IF you only watch one guitar video this year, watch this one! It’s full of tone geekery and awesome blues and funk licks. I didn’t know Kirk Fletcher before watching, what a player!
Angel Vivaldi unleashed an incredible playthrough video of latest track “Adrenaline” off new album SYNAPSE last week. The album’s opener features all of the incredible guitar work that you’ve come to expect from Vivaldi and includes a solo from the equally talented Julian Cifuentes.
Sure to turn the heads of his gear obsessed fans, Vivaldi is rocking a prototype of his seven-string signature Charvel that features an inverted Strat headstock, 24 frets and gold hardware
If you want to know more about the new axe, be sure to check out the behind-the-scenes demo below.
Subscribe to Vivaldi’s YouTube channel by CLICKING HERE.
As many of you know, my current main guitar is a Kiesel Vader V7. I love that little thing! It’s very comfortable to play and sonically very flexible. Kiesel has now followed up the Vader design with the Zeus, a slightly Telecaster-esque outline which addresses my one complaint about the Vader: that sometimes the way I rest the guitar on my leg interferes with the tuners at the back. And it’s not just a Vader with a different outline: the Zeus is bolt-on whereas Vader is a neck-through guitar, so the sound will be a little different. It’s available in 6, 7 and 8-string standard and multiscale, or 4, 5 and 6-string bass. You can learn more about the Zeus here and in the video below.
Roger Mayer is the Father of the Fuzz. Oracle of the Octavia. His early effects for the likes of Jimi Hendrix, Jeff Beck and Jimmy Page changed the way we listen to and play guitar, and he’s still making great gear today. Join us for a chat about why analog is superior to digital, what it was like to work with Jimi Hendrix, and the emotion-heightening impact of a well-placed effect.
Listen to it on iTunes here, in the embedded player below, or in the podcast catcher of your choice. Let me know if you need me to add it to any podcast services that you’re not finding it on yet!
Be sure to visit Roger’s website at roger-mayer.co.uk.
If you’d like to help support I Heart Guitar, visit patreon.com/iheartguitar to support the podcast and gain access to subscriber-exclusive episodes, or donate to PayPal.Me/iheartguitar
We took advantage of free introductory classes in cross-country skiing offered at Ponderosa State Park near McCall, Idaho. Splendid instruction, and, after years of snowshoeing, nice to be able to slide about. We did ok on the classic cross-country class, fell a few times during the skate-ski class, and got up just as often.
My wife doing the no-pole shuffle --
She got a very brief video of me not falling down.
A light snow amount so far this year. Usually Payette Lake is frozen over, and we're out walking on it in our snowshoes, other folks out there ice-fishing. Not so this year. Hoping for more snow and cold temperatures to come soon.
This is a violin top I made a couple years ago. It was on a Guarneri del Gesu inspired violin I was making, and in the spirit of Paganini's del Gesu, "il Cannone", I left the plates thick. An experiment.
As I was carving it, I uncovered a small branch in the lower bout, treble side. Very frustrating to find it at that point in the process. I did learn to look for the tell-tale sign, the cross-section of a branch on the outer edge.
Flustered but not defeated, I continued carving, being careful around the rapidly changing grain. I managed to get under it, without much distortion to the arching. The weird grain was still there, and I grew to like it somewhat. It did bother me, wondering what sort of sonic impact it would have.
So then I went on. Here it is at the point in time we'll call "X" with my Brothers Amati plate underneath. I like to build two at a time.
So I finished both of them, strung them up. The Brothers Amati I liked. The del Gesu I hated. Give it a couple weeks to stretch and compress. Still hated it. No volume, unpleasant tone. Ok, it was an experiment, heavy plates. And there was that weird branch grain. Maybe it was to blame. So I pulled the top and thinned it down. Put it back together. Now it was louder, but still an unpleasant tone. Matters were worse.
Took it to a show in Portland, Oregon. Folks played it. Other makers played it. Most didn't mind it too much, but generally a polite bunch. It didn't sell, but not many violins sell there in a good year.
Moved the soundpost around a bit. Made a new soundpost. Still hated it.
I pulled the top again. Thinned the top more. Thinned the back. Put it together and strung it up. Now it was even louder, still hated the tone. Nasal, maybe, though with a head cold or bad allergy. Bad diction. Like listening to someone with a loud, sloppy voice, telling boring, long-winded stories.
Was it the branch grain? Nothing I did seemed to help.
Took it to Weiser. Folks played it. Some were complimentary. It didn't sell. Not much did that year at Weiser, either. Still, I hated it.
Brad Holst, a fellow violin repairer from Medford, Oregon, was there, had put a few of his violins on the table at my temporary shop at the Weiser Fiddle Contest. He said: "What's the spacing between your upper eyes?" 42 mm, I answered. "Hmm, " he said. "I'd be curious to see what it measures to."
So I pulled out a tape measure, and it came out at 39 mm.
Back to "X" point in time. I laid-out the terminal holes incorrectly on that plate. Distracted by the branch, perhaps. Well, shoot. I kept the fiddle around for a couple months after that, then finally said "no" to myself. I wouldn't sell something like that. Pulled the top off, made a new one.
I still am not crazy about the tone with the new top, but I don't hate it now. I could even play it for a few weeks and maybe learn how to handle it.
I thought about keeping the old top, with its too-close eyes, in the shop as a reminder of my mistake. Then, I realized, I make new mistakes every day, so don't need some reminder hanging on the wall. I'd rather have something nice to look at.
Last night's contra band rehearsal was at my place, a cold night, snow on the ground, so we had a nice fire in the fireplace, and cleared out some old debris, including not just that top, but a top from an old factory fiddle that had been badly cracked and put back together with Gorilla (TM) Glue. That was not my repair. I tried to clean it up and put it back together, but it was too far gone, and frankly not that good of a top to begin with. So I made a new one for that old fiddle, strung it up, and it sold within a week.
Here's the old top, also on its way to the afterlife.
Life goes on. Things are created, exist for a while, then are gone, elements to be recycled into something else. Here's a photo of some bread I pulled out of the oven while writing this blog post.
Not my idea, probably an old one at that, but simple and effective. An adjustable marking gauge you can make in a few moments. Good for putting that running dent in the wood, something to cut to. The little screwhead lets allows you to get into the curves, which is nice at this point in the making.
Handy little adjustment tool, too.
Rather than look back at the year gone by, today I’m going to relate some of my hopes and goals related to making and teaching music. The trick is to take a step back and look at the big picture, what I’d like to achieve with and for my students and in my own playing. I think that for most of us, looking at any macro aspects of our lives can be daunting and I’m no different. The first thing is to be relatively sure you’re at least walking down the right path.
Based on the feedback I get from students and musician friends I know I am. Compared to a decade or so ago, I’m much more confident that I understand the needs, hopes and goals of my students. It’s more apparent than ever that my techniques of totally personalized instruction based on plenty of lesson planning is the way to go rather than relying on standardized by-the-book methods. I can’t deny that this is a big, time-consuming challenge pretty much every week. Almost all my students are adults and while a routinized guitar method might work with kids, who need well defined structure and goals, adults who are recreational players and doing it for their own enjoyment above all else need to be handled differently.
One of my goals this coming year is to concentrate a bit more on theory and ear-training with my experienced adult students. I’ve always done this to a certain extent but with an unlimited amount of information about songs and the styles of particular musicians available on-line this needs to be higher on my priority list. Why? Because lots of the information out there is either incomplete or outright wrong. I plan to push those more experienced students a bit harder to do more exploring on-line of their favorite players and style of music. My job will be to help them weed through what they find (songs, chord sequences, rhythms, etc.) and teach them to compare what they hear to what is on their computer screen. That’s what I do in some cases. Usually I can figure out songs by ear and boil them down to a guitar part that is as accurate as possible and close to the original recording. Much of this comes from many decades of experience of course but my plan is to spend more time helping them recognize the subtleties of a song and how to incorporate those things in their playing.
There’s a bit of irony here. If I do my job well, they should need me less and less. But that’s OK. I’ve always felt that I’m something like the captain of a ship and when that ship reaches its destination the captain shouldn’t be needed anymore. Not a good plan from a business perspective but a good captain feels satisfaction when the ship is safely moored and that’s good enough for me.
Another goal is to work a bit harder on stretching the minds of certain students in terms of the music they like. This is harder than it might sound and is especially true of much older and young students who often have pretty entrenched ideas about what constitutes “good” music. I get great joy from turning someone on to an artist or even a style of music that held no appeal to them previously. One of the things I’ve always told students at their very first lesson is that I will do my best to teach them the type of music they enjoy – but they must also keep an open mind. Depending upon the personality of a student this may be a challenge. On rare occasions, it even comes to the point that someone is so entrenched in their musical tastes that a wall is finally reached. I have one or two students right now who are just about at that point and part of this particular goal I have on my mind is to be less sensitive to what they may think of me both professionally and personally if I have to let them go. This is one of those “macro” things I mentioned in the beginning. Sometimes it’s best to stifle one’s ego and just do the right thing. But again, from a purely business perspective, this is not very smart! Whenever I’ve had to do this in the past however I never just put them out to sea, using another ship captain analogy. I always suggest they do their own research about the style they are most interested in, or take a workshop or guitar class in their particular style that are sometimes offered at places like the Music Emporium in Lexington, MA (a great store, by the way), or even….gulp….seek out another teacher.
The bottom line in that is I know that I’m doing the right thing and hopefully, sooner or later, the student will too.
Something that I definitely need to improve upon this year is developing and/or adapting techniques for left-handed students. I don’t see a lot of them but right now I have two lefties and spend more time than usual on weekly lesson plans for them. I know of a couple guitar teachers here on the Cape who will not even accept left-handed students because of the lack of texts for them. I wouldn’t do that but there’s no question I need to work on my teaching techniques in this regard. The worst thing is to force a lefty to learn right-handed technique. I have a student who has been with me for quite a few years who never told me she was left-handed until about a year into lessons. Huge mistake. She struggles mightily with finger-picking because of this and it was really too late to start all over again. Lesson learned. By me.
Finally, for my own improvement I intend to force myself into a more consistent practice regimen. Between my weekly gig at the Daily Brew, which I have been doing for seven years now, lesson planning (4 – 6 hours every weekend) and teaching about 5 hours a day, four days a week, it’s just really tough to get motivated to push all those things out of my mind and just PLAY. I have a somewhat depressing mental list of major weaknesses in my playing that need to be addressed sooner rather than later. I’m not getting any younger and the first hints of arthritis have begun to appear, something which is a curse of my Bourque genetic makeup. But so far, it hasn’t affected me all that much and I know I’m playing better right now than I have for my entire life. Just do it, Gene.
I hope you have a joyful and satisfying 2018. Treasure your time with family and friends, and see as much as you can of our world. Then pick up your guitar and let the things you learned and felt at those times come out.
Peace & good music,
I’m currently in the throes of a good old-fashioned riggin’. You may not be able to tell much from the pic but this is kind of my dream rig. Lemme explain how it will work.
First up, the heart of my tone is the Marshall DSL50 JCM2000. I love these amps because they’re totally no-bullshit: they put out whatever you put into them, putting that legendary Marshall stamp upon it in the process while remaining very faithful to your playing dynamics and phrasing where some amps mush all that stuff together. I usually stick to the Lead channel (in its Classic mode instead of the higher-gain, scooped-mid ‘Ultra’ mode) with the gain control at around 6.
I sometimes use other pedals to get a little more grrr out of the DSL50 though. My favourite pedal for this is the Seymour Duncan Pickup Booster, which can be set to give you a simple gain boost but can also perform some basic but very powerful tone-shaping tricks via a switch that boosts or cuts the treble. Hit the treble cut and you’ll get a slightly rounder, more vocal-sounding tone.
Other pedals in my signal chain include a Jim Dunlop Buddy Guy Crybaby Wah, a BOSS OC-2 Octave and a Jim Dunlop KFK Q-Zone. And I have a Line 6 Relay G30 wireless and a Planet Waves tuner.
But here’s where it gets complicated/fun: I’m sending the signal from the Marshall into the Mesa Cab Clone – a load box and speaker simulator – and then sending that sound into a trio of stereo Seymour Duncan pedals: the Catalina Dynamic Chorus, the Shape Shifter Stereo Tremolo, and the Andromeda Dynamic Delay. The output from the last of those pedals goes into the stereo inputs of the Seymour Duncan PowerStage 700 power amp, which then plugs into my Marshall cabinet’s left and right speaker inputs. I can then use the PowerStage’s three-band EQ to further shape the sound. This setup also allows me dial in exactly the perfect amount of power tube distortion at any volume, because I can set the amp volume wherever I like for the best tone for whatever musical situation I’m in, then use the PowerStage volume control to set the final level.
Another bonus of this setup is that the Cab Clone has a Thru output which means I can send a dry signal to another cabinet. Actually what I’d love to do if I had the cash is to get a pair of Marshall 2×12 (or 4×12) cabinets and have those be my left and right effect cabs powered by the PowerStage.
I love this nerdy stuff.
I like everything about this, but especially the way she lets the guitar sing.
Not to the final borders yet, but looking more like fiddles. A little spit on the end-grain of the spruce sure can make cutting easier. Plus, cutting spruce just smells like Christmas. Not sure what the maple smell reminds me of, but I like cutting the edges on the maple. Smooth and buttery.
Trying to snow outside my door now. Will warm up some nice drink and relax for the evening. Enjoy your holidays.