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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


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 (

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.

History        Forum        Blog       Infinite Ego       Tutorials       Music      

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.

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

Friday, February 19, 2016

The Fender Sartrecaster

The Jean-Paul Sartre Signature Guitar from Fender.

For the player who wants nothing, Fender is proud to announce the all-new Sartrecaster!

Featuring an infinite scale length, n+1 dimensional tuners, and a revolutionary zero-weight vortex body, the Sartrecaster delivers a tonal abyss that will have fans running for the No Exit sign.

Ultimately, you have a choice. 

L'enfer, c'est les autres.

Friday, February 5, 2016

2007 Paul Reed Smith Custom 24 Brazilian

2007 Paul Reed Smith Custom 24 Brazilian

You may have noticed a supply of NOS PRS Custom 24s on the market lately. Here's the deal according to Dave's Guitar Shop:

The Custom 24 model featured Brazilian rosewood fretboards until 1991 when PRS switched to Easr Indian but there were occasional spurts of rosewood including the 2003 "Custom 24 Brazilian" series limited to 500 pieces.

This 2007 model (not documented in the 2014 revised edition of the PRS book by Burrluck) differs from the 2003 models in that it features paua shell birds and logo and an Artist grade top instead of a "10 top" (features of the "Artist Package"). The five-way rotary switch has also been upgraded with a three-way toggle and pickup splitter ("coil-taps"). This one also has a 'standard' or 'regular' (now called the Pattern Regular) neck carve.

Interestingly, the guitar sat in the PRS factory for years but it sports a 2013 serial number.  Another interesting characteristic is the custom color. According to the 2007 price list, turquoise
was not an option.

Perhaps my favorite feature is that this Custom 24 weighs only 7 pounds. Ah! I think my SC58 weighs close to 9 so this is a nice change.

It plays like a dream, looks fantastic, and the pickups are great. I really like the 57/08 in my 58 but the bridge HFS is fantastic for heavily distorted sounds. The action was perfect out of the case and there was no need to tweak the truss rod at all.

Dream Theater The Astonishing Review

The Astonishing

Diet pill infomercial music composed by someone with narcissistic personality disorder and delusions of grandiosity. 

Sunday, September 6, 2015

The Mu Chord

What is a Mu Chord? A Mu Major chord is just adding a 2 to the major triad.

It's not a suspended chord because the third in part of the chord: 1, 2, 3, 5

Is there a Mu Minor chord? Sure, why not? The "Mu Chord" is just some bullshit name invented by the Marina Rock dudes in Steely Dan so, go crazy with the Mu.

See: Transform, Added Tone, and Suspended Chords

See also: The Pineapple Chord

Gibson Richlite Fretboards

What is "Richlite"? Basically, it is phenolic resin (think plastic printed circuit board) mixed with paper to keep the heat-cured plastic from breaking. Richlite is nothing more than the affordable countertop material used in kitchens for over 50 years. It's plastic + paper baked together and formed into sheets.

Why would Gibson use Richlite for fretboard material? Because it is cheap and easy to work with. Having the Feds confiscate all your wood for violation of the law might have had something to do with it as well.

Is it good? I guess people will find out when they try to get their guitars re-fretted.

If you prefer chicken McNuggets to solid cuts of meat then you're probably the kind of guy that would not be disappointed with a Gibson guitar with a Richlite fretboard.

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Most Albums by an Artist . World Record for Most Albums Made / Recorded by a Musician . Most Solo Records in History

Which musician, band, or artist has recorded the most albums in history? I dug around a bit and as far as I can tell the musician with the most recorded solo albums is Buckethead (a.k.a. Brian Carroll) with 198 as of September 5, 2015. I'm being very specific re. the date because for the last couple of years Buck has released about 5 albums or "Pikes" per month from his Bandcamp page.

UPDATE: The Pikes run ended or was paused in March 2016 when Buck put out 5 Pikes, the last one on the 30th. That represented the 234th Pike and his 264th solo record.

I was pretty skeptical that productivity at this pace would mean poor quality but, if you're into riff and shred rock guitar, then you'd be pretty happy with most of these "Pikes." Brian seems like an inexhaustible wellspring of clever and catchy riffs. Though, quite a few of his "Pikes" also swerve off into mellow, introspective territory as well, reminiscent of his Colma album from years ago.

Apart from the "Pikes", Bucket's Discography is very impressive: including stints with Praxis and Guns N' Roses along with solo and side projects, no to mention many contributions to movie soundtracks.

Buckethead is rapid approaching the 400-mark (UPDATE: 445 total projects) when it comes to recorded appearances when you take in to consideration all the the albums, singles, guest appearances, EPs, videos, soundtracks, etc., and there appears to be no end in sight.

If he doesn't hold the record yet, just wait a few more days, and, he might. While you're waiting, enjoy Pikes #155

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Infinite Ego (Infinity, Go!)

Infinite Ego is a solo artist and the one-time mastermind of the now-defunct avant rock band Savior Onasis (Kansas City). IE’s musings and instructional materials have been used by the Public Broadcasting System (PBS), cited in scholarly works, featured in guitar publications, and distributed to students and enthusiasts around the world. IE currently holds forth on his Psychopompos Blog (your current location). 

IE has meddled with electric, acoustic, fretless, and microtonal (19-TET) guitars; bass; guitar synth; lap steel; banjo; oud; sarod; drums and various percussion instruments. 

In the distant past IE was a student of various guitar teachers including the late Bill Brown (Ozark Mountain Daredevils) and learned jazz theory with a former Berklee dude. From the early 1990s through 2001 IE gigged around the Kansas City area in various roots-progressive bands. Savior Onasis formed in 2002 and played the Beaux Arts Festival in KC.

IE was the Director of KronoSequence, a creative arts, improvisation, and multimedia project at the Kansas City Art Institute (2001-2003) and doyen of the now defunct online, creative guitar collective, Kronosonic.

Today, IE moderates a guitar forum within FaceBook

Reference Points

Inspired by the unadorned, bombastic thrashings of Neil Young and Crazy Horse as well as the socio-political fusillades of Jimi Hendrix, etc., IE began fumbling with the guitar in the early 80s. Enervated by the traditional blues and cover band route, IE was awakened in the late 80s by the appearance of Vernon Reid and Living Colour:

“I was putting on my shoes and heading off for work one day when I heard this crazy guitar solo on TV; I watched and listened in disbelief, called in sick, and pulled my guitar out from under my bed, dusted it off, and tuned up. From that point on I began investigating avant garde and unconventional guitar music. I never gave up my passion for music like Neil Young and Hendrix but I want to enrich those rock currents with unconventional elements derived from individuals and bands that I discovered along the way such as Henry Kaiser, Bill Frisell, Naked City, Vernon Reid, Mr. Bungle, Praxis, Buckethead, Adrian Belew, Nels Cline, Marc Ribot, Fred Frith, Hans Reichel, Sonic Youth, among many others.” 


Nineteen Days in the Gulf of Silence (Compilation, 2003)
Enjoy Your Own Damn Symptom (2004)
God, Guns, and Guts (2005)
Red Guard (2005)
Move Like You Got A Porpoise (Live at the 2001 Beaux Arts Festival)
The Unraveling Begins (Compilation, 2008) 

IESO Music Streaming and Downloads

Check out the new stuff at Sound Cloud

Tools of the Tirade

IE gets work done at Occipital Sound (kinda like the Fortress of Solitude without all the ice) with a ton of different guitars, amps, and effects, and computers, and whatnot.


IESO and earlier incarnations have been featured, spotlighted, profiled, showcased, and poked and prodded at Guitar One, Guitar 9, Unfretted, Art Whore, Dead Angel,, Zebox, Weirdsville Radio, Chops From Hell, Garage Band, and Sea of Tranquility.

“A chops monster.” Guitar One

“...combine progressive guitar chops and adventurous feats of guitar synthesis with an obvious attentiveness to the compositional design of the song, and you have a foundation for great music. This is one of Ego’s best, and surely a strong indication of better things to come from this ever-evolving guitarist.” Ken Rubenstein

“...his guitar playing is like a swinging headache ball, plowing through the aural walls of our world and sending all preconceptions to earth in a cloud of dusty feedback. Upon this wreckage he builds strange new structures. It’s a terrible thing to witness -- and a whole lot of fun.”

“Did a guitar ever seem so effortlessly played?” Todd Madson/Mad-Sound

“Infinite Ego sure is a tasty, patient player! Enjoy Your Own Damn Symptom is a thoroughly enjoyable collection of rock guitar instrumentals that always manage to slyly de-emphasize the fact that they’re rock guitar instrumentals. My favorite thing about IE’s music is that it always manages to convey a very convincing and very memorable sort of universal cinematic sweep, but you never lose sight of [his] personality and sensibilities either. That’s a hard balance to achieve, but [the album] is an effortless blend of catchy tunes, quirky nuances, and mature rock guitar.” Dan Stearns

“Better heard than described, the music of Savior Onasis will challenge the senses, while transporting the listener to provocative and beautiful places.”

“One of the better guitarists out there. This dude straight up shreds!! (MBI Records)”

“From the distorted alien FX and feedback that mark “The Omniarch” to the solo banjo piece, “The Gulf of Silence,” the first release by post-rock outfit Savior Onasis -- guitarist/leader Infinite Ego, is an almost uproariously diverse collection of instrumentals that run the gamut of rock and non-rock styles. “Where the North Atlantic and Kansas City Collide” is a split between a short volley of accordion, pizzicato violin and brass samples, and two minutes of ambient soundscaping. “Another Damn Blue Shirt” employes a ‘rock & roll’ chamber quartet motif and samples by turntablist Detmold. The album’s crowning achievement is the fourteen-minute-plus “No Other Sign [Shall Be Given]” which looses more bursts of Ozricoid loops at first, but gives way to a tougher power trio demeanor that sounds like Trey Gunn and Steve Hunter on a heavy fusion trip. Ego (playing a seven string) and drummer Kristian Ball rock out and space out in this turbulent journey that serves to proffer more tasty licks than a doe on a salt block. “Steam Engine” is the second cousin of “No Other Sign”, “Gulf” is not dissimilar to what one encounters on Kyle Dawkins’ Solponticello release Conasauga and “June Bug Jelly” also curbs its boisterous veneer to close the album on an acoustic note (two untitled hidden bonus tracks follow). It’s a shame a band of this calibre lingers (currently) in obscurity -- let’s help to change that.” Sea of Tranquility

“Eschewing a ‘signature sound’ Ego continues to develop moment by moment. He plays conventional electric and acoustic guitars, a custom Chris Shaffer 7-string fretless, guitar synth, 19TET microtonal, prepared/microtonal, and dabbles with lap steel, banjo, oud, and sarod. IESO music ranges from straight ahead rock to absurd fusions of postmodernism, roots, ambient, noise, riff-and-shred, and just about anything else that can be tossed into the cultural blender; he’s especially fond of string music from Senegal and Mali and is currently working on capturing kora-like sounds on a microtonal 19TET + fretless hybrid nylon string utilizing a ‘third bridge’ [form of prepared guitar].”

Awards and Reactions

The Stun/Bofatron Sofasaurus project (a grad school social psychology experiment gone horribly wrong) won numerous awards at Garageband (the now defunct music review site that appears to have been clobbered by Apple)

* Best Guitars (Experimental Rock) March 28, 2005
* Most Rockin' Track (Experimental Rock) March 28, 2005
* Grooviest Rhythm (Instrumental Rock) March 28, 2005
* Best Keyboards (Alternative) March 2004
* Best Keyboards (again) March 2004
* Song of the Day April 2005, (Instrumental Rock)
* Track of the Day April 18 2005 in Instrumental Rock
* Most Original in Instrumental Rock, 11 April 2005

Stun/Bofatron has become an almost mythical entity by this point. Telling the story of his latest musical instrument acquisition, Jahloon (the UnFretted web master) says: 

... One more thing I knew about the instrument, was the rumour that the shadowy musician Bofatron Sofasaurus had used it on some of his recordings. Bofa had appeared out of the Kronosonic artist's stable, playing well beyond anything deemed humanly possible. Guitar internet forums buzzed as to who he actually was. Some put forward the theory he was a top name, playing what his record company did not approve of. Others claimed the performance was electronically generated, again the degree of artistry deemed beyond human achievement. One thing I did know: Bofa had done some of his performances on the instrument. I did not know which, because many had been pulled from the Internet, but I did have his instruction book. Pretty much full of esoteric musings. We still don't know much about Bofa, he arrived and then he left, and while he was around he dropped some off the edge musical diversions, characteristics like "Transgressive Fluidity" and "Disturbing Shred" were names he gave his style. Then he would espouse scale fragmentation theory, harmolodics, and the tyranny of the Id. Couple that with killer tracks like Jupiter Proximity (death in orbit) and you can see the direction he was headed ...

My buddy Chris Shaffer managed to salvage a page of the old web site from the late 90s via the internet archive that had some fan reactions to BoSo; these were some (good) emails sent to BoSo:

"Your music says so many things...It says the impossible is possible...Time and space can be manipulated.... It says "You think you have heard guitar, wait till you hear this".... Your music is like a thousand wars rolled into one... It is inspirational yet horrifying.... Pure pandemonium! "

"Cool stuff, such a unique sound! Very intense..."

"Holy shit. That's all I can say.
That was the most awesome thing I've ever heard in my life."

“I found your stuff different and interesting. Maybe it's all been done before, but I haven't heard it. Can't exactly whistle it on your way home but demonstrates creativity. Cool!”

"Very creative! I know that's that a word that some people use as "Interesting but too weird for me." But, hey, I'm weird, too, I guess that's why I like it."

"This guy is completely insane. (just kidding) No really, he is so incredibly fast and accurate, it will blow your mind. I can't really compare him to anybody, but the guy is about the most original guitarist I have heard in a long time."

"this is the Holy Grail of shred"

"Welcome to the bizarre world of Bofatron, where the notes fly faster than humanly possible"

"a total assault!! My heart is pounding, my eyes are wide-open, sweat beads are on my brow and my fingers are infused with a life of their own - who could ask for more? Thanks again, keep up the wizardry"

"Wow! You are very cool. Funny, I listened to GPS2 and thought, wow, I want to hear it again. It freaked out my Music Match the second time and played it like 100Xs faster than normalvery strange. :o) Seems to me you could
find a pretty big audience of listeners for your music.

"Dude, is this for real?"

"let me tell you, you are amazingly talented! Good god man! You blow me out of the water. God, I want to get rid of my guitar all together. Well, I won't go that far but DAMN!"

"Full on hyper shred madness!"

"I'm listening to some of your stuff right now... it's amazing. Very bizarre. I can see the Buckethead influence. Do you play out much? I'd love to come to a show."

"Jeez, man. That hurt."

"listening to Stun play has me totally in awe. I'd be ecstatic if I was half that good. Really shows me what is possible if you learn new things or new ways of doing things and experimenting instead of learning Metallica tabs note by note."

"Melee of Bucketheadian Guitaring"

"Wonderful tones. If you can find David Lee Roth (tell him you'll pay him to trim your hedges) You could have the next Van Halen. Fucking great. Eddie wishes he had tones that good."

"I want to thank all of you, especially Stun, for posting your music clips. After listening to them in disbelief, I feel like sitting down and playing. I think I sat in disbelief and bewilderment after listening to Spectre for the first time. Still don't know just what's going on there, but it is unique. "

"I must say that I have been listening to music all afternoon and yours is some of the best I have heard in a while. Great modern sound. I like the themes of your music, as well."


"Where others build edifices of sound, Stun's guitar playing is like a swinging headache ball, plowing through the aural walls of our world and sending all preconceptions to earth in a cloud of dusty feedback. Upon this wreckage he builds strange new structures. Where [other guitarists are] going for the throat of the guitar-hero marketplace, Stun is kicking the marketplace in the groin and bitch-slapping the sucker out of his way. It's a terrible thing to witness -- and a whole lot of fun"

[GPS is] "a good song! the guitar is pretty weird!"

"one of the most freaked out weird guitar styles...."

"can you say 'weird'?"

"Sweet...IS THIS INSTRUMENTAL?!!! add some words..."

“This guitarist [that's me ya know?!] claims Guitar Shred God Buckethead as his main influence. Just what this world needs...more dementia! Give his [music] a listen.”

"Whenever I finish downloading a song of yours and then click the ‘play’ button, I mentally brace myself for a trip without drugs. Sometimes it's overwhelming, and sometimes it's just what I need. That's a wonderful thing, and I thank you."

“Absolutely horrifying. This is the most impossible stuff in the world. Fucking science fiction abilities here man. You really are from another world.”


UAD Precision Limiter vs Toneboosters Barricade

Can a $20 plugin hang with one costing ten times more?

I spent several hours over a few days comparing the Universal Audio Precision Limiter to the ToneBoosters Barricade Limiter, which I already own. The results were both surprising and, really, not that surprising.

Both plugs perform the same basic task: clean brick wall limiting on busses and especially the stereo mix bus.

The UAD PL works and sounds good. No real complaints from me except that UA wants $200 for it.

Auto release works well and the sound is pretty transparent without pumping and with a nice compliment of metering options.

And, of course, the great thing about the UAD limiter is that I can load it into Console, which I cannot do with the TB product.

I often use the Barricade limiter from ToneBoosters (we used to know TB as the highly regarded Jeroen Breebaart suite of plugins). I've known for years that Breebaart plugins are not only good for the money but overall excellent effects. Check out his CV -- this guy knows what he's doing.

Anyway, though I was perfectly happy with the TB limiter I'm always looking for something different -- you never know, you know?

I was somewhat surprised to find that the TB limiter performed noticeably better than the UA offering. The sound was smoother and cleaner -- quite a bit, actually. And, ironically, the Barricade offers a lot more precision over the controls.

The only downer is that I cannot load the TB plug into Console which would be handy from time to time. However, strapped to the stereo bus, the ToneBooster limiter is a clear winner in the sound and control department. I'd give ease of operation to the UAD, perhaps, for the auto release and attack functions for people who might not know where to start with attack and release settings.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Infinite Ego Ringtone for your Apple iOS device

That's right, folks, get your very own, first and only, official Infinite Ego ringtone guaranteed to make you bust a move when people or robots call.

Maybe you're wondering just how funky this ringtone is. It's about three times funkier than this image. So get going there, fella.

On your Apple iOS device (iPhone, iPad, etc.)

1. Open your iTunes Store app

2. Search for "Infinite Ego"

3. Scroll down to the ringtones results and find "She's Tired of It."

4. Purchase for that low, low price

5. Select this tone as your default ringtone

6. Put on your dancing shoes and get ready for the party to start.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Quartersawn Necks and Stiff Action: A Case of Misleading Vividness

You see claims regarding quarter-sawn necks resulting in stiff action. The Eric Johnson signature Strat is often used as an example to support the claim for a relationship between stiffness of playability and the effect of quartersawn wood. We've tackled that one before.

There is no scientific basis for such a claim regarding the quartersawing of maple and resulting stiffness of action which leaves only the beliefs and stories of people making claims on message boards or individuals (random) empirical evidence -- all of which fall well below the threshold of scientific rigor and is insufficient for generalizations.

Keep in mind that we all have beliefs about our gear, and that's perfectly fine, beliefs don't always have to conform to science (for example, I know that my PRS sounds better than your Gibson but I cannot prove it) but when a person generalizes from empirical trial and error or comes to general conclusions from the anecdotes of others, they are running into a logical buzz saw.

As it turns out, I plowed through quite a few threads at an online guitar forum, yeah, that one, and the people complaining about stiff EJ Strats were those who had maple fretboard models whereas the vast majority of EJ Strat owners who claimed their guitars were easy to play owned the rosewood fretboard models. Both models have quartersawn necks so the quarter or flat sawing of the neck wood is not the culprit.

The way people gather 'data' and generalize is really problematic.

Some Guy finds that when he swaps out one neck for another that there is a difference in the action; one neck was quarter sawn and the other was flat sawn. Okay, differences make a difference. But to do this a couple of times and generalize that quartersawn maple results in a stiff action compared to flat sawn necks is a case of what is called "Misleading Vividness." How in the world can Some Guy claim to swap out a whole new neck and state that "nothing changed" but the grain orientation? Hip me to that voodoo, brother! In reality, the whole neck, all its variables, changed. Anyway, on to misleading vividness:

"Misleading vividness (also known as anecdotal fallacy) is anecdotal evidence describing an occurrence with sufficient detail to permit hasty generalizations about the occurrence. It may be used, for example, to convince someone that the occurrence is a widespread problem. Although misleading vividness does little to support an argument logically, it can have a very strong psychological effect because of a cognitive heuristic called the availability heuristic".

Anyways, a guitar may have a stiff action but it is not due to how the wood was cut in the neck. What contributes to a stiff action? All of the following can contribute to stiffness of playability of a Strat but not wood grain orientation:

Neck geometry including radius
Height of strings above the frets
Scale length
String gauge, string material, string condition
Fret size and material
String run behind the nut and saddles (also bore depth in the sustain block).... this probably makes no difference at all. I can find no physics to back this claim
String trees or no string trees
Finish on the neck or absence thereof
Number of 'trem' springs
And the thing nobody wants to think about: player technique

The thing that makes the EJ tough to play is the combination of low frets and fretboard finish on the maple model.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Why is Contemporary Pop Bad and Repetitive?

The stupidity of contemporary pop music is in the news again and the explanations are about as disappointing as the music itself: as it turns out, we're told, our brains enjoy stuff that is simple and repetitive....

Ah, yes, the simple and repetitive reductionism of brains and 'because evolution', etc. Hang on there, Darwin, there's a more complex but also more interesting explanation.

Let's start with the cohort that determines the form and content of popular music: young kids. It's not that kids are just inherently stupid and consequentially enjoy stupid music 'because evolution' or undeveloped mental powers. Rather, like everybody else, kids are attuned to what their peers are interested in. It's that kids are more attentive to popular trends than your average 40-something, but we can all be guilty of following the herd.

Being accepted and being part of a group is important for kids. You're either part of a group or you end up being that dopey loser at the front of the bus with the bowl haircut and breakfast on his neck.

Most groups have a central personality, the hyper-popular boy or girl, that will, to a great extent, dictate the tastes of the group; like what they like or be cast out. If you were paying attention back in the day you'll remember that the most popular kids seemed to be the dumbest. Like total idiots.

You can see where this is going: the willing and active sacrifice of the intellect on the part of group members (Nietzsche) for the sake of collective co-existence and all the emotional effervescence that is gained by group acceptance (Durkheim).

Think back to when you were a kid and reflect on the who the most popular kids were in school. Were they not also the dumbest people you knew? The top jocks? Rocks. The head cheerleader? Duh. Being popular in school is not easy: it takes an endless string of stunts and idiotic pranks to maintain celebrity status and there's nothing sexy about solving for X.

Look at it this way: smart people don't like groups to begin with so the virtuoso group leader tends to be the dumbest and establishes dumb patterns of action and thought. And musical tastes follow this  logic.

See those ding-a-lings in the above photo? They're just ideal-typical (extreme) representations of your average junior high celebrity ding-a-ling.

Unfortunately, stupidity is where the fun is. Freud called it the intellectual poverty of the group. He might have been overly pessimistic but there is a certain truth to that idea of group stupidity, at least when it comes to things like religion, politics, culture, shopping, .....uh, okay, Freud was right.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Gibson Les Paul VS PRS Bernie Marsden SE

Night and day? I never thought I'd say it but I actually prefer the sound of the Korean import over the 'real deal' 1959 Les Paul.

If I were to hear these two guitars without the backing tracks I suspect I'd go for the Les Paul but within the musical context, the PRS sounds more musical with more punch and a nice smooth bite on the top end. And, geez, you'd save yourself enough money to buy a house and a Mercedes to park in the garage.

Hats off to PRS for delivering a killer axe that anybody can afford.

Omnisphere 2 by Spectrasonics

What more can you say other than the best soft synth on the market just got better.

I actually interface with the Omnisphere with a Roland VG-99 and it gets the job done.

And the sounds are just amazing. Here is a palette of just a handful of the pads in 24 bit uncompressed wav format:

The Tape Emulation Hot Input Problem

In my opinion, the recording arts peaked in the late 70s and, ever since, every cohort of musicians / engineers / producers has found a way to screw things up in one way or another.

In the 80s it was fizzy preamp gain on master volume metal amps and horrendous overuse of digital reverb on everything.

We had The Loudness Wars that have rendered mountains of albums all but unlistenable due to the misuse of brick wall limiters.

A problem I hear a lot in contemporary releases relates to slamming the front of tape recorder emulations or tape saturation plugins.

This is a variation on the problem of compression being the single most overused effect in recordings.

Just the other day, on NPR, I heard a great song by a new duo, and, while the song was good, the production was horrible because the tape emulation plugin (and I could tell right away that it was precisely a tape plugin) mangled the hell out of some of the instruments, creating not the intended compression and harmonic richness, but, rather, a mangled pumping mess that did not enhance the song at all. Compression pumping can be useful if it brings a track to life but it has to lock into the tempo of the song not grind up against it or stick out of your speakers like a mass of throbbing gristle.

I use a Studer tape deck emulation (UAD) on some instruments and buses but what I've noticed is that every time I use it, the input, while set to zero, makes everything sound horrible.

I think a lot of people naturally assume that setting the input to zero (where it starts at when you open the plugin) is where you want to be -- nobody wants to turn anything down!

But what you get is all redline and tons of distortion. Remember, kids, in the digital domain there is no such thing as headroom. Now, I'm all for distortion (harmonics) but not everything can be slammin' hot or you just get a mess.

Turn the input down so that your fake VU meters actually dance, stay out of the red, and then turn up the output to make up any loss of volume. The result will sound more natural and ten years from now you won't cringe when you listen back.