and lows. Compresses slightly and adds sparkle. Strictly Handmade The Model G is strictly handmade. Inside the hand-painted “B”-sized enclosure is a tidily soldered circuit board. Only the connecting wires secure it to the enclosure, though it’s insulated with a strip of stretchy fabric. The results look home-brewed, but reliable. You can power the pedal with a 9V battery or a conventional barrel-type adapter. The drive and master volume controls are straightforward. And it’s a reasonably loud circuit whose higher settings provide a virile solo boost. The core overdrive sound is a bit Screamer-like, but with a brighter, less compressed character. There are many attractive tones throughout the drive control’s range. Mother Nature and the Deep Mysterious “C” Most of the Model G’s character resides in the controls labeled N (for “nature”) and C. (BearFoot doesn’t say what C stands for, though we could easily call it “compression,” since that’s premierguitar.com The Model G is extremely dynamic. Even at maximum gain setting it’s easy to summon crispy-clean tones by rolling back the guitar’s volume. PREMIER GUITAR NOVEMBER 2013 173
  • 152. Reviews one of the things it controls.) The amps that inspired the Model G tend to have one-knob tone controls, but that’s not quite how things work here. The N knob yields progressively crisper tones as you turn it clockwise, with a heavy low boost in the fully counter-clockwise position. Meanwhile, advancing the C knob compresses the signal slightly while adding highs to compensate for the squeeze. The arrangement can seem counterintuitive at first. Bass-heavy sounds produce more distortion, so the Model G tends to sound biggest with N at its minimum setting. But it’s easy to get used to the arrangement—just use N to dial in the desired amount of lows, and then finetune C till the highs feel complimentary. Those highs may require a little finessing. Like many old Gibson amps, the Model G checks in on the bright side. You may encounter harsh, brittle tones, even with humbuckers, let alone singlecoils. Maximum bass settings approach the fatness of a good Fuzz Face, but without 174 PREMIER GUITAR NOVEMBER 2013 the corresponding treble attenuation. Still, I finessed nice tones from the bright bridge pickup of a pre-CBS Stratocaster through a Divided by 13 CJ11 (a Fender-inspired combo, also on the bright side). Meanwhile, that extra bite did nice things to the vintage-style PAFs in an old Les Paul. Regardless of pedal settings or pickup type, the Model G is extremely dynamic. Even at maximum gain setting it’s easy to summon crispy-clean tones by rolling back the guitar’s volume. The Verdict Players with a taste for primitive distortion will dig this vibey, ampinspired overdrive—especially if they favor bright, articulate tones. There’s no shortage of lows, though—the Model G would shine in a rough-and-tumble guitar/drum duo. It would be especially appropriate for a guitarist using a modern, relatively neutral-sounding amp, but who sometimes craves an injection of pawnshop punkitude. CLICK HERE TO HEAR this pedal at premierguitar.com/nov2013 BearFoot Guitar Effects Model G $223 street bearfootfx.com Tones Ease of Use Build/Design Value Pros Vibey overdrive with a ’60s attitude. Extremely dynamic. Many sonic variations. Cons Tones can be excessively bright with some guitars and amps. premierguitar.com
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  • 154. media reviews Pearl Jam Lightning Bolt The Pearl Jam collective has always fared well in songwriting. Singer/ rhythm guitarist Eddie Vedder at his best is a modern-rock poet, faithful leader to one of the more successful bands to come out of the grunge era and keep making music. It’s been almost five years since Backspacer, and in a special documentary to launch the new album, bassist Jeff Ament explains why: “It’s good to wait until we feel like we do have something to say.” In the interim, Vedder branched out into solo ventures, and it appears that Pearl Jam is better for it: Lightning Bolt is the band’s most focused record in more than a decade. The inspired double-time rocker “Mind Your Manners” brings a familiar energy, and a few other tunes share that signature mid-tempo Pearl Jam mojo that flannel and combat boot dreams are made of. But what’s really special is that, while PJ has produced quite a few mediocre songs over the last decade, here there are more than a half-dozen tracks that could be breakout hits. The guitar work shows experimental growth, too. The epic “Infallible” builds not with typical PJ mystique, but with an edgier, more modern feel. Guitarists Mike McCready and Stone Gossard have fun with reverb and vibrato, giving a country/ rockabilly vibe to “Let the Records Play.” From stern, soaring solos to shimmering delay, shrieking whammy-bar action, and gentle strumming—these pros cover a lot of ground on an album that jumps around stylistically but keeps a string attached to the heart of the classic PJ identity. The album’s closer, “Future Days,” has just the right combination of piano, acoustic guitars, and violin to contrast with more sobering material on the record. It’s carried by sentiments of hope, the silver lining that keeps us all striving to see beauty despite ourselves. It cuts like a bolt of lightning. —Tessa Jeffers Must-hear tracks: “Pendulum,” “Yellow Moon” Melvins Tres Cabrones On Tres Cabrones—the 19th studio album from Melvins—the band returns to their old-school punk roots. They also essentially revisit their 1983 configuration: Buzz Osborne on guitar, Dale Crover on bass, and Matt Dillard on drums. Though not the original lineup, it’s “as close as we’re willing to get,” says Osborne. The three raw opening tracks hark back to the band’s Gluey Porch Treatments, with a bit of quirky pop added to the mix. Osborne’s gritted-teeth riffs lurch over Crover’s excellent bass work, and the guitarist’s penchant for sinewy, lo-fi leads works especially well on the album’s slower numbers. The hilarious covers of “Tie My Pecker to a Tree” and “99 Bottles of Beer” offer a brief reprieve from the album’s dirgelike sound. At times, Cabrones feels more rigid than the band’s previous work, but it still has plenty of the headbanging riffs and trademark tongue-in-cheek humor that make Melvins unique. Another strong album from a band that’s still kicking hard after 30 years. —Jordan Wagner Must-hear track: “Stick ’Em up Bitch” Black Label Society Unblackened There are two sides to Zakk Wylde: the mad, swaggering Viking shredder and the sensitive crooner who isn’t afraid to sit at the piano and put his heart on his sleeve. On Unblackened, Wylde’s latest live album with Black Label Society, he works to blend these Jekyll & Hyde sensibilities while expanding his sound with new textures. The seated front line (Wylde, plus bassist John DeServio and “evil twin” guitarist Nick Catanese) is a bit unusual for a BLS show, but whatever the band lacks in Slayer-like headbanging they make up for with ample musicianship. “Losing Your Mind,” Wylde’s first single from 1994’s Pride and Glory, reveals just how much groove is in his criminally underrated rhythm playing. On “Takillya (Estyabon),” Wylde even pays homage to Al Di Meola with burning nylon-string runs. This is the sound of a shredder shedding labels and following his muse. —Jason Shadrick Must-hear track: “The Blessed Hellride” 176 PREMIER GUITAR NOVEMBER 2013 premierguitar.com
  • 155. Red Fang Whales and Leeches If Red Fang’s Whales and Leeches is proof of anything, it’s that the Portland quartet has grown well beyond its modern-sludge-meets-ZZTop roots. The blistering opening track, “DOEN,” kicks in with a rampaging, Sabbath-style stomp, ebbing and flowing with off-kilter riffs provided by bassist Aaron Beam and guitarists Bryan Giles and David Sullivan. Listening to such anthemic grinders as “Blood and Cream,” “No Hope,” and “The Animal,” you realize just how much effort these musicians have put into focusing their sound without sacrificing the abrasive textures and fuzzed-out melodies that defined their previous work. The monstrously heavy main riff of “Dawn Rising” demonstrates the tight interplay and sense of groove that Giles, Sullivan, and Beam share. Clearly they understand how you play a riff is just as important as what notes are in it. This has always been the biggest strength of Red Fang’s songwriting, but on Whales and Leeches it has become second nature. —Jordan Wagner Must-hear track: “Blood and Cream” Arthur Channel Arthur Channel Recorded after rookie singer/guitarist Jon Greene sent a three-song demo to former Chili Peppers and Pearl Jam drummer Jack Irons and Wallflowers bassist Greg Richling, Arthur Channel is replete with tremulous verses, soaring choruses, ambient guitars, and dashes of discord. Richling produced the effort, but guitarist Alain Johannes’ sonic fingerprints abound. Tapped by Queens of the Stone Age and others for his 6-string prowess as much as his multi-instrumental abilities, Johannes here employs his je ne sais quoi with timbres and tonalities—everything from nylon-string fingerpicking to fuzzy Jazzmaster riffs and lilting echoes—to imbue the songs with a vibe that’s at once sweetly mesmerizing and ghostly. Session veteran Lyle Workman’s leads (like the swirling, Holdsworth-for-the-masses solo on “Vapor”) are the perfect foil, too. More dynamic tempos and a little more attitude here and there couldn’t hurt, but Irons and Richling wisely let Greene’s catchy songs, somber-yet-hopeful lyrics, and rich voice— think Incubus’ Brandon Boyd meets Remy Zero’s Cinjun Tate—carry the album. This is what your local stations should be playing. —Shawn Hammond Must-hear tracks: “Thirst of the Universe,” “New Life” premierguitar.com PREMIER GUITAR NOVEMBER 2013 177
  • 156. staff picks Guitarless Every so often you gotta go the other way, change the pace. Guitarist David Bromberg joins Premier Guitar editors (and a lucky reader of the month) in discussing our favorite music—sans guitar. David Bromberg Guest Picker What are you listening to? Right now I’m listening to some Bill Frisell records including Gone, Just Like a Train. I’m also listening to Doug MacLeod’s DUBB, Allen Toussaint’s The Bright Mississippi, Tracy Nelson’s Four Blues Broads, and Larry Campbell’s Rooftops. What is your favorite non-guitar music or album? Early Staple Singers (i.e. The Best of the Staple Singers on Vee-Jay) and Ray Charles on Atlantic and his Modern Sounds in Country and Western on the label he went to after Atlantic. John Bohlinger Rich Osweiler Charles Saufley Jason Shadrick Reader of the Month Nashville Correspondent Associate Editor Gear Editor Associate Editor What are you listening to? Buddy Guy Rhythm & Blues, NRBQ (with Al Anderson and Tommy Ardolino), and three songs I’ve been mixing over and over and something’s just not right. What is your favorite non-guitar music or album? Diana Krall is always a welcome change of pace. But if she doesn’t count, (guitar’s in the combo y’know), Louis Armstrong is the man. I met him when I was in 4th grade (yeah, I know, I’m old) and he’s probably the first reason I decided to play music! What are you listening to? Chris Whitley’s Living with the Law. A 22-year-old album (cut in Daniel Lanois’ house) that sounds better than amazing. What is your favorite non-guitar music or album? My all-time favorite non-guitar album: Cheech and Chong’s first album featuring “Dave.” Regrettably, it’s not as funny as I remember. What are you listening to? Under the Covers, Vol. 3. Susanna Hoffs and Matthew Sweet take on a mix of predominantly college-radio tunes from the ’80s, the same decade these two guitarists saw some of their biggest success. What is your favorite non-guitar music or album? I’m a jazz fiend and there’s a ton of it that doesn’t have a lick of guitar. I suppose the Dave Brubeck Quartet’s Time Out probably qualifies as my all-time fave since I’ve listened to it a thousand times. Gamelan music gets honorable mention here. What are you listening to? The re-issue of White Fence’s four-track barrage White Fence, Magik Markers tune-laden Surrender to the Fantasy, the exuberant filth of CCR Headcleaner’s Lace the Earth … , and Mike Donovan’s mostly acoustic Wot. What is your favorite non-guitar music or album? Raga is my first love, but I also dig ’70s ambient synth jams, John Cale and Spacemen 3’s organ drones, the ecstatic jazz of Impulse-era Coltrane, Pharoah Sanders, Eddie Gale, and the ESP and Actuel label combos. What are you listening to? I’ve started delving into the groovier side of the Grateful Dead. From the synthy intro on “Shakedown Street” to the laid-back saunter of “West L.A. Fadeaway,” I’m beginning to think their rhythm section was criminally underrated. What is your favorite non-guitar music or album? There’s a soft spot in my heart for classical vocal music— thanks to my wife— and anything by Renée Fleming gets my vote. Above: David Bromberg Photo by Jim McGuire Larry Antinozzi Check out our Facebook page at facebook.com/premierguitar to comment on our question of the month for your chance to be our featured Reader of the Month in Premier Guitar. 178 PREMIER GUITAR NOVEMBER 2013 premierguitar.com
  • 157. pretty snazzy! snazzy! 12/24/1947 John D’Angelico 629 Forest Ave. • Staten Island, NY 10310 718-981-8585 • mandolin@mandoweb.com WWW. mandoweb. com premierguitar.com PREMIER GUITAR NOVEMBER 2013 179
  • 158. “I’ve gotten more compliments on my tone with the Baby Blues than since I started playing! I can’t believe how good it sounds. I take it to a gig when I don’t know what rig will be there and the Baby Blues always comes through with THE sound! The Baby Blues is just amazing!” “The Boiling Point doesn’t feel like a pedal.  It plays like a great amp, breathing and reacting. It possesses musical mojo of the highest order. The most incredible piece of gear I have purchased in nearly 36 years of playing.” “Well, Light My Fire! The Brown Sugar just kills it! I think I just found a new box of tricks for my lead and crunch tones. This pedal is insane! Everything from full-on 70’s lead tones to amazing squeal and sputter!” “The Red Dog has a wonderful warmth with a huge bottom end! The sound is direct, very natural, with lots of air and a very spacious feel. When I use it with the Boiling Point, the guitar sound is incredible.” NEW! SMALLER CASE • SILENT SWITCHING • LOWER PRICE SAME SIGNATURE SOUND • MADE IN CALIFORNIA, USA LEARN MORE AT WWW.ROCKBOX.COM • 408-279-9400 • VISIT US AT WINTER NAMM BOOTH 5690 HALL B Apps Get everything that’s in the print magazine...and more. premierguitar.com/apps iPad | iPhone | Android | Kindle Fire iPad, iPhone, & iPod Touch are trademarks of Apple Inc., registered in the U.S. and other countries. App Store is a service mark of Apple, Inc. Android is a trademark of Google Inc. 180 PREMIER GUITAR NOVEMBER 2013 premierguitar.com
  • 159. CHANGE IT • CRANK IT • SHRED IT www.bourns.com/proaudio The Trenton 6 or 16 Watts Cathode Biased 2 Voices (’50s and ‘60s) Hand Wired Tone Machines. valvetrainamps.com • 407.886.7656 • sales@valvetrainamps.com 182 PREMIER GUITAR NOVEMBER 2013 premierguitar.com
  • 160. The New G&L Savannah Collection ASAT Bass ASAT Junior II Exotic African Korina tops and ultra-light semi-hollow African Okoume bodies for airy clarity and superb articulation. ASAT Deluxe II ASAT Classic Bluesboy 90 Pickups designed by Paul Gagon, Leo Fender and Seymour Duncan for harmonic richness. Pao Ferro fingerboards with Plek-dressed frets for unsurpassed playability. ASAT Classic Bluesboy G&L’s Old School Tobacco Sunburst finish to capture the rare beauty of the African Savannah. The Savannah Collection might be the most beautiful and distinctly toneful G&L Custom Creation ever. Go There. ® glguitars.com
  • 161. Great Gear Giveaways from & Enter for your chance to WIN a Gibson J-35 Acoustic Electric Enter at premierguitar.com/contests Sweepstakes void where prohibited. Read full rules on premierguitar.com. www.OSIAMO.com 184 PREMIER GUITAR NOVEMBER 2013 premierguitar.com
  • 162. Subscribe to today! SUBSCRIBE ONLINE TODAY & SAVE 71% OFF NEWSSTAND! Analog Spring Reverbs PLUS print subscribers get FREE access to the PG app! Every issue of Premier Guitar comes loaded with tons of juicy gear content including: • The best gear reviews • Gear mods and how-to tips from the pros • Artist profiles and detailed info on their rigs • Features on builders, designers, and luthiers • AND MORE! SUBSCRIBE TODAY @ premierguitar.com/subscribe premierguitar.com They’re Real and They’re Spectacular! Cop a Feel for yourself at vanamps.com/demos info@vanamps.com 763-529-1206 PREMIER GUITAR NOVEMBER 2013 185
  • 163. ENTER FOR YOUR CHANCE TO WIN THE EXCALIBUR SPECIAL 7! Enter at premierguitar.com/contests Sweepstakes void where prohibited. Read full rules on premierguitar.com. 186 PREMIER GUITAR NOVEMBER 2013 premierguitar.com
  • 164. Chicago’s Destination For The Finest Guitars and Amps Gibson Fender Paul Reed Smith Rickenbacker New Orleans Warwick Martin Taylor Eden Victoria Marshall Parker Join Our Online Mailing List Buy-Sell Trade-Broker Consignments Welcome Since 1974 NapervilleMusic.com 1-888-355-1404 We called them Soapbars… You said they were the best P-90s you’ve ever played – O.K. YOU WIN www.jbepickups.com 703-530-TONE (8663) MADE IN THE U.S.A. Removable and Playable For more info visit us at GUITDOORBELL.COM (916) 441-6555 dave@guitarworkshoponline.com premierguitar.com PREMIER GUITAR NOVEMBER 2013 187
  • 165. Next Month in Gear of the Year, Pierre Bensusan, and Chicago’s History in Guitars It’s time for our annual retrospective on the music-making machines that rocked our world in 2013. We catch up with fingerstyle master and DADGAD pioneer Pierre Bensusan to hear about his new three-disc career retrospective, and also hear gear confessions from the Melvins and Deap Vally. Plus, don’t miss our special feature on Chicago’s rich lutherie history, told through one lucky hoarder’s massive collection of Windy City-built axes. New Gear While giving a nod to the year’s best, we’re forging ahead as usual with our regular gear reviews. (Too many toys, too little time.) For December, we’re looking at the new Severn Trembuck from Knaggs, the latest Squier Telecaster, and a Worland acoustic. Pedal junkies can sink their feet onto the Daredevil Atomic Cock, Acid Age Acid Pig, T-Rex Magnus, and the Eventide H9, while our bass gurus give us the low down on the PRS Grainger and a Traynor SB115. We’re also scoping out another amp or two, but you don’t need to know everything, do you? Statement of Ownership, Management, and Circulation (Requester Publications Only) 1. Publication Title: Premier Guitar 2. Publication Number: 1945-077X 3. Filling Date: 09-30-13 4. Issue Frequency: Monthly 5. Number of Issues Published Annually: 12 6. Annual Subscription Price: $24.95 7. Complete Mailing Address of Known Office of Publication: 3 Research Center Marion, IA 52302-5868. Contact Person: Patti Sprague. Telephone: 319-447-5550. 8. Complete Mailing Address of Headquarters of General Business Office of Publisher: 3 Research Center Marion, IA 52302-5868. 9. Full Names and Complete Mailing Addresses of Publisher, Editor and Managing Editor: Publisher: Jon Levy, 3 Research Center Marion, IA 52302-5868. Editor in Chief: Shawn Hammond, 3 Research Center Marion, IA 52302-5868. 10. Owner: Gearhead Communications LLC, 3 Research Center Marion, IA 52302-5868. Premier Media Holdings, LLC, 3 Research Center Marion, IA 52302-5868. 11. Known Bondholders, Mortgage and Other Security Holdings Owning or Holding 1 Percent or More of Total Amount of Bonds, Mortgages or Other Securities: None. 12. Tax Status (For completion by nonprofit organizations authorized to mail at nonprofit rates). The purpose, function, and nonprofit status of this organization and the exempt status for federal income tax purpos es: Not Applicable 13. Publication Title: Premier Guitar 14. Issue Date for Circulation Data Below: 10-1-13 15. Extent and Nature of Circulation: Monthly Average No. Copies Each Issue During Preceding 12 Months No. Copies of Single Issue Published Nearest to Filing Date 15a. Total Number of Copies (Net Press Run): ..................................................................................... 21,928 .................................. 19,973 15b. Legitimate Paid and/or Requested Distribution (By Mail and Outside the Mail): (1) Outside County Paid/Requested Mail Subscriptions stated on PS Form 3541. (Include direct written request from recipient, telemarketing, and Internet requests from recipient, paid subscriptions including nominal rate subscriptions, employer requests, advertiser’s proof copies, and exchange copies.) ................................................. 10,992 .................................. 10,409 (2) In-County Paid/Requested Mail Subscriptions stated on PS Form 3541. (Include direct written request from recipient, telemarketing, and Internet requests from recipient, paid subscriptions including nominal rate subscriptions, employer requests, advertiser’s proof copies, and exchange copies.) .............................................................. 0 .............................................. 0 (3) Sales Through Dealers and Carriers, Street Vendors, Counter Sales, and Other Paid or Requested Distribution Outside USPS® ..................................................... 9,996 ..................................... 9,071 (4) Requested Copies Distributed by Other Mail Classes Through the USPS (e.g., First-Class Mail®) ................................................................................................ 0 ............................................... 0 15c. 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Nonrequested Distribution (By Mail and Outside the Mail): (1) Outside County Nonrequested Copies Stated on PS Form 3541 (include Sample copies, Requests Over 3 years old, Requests induced by a Premium, Bulk Sales and Requests including Association Requests, Names obtained from Business Directories, Lists, and other sources) ...................................................................................................................................... 0 .............................................. 0 (2) In-County Nonrequested Copies Stated on PS Form 3541 (include Sample copies, Requests Over 3 years old, Requests induced by a Premium, Bulk Sales and Requests including Association Requests, Names obtained from Business Directories, Lists, and other sources) ...................................................................................................................................... 0 .............................................. 0 (3) Nonrequested Copies Distributed Through the USPS by Other Classes of Mail (e.g., First-Class Mail, Nonrequestor Copies mailed in excess of 10% Limit mailed at Standard Mail® or Package Services Rates) .................................................................................................................. 0 .............................................. 0 (4) Nonrequested Copies Distributed Outside the Mail (Include Pickup Stands, Trade Shows, Showrooms, and Other Sources)) ................................................................ 940 ........................................ 493 15e. Total Nonrequested Distribution (Sum of 15d (1), (2), (3) and (4)) ................................................................................................................ 940 ......................................... 493 15f. Total Distribution (Sum of 15c and15e) ......................................................................................... 21,928 ................................. 19,973 15g. Copies not Distributed ............................................................................................................................. 4,424 ..................................... 4,430 15h. Total (Sum of 15f and g) ........................................................................................................................ 17,504 .................................. 15,543 15i. Percent Paid and/or Requested Circulation (15c divided by 15f times 100) ............................................................................................................... 95% ...................................... 97% 16. Total circulation includes electronic copies. Report circulation on PS Form 3526-X worksheet. PS Form 3526-R worksheet. (a) Requested and Paid Electronic Copies.................................................................................... 105,654 .............................. 115,660 (b) Total Requested and Paid Print Copies (Line 15c) + Requested/Paid Electronic Copies........................................................................ 126,642 ............................... 135,140 (c) Total Requested Copy Distribution (Line 15F) + Requested/Paid Electronic Copies........................................................................ 127,582 ................................ 135,633 (d) Percent Paid and/or Requested Circulation (Both Print & Electronic Copies)................................................................................................................ 99% ...................................... 99% I certify that 50% of all my distributed copies (Electronic & Print) are legitimate requests. 17. Publication of State of Ownership: If the publication is a general publication, publication of this statement is required. Will be printed in the November 2013 issue of this publication. 18. Signature and Title of Editor, Publisher, Business Manager, or Owner: Patti Sprague, Date: 09/30/13 I certify that all information furnished on this form is true and complete. I Understand that anyone who furnishes false or misleading information on this form or who omits material or information requested on the form may be subject to criminal sanctions (including fines and imprisonment) and/or civil sanctions (including civil penalties). Premier Guitar ISSN 1945-077x (print) and ISSN 1945-0788 (online) is published monthly by Gearhead Communications, LLC. Principal office: 3 Research Center, Marion, IA 52302. Periodicals postage paid at Marion, IA 52302 and at Additional Mailing Offices. © 2013 Gearhead Communications, LLC. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part without written permission is prohibited. Premier Guitar are registered trademarks of Gearhead Communications, LLC. Subscribers: If the Postal Service alerts us that your magazine is undeliverable, we have no further obligation unless we receive a corrected address. U.S. Subscriptions: $24.95 for one year. Call for Canada, Mexico and foreign subscription rates. Postmaster: Send address changes to Premier Guitar, 3 Research Center, Marion, IA 52302. Customer Service and subscriptions please call 877-704-4327 or email lois@premierguitar.com. Printed in USA. Volume 18 Issue 11 November 2013 188 PREMIER GUITAR NOVEMBER 2013 premierguitar.com
  • 166. esoterica electrica The Guitar as Cultural Icon BY jol dantzig This cheap, ’60s-era Harmony may not be worth much, but many a guitarist might argue that in the right hands, it could deliver a more interesting story than today’s most technically advanced gadgetry. W hat is the essence of the guitar? Why is it arguably the most popular musical instrument of all time? The fact that you are reading these words is testament to the guitar’s ubiquitous reach. It pervades our daily world and informs our experience. As the cowboys drove their herds north along the Chisholm Trail, the guitar was there. When African slaves toiled in American cotton fields, they sang their stories accompanied by a 6-string. During the Dust Bowl, displaced families passed time plucking and migrant workers rode the rails to the strum of the guitar, using it as a weapon of survival. Woody Guthrie—a famous transient himself— wrote and performed powerful activist protestations that helped build trade unions, and were echoed decades later at the sit-ins and folk festivals of the 1960s. “The guitar really gave me an identity,” explains guitarist Matt Beck, the son of two classical musicians. “It gave me a personality that was different from the classical instruments my parents had.” Beck saw the line in the sand as a call to arms that allowed him to carry on the family business in his own image. Today, Beck spends his time playing on Broadway shows like Rent and Spiderman, and performing with Matchbox 20, a gig he’s held down for over a decade. He sees the guitar’s flexibility as its greatest asset, and his career underlines that as well. As for his take on the guitar’s place 190 PREMIER GUITAR NOVEMBER 2013 in history, Beck says, “I definitely see the guitar in the American experience as a centerpiece—it’s the folk instrument of our country.” Echoing that sentiment is guitarist and collector Errol Antzis. He remembers hearing guitarist Michael Schenker holding a single feedback-drenched note during the intro of a UFO song. “Wow, what is that sound?” he recalls thinking. “That’s when I decided to start playing guitar.” For Antzis, it was a defining moment: The piano lessons got ditched and it was 6-strings from that day on. Antzis spent years gigging professionally before switching gears and going back to school. Although he carved out a career in finance and publishing, he’s never stopped making music. Today, his dazzling collection of instruments is enviable, and his musical talent has allowed him to record with some of his guitar heroes. “I don’t have a problem,” he says of his vast guitar holdings, “I have a passion.” For those musicians and many other young people, the Anglo version of American blues and R&B that dominated the album charts and radio waves spurred them to pick up and play guitar. For others, it led to a desire to build. For renowned builder Ken Parker, listening to the Ventures inspired him to construct a guitar out of cardboard as a child, but it was the Fab Four that really knocked him out. “The Beatles inoculated America with American music,” says Parker. “Their take on R&B lit up the whole world and it went crazy on guitars.” Parker’s infatuation for the sound and song of the guitar has manifested itself in a lifelong career building instruments. Reinterpreting and morphing the guitar’s form has been his calling card, similar to the way rockers of the late 20th Century distorted and bent their music. Reflecting his own first encounters with guitar music, Parker strives to bring the joy of discovery to others. “An instrument can give you goose bumps,” he explains. “I’m trying to create something that makes you not watch TV, but go to the guitar case instead.” Reflecting on the guitar’s enduring ability to speak for new generations, amp builder and restorer Blackie Pagano points out that, “When you look at a Fender Stratocaster, which was designed in the 1950s, it still looks modern.” For young artists, it may also be a connection to the past. By strapping on a guitar— and thus donning an iconic musical costume—they can conjure up some vintage mojo. Pagano sees the guitar’s innate ability to channel the performer’s personality as its strength. “In the end, it’s what you can get out of it, and I’ve seen guys do amazing things with stuff you’d pull out of the trash.” When pressed to explain why the guitar remains popular today, even with tech-savvy young artists, Pagano says with a laugh, “Even the junk of yesterday is more interesting to use than today’s best technology.” So is it flexibility or rebellion that keeps the guitar close to our hearts? I’d wager that it’s both these things and more. Unlike horns and woodwinds, you can sing while playing, and it’s easier to learn (and carry) than a piano. We hold the guitar to our bodies like a lover and caress the strings. In our hands, it communicates our most intimate feelings and stories. In the end, even though it wasn’t invented here, the guitar is the most American of musical instruments. From the cowboys to the latest bands gracing the festival stages, the guitar has created our nation’s greatest export—American music. jol dantzig is a noted designer, builder, and player who co-founded Hamer Guitars, one of the first boutique guitar brands, in 1973. Today, as the director of Dantzig Guitar Design, he continues to help define the art of custom guitar. To learn more, visit guitardesigner.com. premierguitar.com
  • 167. JAMUP THE BEST GUITAR APP ON THE PLANET Positive Grid JamUp Pro XT The most advanced, best sounding, best feeling guitar and bass multi-effects processor app on the planet. * 86 Amp & Effect Models * 5,000 presets on ToneSharing Platform * Phrase Sampler * 8-Track Recorder System * iTunes® Jam Player * Live-View, Metronome, Tuner, MIDI & more Proudly designed by For more information for our full line of guitar and music products, visit us at www.positivegrid.com Positive Grid®
  • 168. LAST CALL Someday You’ll Regret That Relic Job BY JOHN BOHLINGER C ystal Bowersox poses with her Takamine for the cover of her album, All That for This. The Takamine, which couldn’t be much more than 10 years old, looks like a chunk of driftwood washed up on a beach. I’ve seen barns abandoned for 70 years that have more paint on their front than that guitar. My friend Randy Owen had a 12-string version of this Takamine. After years of touring, it spent four days underwater in a storage locker during The Great Nashville Flood a few years ago. Although the guitar’s neck fell off and most of the seams separated, its bulletproof poly finish looked showroom fresh. So Crystal, although you want to give the impression you literally played the paint off your guitar during countless, passion-filled hours spent honing your craft, that’s just not possible. You could not have put in more hours on that guitar than Willie Nelson has on his old Martin. A battle-worn acoustic like Willie’s “Trigger” has sincerity about it—as if every scar represents emotions and sweat pounded into it. There’s the irony: People who go to the trouble of giving their guitar a relic job want to appear genuine by faking authenticity. Hypocrite that I am, I own two relic instruments—a Tele and a bass. Both play and sound great, but I feel like a poser when I’m using them. Truth is, you can tell mo-faux from the real deal 99.9 percent of the time. Here are the tells. Most new guitars have a poly finish. Most old guitars have a nitrocellulose finish. Poly does not wear like nitro. Nitro is delicate, prone to cracking, chipping, fading, and wearing away. Poly is durable—forever young and shiny. Those who relic also give themselves away because they go too far. They’re not satisfied with a normal 50 years worth of wear. They want their guitars to look like Keith Richards himself personally played 50 years worth of gigs on it. Compare Bowersox’s newish Tak to the 1946 Martin D-18 adjacent to it. Although we’ve logged a few hundred 192 PREMIER GUITAR NOVEMBER 2013 Relic or Real? Clockwise from top left: An “old” Takamine, 1946 Martin D-18, 1967 Fender Tele, 2007 PRS. hours together, I treat this D-18 with the concerned care you’d give a baby. The previous owner may not have been as careful, but through 67 years of playing, my guitar still looks relatively new compared to Crystal’s Tak. And that’s in spite of my D-18’s delicate nitro finish. Look at my 1967 Tele—a true player’s guitar. Its former owner put in tens of thousands of hours on it, installed an early B-bender in the ’70s, and added a brass nut and brass saddles. In spite of the age and play, the 46-year-old nitro finish shows only very light wear. Check out my PRS. This poor thing has been knocked over and nearly crushed when a light truss landed on it during a world tour. The nitro finish has a few dings, but considering the abuse, it looks played, not artificially aged. Guitars are like the Velveteen Rabbit: If the owner truly loves them and plays them enough, they will come to life. If you want your guitar to look played, play it so much that it seldom sees the inside of a case. Maybe you’ll find your 4-year-old son joyfully beating it with a drumstick. You’ll be pissed, but eventually you’ll laugh it off. Perhaps one sweaty, lonely August night the neck will feel sticky and you’ll impulsively sand it down to the wood. Somebody will spill beer on it, blow smoke on it, airlines will do their best to destroy it, and hundreds of hours of music will vibrate through it. All of this will make your guitar an honest-to-God relic—a historical artifact of your musical journey. You can’t fake that. John Bohlinger is a Nashville multi-instrumentalist. He’s been the Musical Director for the CMT Music Awards for the past five years, led the band for all six seasons of NBC’s hit program Nashville Star, and has worked on many specials for GAC, PBS, CMT, USA, and HDTV. premierguitar.com
  • 169. Awesomeness has a new address! Stop by our brand new NYC showroom. Visit our newly re-launched website Gtrstore.com. New showroom: 141 West 28th Street, 4th Floor, New York, NY 10001 Call us at: 646•460•8472 Email us at: info@gtrstore.com New website: GTRSTORE.COM NOT JUST A GUITAR STORE Guitars • Basses • Amplifiers • Effects • Drums • Keyboards • Sound • Lighting • Accessories

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