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Monday, February 20, 2017

Guitar Rainbow


Are you a partisan of the one best guitar color or is variety the spice of life?

Surf Green
Seafoam Green
Lucerne Aqua Firemist
Turquoise
Cherry Red
Desert Sunburst
Sahara Burst
Natural Mahogany
Lemondrop






Sunday, February 19, 2017

Infinite Ego Flavor of the Month Gear Page

What's rocking my world today?

Guitar: The Music Man John Petrucci JP15 for shred and any of my PRS guitars for rock, etc.

Amp / Effects: Fractal Audio Systems Axe-FxIIXL+

Picks: Dunlop Jazz II 2.0mm Ultex (black)

Strings: direct from Mapes or EB Cobalts; pure nickels from Pyramid




The First Guitar With Stainless Steel Frets

Was it the Parker Fly? Was it the Chapman Stick? 

No, it was was a guitar re-fretted by Harry Partch in the early 1940s.

I found this info in an article by John Schneider in an issue of GuitArt.

If you know of an earlier example, let me know over at our forum (link on the right).

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

EBMM JP15 Ernie Ball Music Man John Petrucci Signature JP15 Guitar

The EBMM JP15 -- I'm surprised I like it.

There were very few reasons for me to take a chance on this guitar:

* I don't like Dream Theater
* Petrucci is a good guitarist but Prog metal is not my thing
* Plus, JP seems like total knob
* I think EBMM guitars generally look weird
* The JP15 looks weird
* I don't like the headstock (but I've seen worse)
* I don't like the 4+2 tuner arrangement
* I don't like thin wide necks
* I don't like active electronics
* I generally do not like DiMarzio pickups
* I do not need or necessarily want a piezo transducer
* 'African mahogany' is cheap wood used for cost-cutting purposes
* The maple top is really thin and not as impressive as those found on PRSi of similar price
* The JP15 is overpriced by at least $500 (You're making a JP car payment).
* The neck inlay and position markers are cheesy



That's a hell of a lot of reasons not to buy a guitar. Yet, for some reason I suspected that the JP15 would actually work for my intended purpose: a replacement for my current 'shred machine' -- a Suhr Modern Satin that has gotten on my nerves.

What the JP15 has going for it is:

+ A vulcanized (roasted) maple neck that is less susceptible to changes in humidity (no fret sprout)
+ Oil and wax neck finish (smooth and fast beyond your wildest dreams)
+ The correct neck geometry for what I was going for (not too wide)
+ 24 frets you can actually use -- upper access is really exceptional
+ Medium jumbo stainless steel frets
+ Despite being a DiMarzio product, the Illuminator pickups sound fantastic
+ Like the Suhr, the JP has pickups mounted directly in the body rather than floating on mounts
+ Tuning is stable and avoids the inconvenience of a double-locking system like the Floyd
+ The guitar weighs 7 pounds even (one of the benefits of the cheap 'African mahogany' body)
+ Built-in onboard variable boost (I don't like to use distortion pedals so this is great)
+ I dig the cool reverse approach to pull pots -- these are buttons you push rather than pull up



After one hour of playing this thing it was obvious that the the JP15 was absolutely, hands-down the fastest guitar I've every played. It is the closest thing to effortless playing I've experienced in 35 years of doing this.

Here's a quirky 30 second clip of me just chimping around at 95bpm on the neck pickup. It's ridiculously easy to just fly around on in complete freedom from one end of the neck to the other.  [More review and photos after the audio sample]



I was banking on the neck to be a slightly modified (deeper) Wizard carve and that's pretty much what it is. Once you get accustomed to the neck and the upper fret access of the JP15 you're going to not like your other guitars much. The only guitars of mine that are not collecting dust are my Artist grade PRSi and a Hiland model that is very easy to fly around on. But not like this.

I might as well sell all the others since they all feel like clunky relics from another design era. Seriously, the JP15 makes most other guitars feel stupid. Even the Suhr Modern feels clunky compared to this.

Intonation on this guitar, due to the compensated nut, is better than what you're going to find on the majority of guitars out there. Even distorted 7th chords sound good (to me).



The guitar is not perfect, however.

-- Using EB Cobalt strings the nut slot on the 3rd string is not quite wide enough so you get a little ping or snag when bending the string -- but it does not seem to effect the return of the string to pitch. Likewise, when using the whammy bar a couple of strings creak on the nut as if they are binding a bit. This did not happen with the strings it came with.

The guitar ships with regular EB Slinky strings (10s) and you'd think that a set of EB Cobalt 10s would be the exact same size as the Slinkys but a few years ago I spent over $300 on a string shootout and found that there were all kinds of minor variations across and within brands. A lot of firms switched from Mapes wire years ago and began sourcing it from China for their affordable strings. So the more expensive stuff might be a bit beefier than the cheap strings that go on at the factory. When I put cheap DiAddario strings on it the problem went away.

I'm not one to use the vibrato bridge much but I always like the sound of floating bridges on bolt-on neck guitars compared to hardtails. The nut slots are a minor annoyance rather than a performance problem but EB says that the customer is not the QC department. Yet, I'll have to correct this oversight eventually or just switch back to the cheap strings permanently.

-- The trim pots on the back of the guitar should be adjustable through the adjustment holes on the back panel but the holes do not line up with the pots at all so I'll have to take that off to make any changes. Pretty dumb. Again, this should have been caught before it left the factory.

-- It takes longer to tune this guitar than all my others; not sure why. But it stays in tune well.

Overall, this guitar is brilliant. It plays better than any other guitar I've ever experienced and it sounds terrific.













Friday, February 10, 2017

John Petrucci and Trump: Something to Consider When Your Guitar Hero Goes Rogue

So, John Petrucci came out in support of Donald Trump -- along the lines of "He's great ... something, something, something, ... give him a chance. I like him."

         

Now you lose your mind, light your hair on fire, and throw your Dream Theater albums in the nearest dumpster.

While I detest Trump and I only ever had one Dream Theater CD (it was a free gift that I threw it out my car window in a parking lot ... sorry for littering and I'm going to listen to a DT song while I type this to atone for my sin) there's another way to look at this.

First, I think it is important to separate the person from the entertainer. We have a concept called Homo duplex whereby the person is not a simple singularity but a dual-natured being: simultaneously an individual (with their profane thoughts) but also a social being (the artist, in this case) and these two 'sides' of our existence are usually in conflict with one another and we routinely confuse one for the other.

Do not confuse the person for the artist.

For example, U2 has made millions of dollars singing songs about peace, love, god, and all that jazz while living like bourgeois pigs. Give capitalism a chance, I guess, but go to church.

Are U2 nothing but a bunch of hypocrites? They might be but that could also be the easy way out of the intellectual dilemma. We wish our icons were sincere but, at the end of the day, they are also just individuals who, in their social 'role' are one thing while, in their private lives, they are or can be the complete opposite. U2 is just an entertainment business that peddles progressive-sounding values while raking in the dough.

Petrucci and Dream Theater seem like one thing (progressive rockers -- we can discuss the irony of 'progressive' rock some other day) while, on the side of the individuals, they could be something completely other -- like a bunch of regressive, money grubbing reptilians. I don't know and I don't care -- and that not caring thing will be more important when we wrap this up.

If you think of yourself as a progressive entrepreneur U2 is your kind of band. If you are an anarchist you can still like U2 so long as you remember that the music and the act are greater than, and different than the individuals that made it, play it, distribute it, and profit from it.

Okay, that Dream Theater song I was listening to is over (now I recall why I threw that disk out the window) and I'm going to listen to some U2.... more atonement, you know... Ah, but wait, Dream Theater has a song called "The Bigger Picture" so I'll put that on while I wrap this up....

The actual 'bigger picture' is that music is greater than, and different than, the individuals and bands that create it. Even the band itself is not reducible to the band members.

If we add up the members of U2 and whoever else in in DT we do not end up with the band itself.

From the reductionist standpoint we find normal math: 1 + 1 + 1+ 1 = 4. But a famous physicist once said that this kind of thinking is linear and simple whereas social reality is non-linear and more complicated.



In terms of the totality that is U2, or whoever, you put four people together and you have not just 4 guys but a funhouse of selves multiplying and reflecting off of one another and the emergence of a musical totality that has a life of its own. Think of it like this: one day, all the members of U2 will be long dead and buried but U2 will live forever; Elvis is greater as a dead icon than he was as a broken down spectacle while still living. Long live the King, baby. The music transcends people and time and their stupidity as individuals.

Musicians are like everybody else: mostly a bunch of stupid people doing bad things all day long. And at night they dream of bad things. Enjoy the music and leave the personal side of the issue off to the side.

The good is the evil we choose to ignore. There really is only bad. We have to ignore something in order to have some good in the world. So, I'm going to continue ignoring John Petrucci and Dream Theater.






Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Bofatron Sofasaurus

Wondering what became of Bofatron? Swing by and get reacquainted.

https://www.facebook.com/groups/456636811142399/

ShredLikeHell.com

If you're wondering whatever became of the guys at Kronosonic.com and ShredLikeHell they're still making weird music and hanging out in an underground group at FaceBook. Drop and and say Hi.

https://www.facebook.com/groups/456636811142399/

Kronosonic.com

If you're wondering whatever became of the guys at Kronosonic.com and ShredLikeHell they're still making weird music and hanging out in an underground group at FaceBook. Drop and and say Hi.

https://www.facebook.com/groups/456636811142399/

DiMarzio Illuminator Pickups Petrucci JP15

A quick and dirty sample of the DiMarzio Illuminator neck pickup



John Petrucci JP15 Ernie Ball Music Man

And a Fractal Boogie MkIIC+ patch



Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Universal Audio Plugin Price Guide

UAD offers a sale on plugin X and maybe you have a coupon and you're wondering if the going price is good or maybe you should be patient and wait for one of the big annual sales and hope to get it for less.

Well, wonder no more. A helpful member of the GearSlutz community hipped me to this handy dandy spreadsheet that will take the mystery out of your decision-making process.

https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1mNc71xMoMGuFJ-G2pXSJ1FN8PMyOiH-iQ5lqiBY3mGo/edit?pref=2&pli=1#gid=0

While you're in the sheet, you can download your own copy as an Excel file or PDF, etc.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Fractal Audio Systems FAS Axe-Fx II XL+ Mesa Boogie MkIIC+

Sounds fantastic

If you want a track with some lead work in it:
http://gtroblq.blogspot.com/2017/02/john-petrucci-jp15-ernie-ball-music-man.html


Mesa Boogie MkIIC+

The Boogie Mk II C+ Fractal Audio Axe Fx II XL+ model and the Ernie Ball Music Man John Petrucci JP15 are a good combination.




EBMM JP15



Saturday, January 21, 2017

Gibson: The D Minor of Guitar Companies



We all know that D Minor is the saddest of all the keys but now we have a D minor specific guitar brand for all those tearjerkers.

For 2017 Gibson is pleased to announce that it has finally reached rock bottom. Go ahead, cry your eyes out.

The jewel in the crown is the all new LP Custom Special.

For those of you unfamiliar with the new Gibson product codes, I'll break it down for you:

LP = Love Pump

Custom = all the parts arrive through customs from China

Special = the proprietary slap-dash assembly and finishing methods

Rumor has it that for 2018 Gibson plans to just burn its factory to the ground, collect on the insurance, and flee the country.






Sunday, September 4, 2016

The Most Popular Electric Guitar Colors

Under Construction

I recently saw an article on the three most popular colors for electric guitars and, before I even opened the link, I already knew the answer: white, black, and sunburst. Yep, that's it. Because we're just that boring.

Here you go: white, black, and sunburst all rolled into one.


My choices are not the most popular but, being the arbiter of objective truth, I give you the three best colors for electric guitars: surf green (I could also go with sea foam green), faded fiesta red (coral), and



Surf Green with a rosewood fretboard. Amazing.





Faded Fiesta Red (Coral). Too cool.




And, finally, Mary Kaye blonde. Classy.


Friday, September 2, 2016

Best Corrosion Resistant Coated Guitar Strings

If you like coated guitar strings designed to resist corrosion you might as well bypass the middleman and just get the strings that other companies are using or simply rebranding.

An added benefit of these strings is they feel like normal strings.

Back in the good old days if you bought guitar strings from the usual suspects (Ernie Ball, DiAddario, etc.) they were all using wire from Mapes or just rebranding Mapes guitar strings.

At some point not too long ago these firms decided to switch to cheap Chinese wire for strings at that roughly $5 price point and the results are terrible. I ended up on a $300 odyssey to find the best guitar strings and found that Mangan was using the good stuff from Mapes. If you had more money, Pyramid was getting it done right with German wire.

If you prefer coated strings I found that Mapes is the best deal on high quality, low cost strings. I'm not  normally into treated strings but these really are fantastic. Nothing like those weird Elixir strings.

Buy them direct in three-packs and save a bundle of money. It's good to know you can still get high quality guitar strings made in the US.

I'm currently testing Mapes Octocore strings and will let you know how it goes.






Sunday, August 21, 2016

Absolute Guitar Victory

So, last time we examined Guitar Fails and how to succeed whereas today it's all about snatching defeat from the jaws of victory -- knowing the path to glory and giving it the big "Fuck You, Dude!"

Fuck songs. It's all about the distortion, blazing notes, noise, and solos.

You cannot get enough distortion. More. Distortion. Fuzz. Overdrive. Boost.

Fuck the other guy. Playing in a band will only detract from the Me Time. Get a looper and maybe a drum machine if you're the type of player that needs to keep time.

Look at me.

Do not get a band going; bands waste time and they never lead to anything anyways. Just play at home and record your distorted self. Virtual bands will live on in eternity anyways, unlike physical bands populated by jerks.

Chords? Whatever.

Theory? For eggheads. There are 12 notes, just play them all. Play them all at once. Hit record and roll your guitar down a flight of stairs.

Read Kierkegaard.

Scrapes, squeals, pings, whatever, are just as valuable more valuable than notes.

Anybody can play notes. Play smear.

You need a third bridge. Four if you're a trust fund baby like Henry Kaiser.

You need 5,000 pedals....mostly distortion boxes (and ring modulators).

You need offset bodies. Tele = exception. Mostly the ironically-named Jazzmaster which was never used to play jazz. Besides, you don't need theory so count jazz out except for noisy punk jazz which is just noisy punk.

You must stay away from curly maple as if it were the plague. Stick to black. Maybe sunburst if you're a hipster.

Scrape most the paint off. If you get a sunburst guitar, scrape all the finish off down to the bare wood. Much better.

If you are a trust fund baby and you have any curly maple spray paint it black.

It's all about the gear with the authentic vibe. What is Nels Cline or Fred Frith playing?

Listen to Japanese noise rock. Only. Or punk.

Hang out with these guys.











Saturday, August 20, 2016

History


Make Something Something Again

Since 1999 we've provided a home for oddball guitarists who play too fast, too slow, too clean, too dirty, or too something. I think most of us were galvanized by a 1992 album called Transmutation by the band Praxis, which featured the guitar stylings of Buckethead. Other touchstones were Vernon Reid of Living Colour and various other minor currents from the fringes of musical society, e.g., Henry Kaiser, Bill Frisell's work with Naked City, Mr. Bungle, microtonal music, and so on.

If you're a guitar misfit, feel free to join our merry little band.

We started with a Yahoo group for experimental guitarists that gathered some guys from a variety of early bulletin boards, especially the old Harmony Central guitar forum.

Our first real internet home was a site called Shred Like Hell (www.shredlikehell.com)

The totem for this site was a thing called Bofatron Sofasaurus who created a topsy-turvy whirlwind of consternation due to his irreverence and postmodern approach to speedy guitar. Guitar One magazine called BoSo a "Chops Monster" but everybody else just wanted to kill him.

SLH became too crazy and Bofatron checked out -- nobody has seen him since 2002 (though, there are occasional rumors and imposters). The site was rebuilt by Infinite Ego and renamed Kronosonic. Kronos was a huge success and, with success, it became a huge pain in the ass and the whole thing was scuttled and a long chain of slumlord message boards were constructed in a game of hide and seek.

Facebook reduced our last message board to a virtual ghost town so we decided to just submit to the corporate overlord and created a group there for our amusement -- and it was great to see some old faces that we had lost along the way return.

But Facebook just seems to lack something so we're using the GtrOblq domain to centralize operations to a certain extent and prepare for the future of oblique guitaring.

"GtrOblq" (the name was adopted from a Reid / Torn album) was one of our old haunts that we are now resurrecting. Along the way we have gained and lost thousands of comrades but we're still around.








GtrOblq.com


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Monday, August 8, 2016

Guitar Fails


Here are some common missteps most guitarists seem to make along the way:

A lot of folks mistake being a good guitarist with being a good musician. The two are not necessarily linked. If you want to make an impact, learn how to write good songs. There's an unlimited number of hot pickers that cannot write a good song and a ton of hot pickers who cannot make a dime from their skills because all those hot licks fail to add up to anything substantial.

Further, a lot of capable musicians cannot make the transition to earning money from their music because they fall under the illusion that good music speaks for itself. Wrong. If you want to have a music career, you'd be better off getting degrees in business and consumer psychology. Music is one thing, business is another.

Failure to look the part. If you want to be a rock star than look like one. How many guitarists show up wearing shorts and running shoes to a gig and then wonder why nobody takes them seriously. You have to stand out, look like a freak, not like some average schmo at convenience store.

Learn a lot of popular songs. Learning more licks and tricks will not help you become a better musician. Take the time to learn how to compose, arrange, read music, transcribe, and communicate with others using musical terminology and notation. And learn music theory as well.

Learn to sing. Your hot licks will not add as much to a band as you imagine. Being able to sing or just provide backup vocals will make you more valuable.

A lot of players start by learning the blues form and fail to move on to other genres. I think it is vital to know how to play blues music because it forms a solid foundation for Western popular music but most self-identifying 'blues' players are just lazy dolts who never learned anything else or too unimaginative to go beyond the most basic things. Lack of versatility and a lack of an open mind mean that most players will never create anything of lasting value.

Most players spend way too much time learning how to solo when 90% of the time guitarists are playing rhythm parts.

Stringing together one prefab lick after another does not make a good solo. Most guitarists have a 'lick' mentality and cobble shit together hoping it will make a coherent solo. It will not. You need to think MELODY and developing motifs. You should strive for hearing a melody line in your head and making that line come out on the guitar "at the speed of thought." If you're not working toward that goal then you're just playing notes. Take Satriani for example: this pick scrapes, squeals, and whammy bar tricks do not pay the bills, rather, it all comes down to catchy melodies.

It's important to learn scales but don't waste time playing them. The key to knowing scales is to learn the intervallic characteristics. Time spent on scales would be better utilized learning how to identify intervals all over the neck of the guitar such that, for example, if you're playing in the Key of A, from any note on the fretboard you should know how that note relates to the fundamental and the relationship of ever other note to the fundamental and the note being played. So, if I'm playing the note at the 9th fret, third string I need to know that it is an E, that it is the perfect 5th of the tonic, and that if I play a major third higher than the E, 9th fret on the 2nd string, I'm playing the major 7th note in the key of A (and that note is G#)....and if I lower the major 7th by a half step then I have introduced a dominant or flat 7th tonality and that the resulting sound will want to head off into the direction of D major and then back to A or maybe E or E7. That's what you should be getting out of scale and harmonization practice. Likewise, if I 'need' some notes from a little pool that contains a major third and a major seventh I have a couple of options. If I go with the major scale I'm going to keep going in the direction I was going. If I call up that raised fourth from the Lydian I now have the opportunity to take things in a more roundabout way, either a detour to another key or just round off a corner by way of getting back to where I was.

Most guitarists are locked into the boxes created by frets and don't realize that the real magic happens with micro bends and playing 'between' notes. It is quite possible to play between a major and a minor third with tiny bends that lend an entirely different sound: a little bit major and a little bit minor simultaneously.

Overplaying is a serious problem. Despite some notable exceptions, blazing fast guitar solos rarely have a place in a song that is going to have wide appeal and most audience members at a gig will grow bored very quickly with masturbatory guitar wanking. Just stop doing that. It's not even possible to impress other guitarists with that stuff.

Neglecting other instruments. There's more to life than guitar and one of the best moves you can make is to learn piano, drums, horns, etc., in addition to guitar. The world is full of guitarists but paying gigs come to drummers and bassists with a place to practice. However, we (most of us, anyways) have limits and need to know where our strengths are. I have been part of several bands that could have been good but sunk because guys wanted to run away from their strengths: killer bassist who wants to sing and play the guitar and does both terribly; great drummer who wants to write lyrics, and so on.

Most "guitarists" are actually just guitar owners who sit around their den noodling on their guitars for a few minutes per night, hearing their axe abstracted from any musical context. What sounds good in your den, by yourself, will seldom work with the rest of the band. Forget about "tone."

People worried about "tone" are typically just people who have just given up on music. Once a person is marooned on the Island of Tone they can just flounder there for the duration making zero musical impact. Better yet, they can argue endlessly about it on guitar internet forums where their lack of skill or musicality is masked by a pseudo-authority centered on something purely subjective and irrational.

The goal as a musician, like any other art, is to add something new to the world. Your "tone" is not something objective you add to the world like good lyrics or a memorable melody."Tone" is an excuse to not add anything new to the world. Still, you're going to have a tone just by pursuing your quest. Don't quest for tone, let it find you.

Failure to use the whole range of the guitar, from top to bottom, and all the harmonics as well.

Failure to use tone and volume knobs. Use the knobs or be a knob.

Tone is not "in the fingers" but both hands. Your picking hand probably contributes as much if not more to your "tone" than your fretting fingers. Most players spend all their time trying to figure out how to positively make sounds with their guitar and not enough time, negatively, learning how to subtract sound (really, unwanted sound) from their playing -- i.e., how to mute strings effectively and alter timber through various muting techniques.

Thinking that guitar skills translate into bass skills. Few things in life are as unpleasant as playing with a guitarist who thinks the bass is just a guitar missing two strings.

Most players wait too long to play gigs because they think they're not good enough. There's no time like the present. No matter your skill level, you need to get out and play with others.

Focusing way, way, way, way, way too much on gear. I mean, way, way, way too much. A guitar (just about any guitar) and an amp is enough to get the job done. I know, you spend all your time on The Gear Page and imagine you can gear night and day differences between the various brands of expensive cables but you're just full of shit. Another guitar will not make you better.

Sunday, July 31, 2016

GtrOblq's Egotronics



What we're going to do is introduce some disruptive techniques called 'Egotronics' into the guitar world with an eye toward going beyond the typical scale and arpeggio sounds associated with rock and metal guitar music by blending in some tweaked approaches from country (chicken pickin') and finger style guitar.

Shred for people who can't shred and don't even like shred guitar music.

Here's a tiny solo improv with mostly horizontal axis notes.



Here's a couple of licks at a slow tempo featuring the vertical axis notes.



Call it what you will: alt shred, hybrid, fusion, avant-garde, whatever, but the results are crazy speed and atypical phrasing to spice up our love of pretty melodies. Why do we want faster and crazier? Well, we can easily fall behind the times with nostalgia and history but we also need to be able to keep up with a world that gets faster and crazier every day.

Here's my way of looking at the situation: in 'shred' mode, rock and metal guitarists are simultaneously too fast and too slow -- playing lines that are too fast to have much musical validity (cartoonish) and, at the same time, too slow to really get into mind-blowing territory, that weird region where sound transforms into extra-sonic mental experiences, where sound becomes geometry, texture, and colors.

To me, the world of 'shred' and neoclassical rock (where you find most shredders) is about as appealing as, say, champagne with hotdogs. But, hey, if a cotton candy foie gras combo sounds appetizing, knock yourself out. But that kind of music is not my thing. Yet, there are some guitarists that manage to combine extreme velocity in ways that push the guitar into more interesting directions.

For me, rock players like Vernon Reid, Arthur Rhames, Shawn Lane, and Mick Barr are or were heading in the right direction. Warning, half these guys died young, so proceed with caution! Oh, and I cannot forget to mention Buckethead and his tenure with Praxis -- he's one metal guitarist that redefined the parameters of fast and furious playing. And I can't skip over Eddie Van Halen. Though he's not really much of a speed demon, his popularization of two-handed tapping really got everyone's ears attuned to a new form of phrasing that emphasized large interval leaps.

Ripping around on the guitar as fast as you can is undeniably fun, however, it grows old quickly, especially if the player is just following the same old recipe that every other shredder is using. I grew up emulating players that didn't really dabble in the fast and the furious -- I was, and still am primarily into players like Jeff Beck, Jimmy Page, Jimi Hendrix, Neil Young. Beck: quirky phrasing and making the most out of the whammy bar; Page: the contagious riff and punk-slop soloing; Hendrix: the vibe, feedback, and deep groove; Young: the simplicity of bashing out chords through a little tweed amp on the verge of melting down. No extended-range instruments or high-gain amps here. Just Fender and Gibson guitars and cranked power amp distortion. These guys did about everything you could with the blues scale, but, really, there's more to life than the blues scale!

It wasn't not until I got into a lot of country players that things took a weird turn for my playing. And this is where things get interesting: where rock, metal, jazz, and country intermingle, both musically and technically. Reid turned me onto horn players like Coltrane and Dolphy and Danny Gatton got me into chicken pickin' and banjo music.

It was my study of country guitar techniques and their application to rock music that did the most for me when it came to developing the kinds of sonic textures and shapes that I found most compelling. "But hey, enough of my yakkin'; whaddaya say? Let's boogie!"

By the way, if you want to hang out with some cool dudes cruise on by our FaceBook Group.

Egotronics 1: Introduction

Egotronics 2:

Egotronics 3:

Egotronics 4:

Egotronics 5:





Saturday, July 23, 2016

PRS Johnny Hiland Signature Guitar in Custom Sea Foam Green


In 2009, Sea Foam green was a standard color for the PRS Swamp Ash Special but if a person wanted a Johnny Hiland model in that sexy color it would have to be custom ordered, and, if there was one person you could count on to custom order a Sea Foam PRS, it would be Chris Tugwell, known especially for his collection of Sea Foam PRSi featured in a 2009 issue of Vintage Guitar.




The month that photo ran in VG, the Sea Foam JH under consideration went through final assembly, so, the timing was wrong for it to be included. I don't know how many PRSi of this color Chris ultimately owned but the JH had to be among his final acquisitions because Tugwell passed away at the end of December, 2010.



His PRS guitars were, for the most part as far as I can tell, bought up by guys on the PRS online forums where he hung out.  By September 2012 this guitar had gone back to the factory for a pickup replacement and returned sporting a new set of uncovered 59/09 humbuckers and a wiring change so that the treble pickup could operate in single-coil mode.



By February 2013 the guitar was being sold by Martin Music in Memphis but before it left there it was autographed by Johnny Hiland himself during a PRS clinic. And somewhere along the way it was also autographed by Mr. PRS on the back of the headstock. Also somewhere along the way it lost  its trem cover on the rear (or never had one) and then acquired one. I'm tempted to autograph it! ;)

Not bad: a custom color PRS with all the autographs!



However, that was not the primary motivation for nabbing this axe.

Back in 1988 or '89 I came 'this close' to buying a CE model but I was never enamored of the sounds of PRS guitars. When the HFS pickup came out in the early 90s I thought things were heading in the right direction but it wasn't until the 57/08 pickup twenty years later that I was really blown away. I was looking for a Les Paul when I decided to revisit PRS and I ended up with an SC58. In the last five years I picked up a few other PRSi but I still had in the back of my mind a bolt-on maple neck PRS that would deliver some of that Fender spank.

So, the CE has been on my radar for a long time but it was two later variants that got my attention. The PRS Electric Guitar Book features a photo of a 1997 Sea Foam green Swamp Ash Special that became an object of irrational lust for me -- it was the only SAS that I ever wanted, still, I didn't really want or need that Seymour Duncan Vintage Rails in the middle position and the extra two frets would have been cool. Anyways, I could never find one to buy and none of the later Swamp Ash models (NF, 25th, etc.) did a thing for me.

The Hiland model was another CE variant that I was attracted to but I never found one that I wanted more than, say, a Custom 24, etc., mainly because I wasn't thrilled with the pickups or the wiring scheme that did not include a split coil treble pickup, odd for a PRS with a splittable neck hummer.

You might ask 'Why not just swap out the pickups yourself?' Well, whoever sent this one back to the PRS PTC (and that is where it went) was set back $500 for the trouble. Ouch! And I've been down the pickup rabbit hole and, frankly, there is no bottom. Changing the bridge pickup on my G&L Legacy has become a weekly ritual.

Then, out of the blue, this Hiland in Sea Foam came up for sale at Dave's.

Only 7.4 pounds with a sleek and fast, 24-fret neck, 59/09 pickups that both split. Finally, a CE that hit all the marks.





If you have any further info on this guitar drop me a line: gtroblq at gmail dot com




Wednesday, May 4, 2016

The UAD Fender Tweed Deluxe VS the AxeFxII Tweed Deluxe


Honestly, I've never been much of a fan of the tweed Deluxe or Twin amps from Fender. For me, the tweed Bassman is a killer amp, one of my favs of all time (the larger cab and the 4x10 speakers make a huge difference to me) and things got even more interesting in the transitional 'brownface' era, yet, one cannot deny the iconic sound of these amps and UAD has just released a Fender-authorized version of this American classic. I definitely like the fact that I can use it in Console and it sounds very authentic. The problem for me with these early tweed amps is that when they are cranked the distortion is very fizzy and jagged -- not my cup of tea at all. I never found a use for the tweed Deluxe or Twin until I got the AxeFxII+ and, for once, I enjoyed the sound. It's still not my fav by any stretch but I thought it would be fun to crank up both the new UAD version and see how it stacks up with the AxeFx emulation.




UAD is represented in the first minute and the AxeFx in the second.

Personally, I think the AxeFx kills the UAD model. The UAD sounds just like every small tweed amp from Fender I've every played but the AxeFx sound way better.

I tried to set them up pretty much identical and just cranked up the gain.

Either way, you get either an authentic sound or something that sounds better than real life.

Uncompressed .wav file:

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

What is a Transform Chord? Added Tone Chords vs Suspended Chords

I ran into a piano video the other day and the guy used the term 'transform' to describe adding a second to a chord. 'Transform' chord is junk terminology for the "Added Tone Chord" (e.g., C add 2). Hilariously, he was pounced on by the theory nazis who berated him for not knowing what a suspended chord was, however, the 'added tone chord' (his 'transform' chord) is not a suspended chord, which is, a suspension (replacement) of the major or minor third with, usually, a fourth.






See: Mu Chord