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Gibson Custom Collector’s Choice™ #18 1960 Les Paul "Dutchburst"

Gibson Electric Guitars - Thu, 04/17/2014 - 09:22
Collector’s Choice™ #18 1960 Les Paul "Dutchburst"Collector’s Choice™ #18 brings to life a rare 1960 Les Paul Standard special ordered in a Dark Burst finish, a guitar that spent its time with one hard-working musician until its eventual sale to its second owner in 2012.
Categories: Manufacturers

Steve Howe of Yes – Inventor of Musical Possibilities

Guitar International - Thu, 04/17/2014 - 06:28

By: Robert Cavuoto

FragileYes is about to embark on a 35-date summer tour that will have them performing–in their entirety–1971’s groundbreaking album Fragile or the first-time ever and a repeat performance from last year’s tour of 1972’s Close to the Edge, followed by an encore of the band’s greatest hits.

During the encore the band promises to debut material off then long awaited new CD Heaven and Earth due out July 8th just in time for the tour. Yes was founded in 1968 and though out their career they have created some of the most important and influential music in rock history, such as iconic pieces “Roundabout,” “Close to the Edge,” “I’ve Seen All Good People,” “Owner of a Lonely Heart,” and countless others. Having sold over 50 million records over its forty-six-year career, Yes continues creating masterful music that inspires fans and musicians from around the world.

I had the pleasure of speaking with the guitar legend Steve Howe about the new tour, the upcoming new CD and how his playing and the band have evolved over the last 46 years!


Robert Cavuoto: I’m excited to hear that Yes is going out to play two of the fan’s favorite albums.

Steve Howe: We’re doing Fragile and Close to the Edge. We’ve dropped Going for the One from last summer and replaced it with a selection of songs and a new song from our new CD, Heaven and Earth. We think two albums and a selection of songs is going to work better for the summer than three albums. It just gives it a little more flexibility in the way of introducing a song from the new album.

Robert: At what point in your career did you realize the significance of these two albums and the band’s unique sound?

Steve Howe: There was an instant realization, because of their success. Fragile was just enormous; that was our first really big album and soon we started delivering records that Atlantic said went gold on release. We obviously realized we were doing something right and weren’t doing too many things wrong. When I formed Asia after a 10-year run with Yes, I got to a point where I didn’t want to keep replacing members. I’d done that for 10 years with keeping Yes together and it didn’t hold any interest for me.

That fell apart reasonably rapidly, due to the usual thing that comes into play with bands, certainly when they’ve been successful, a bit of over indulgence and craziness. I thought I’ll form GTR, and we did. But when Anderson Bruford Wakeman Howe [ABWH] happened, I realized that although Chris wasn’t there, and we had the wonderful Tony Levin. That was the first chance for me to take stock of what Yes was about and look at the music retrospectively.

We played Philadelphia on the ABWH tour in ’89. We played “And You and I,” and something amazing happened when we finished the song, and they didn’t stop clapping for nearly 15 minutes. I used to leave the stage at that point and take a break for somebody else to do a solo spot. I couldn’t leave the stage I was glued to the floor as these people roared and cheered. I realized that even without Chris, bless him, at that point, there can be a combination of people who can go on and play a song that totally cause the show to stop. The show stopped in its tracks, and that’s when I think I got a perspective, which I hadn’t had during my period with Asia and GTR. So you kind of have to go back to it to re-evaluate it.

Robert: I imagine the way that these songs were recorded 40+ years ago have evolved as you play them live for so long. Do you find that’s to be the case or do you play them note for note?

SteveHoweSteve Howe: Let’s just loosely go through the plot. We make a recording; we go out in the 70s and played those recordings and we’re quite unaware of how much we rocked up everything. It was faster; there was more distortion; there was not the level of detail in the way that we’re interested in doing the songs now. Once Union came along and I rejoined Yes in 1995 that’s when detail became a new issue; “Hang on; we’re not playing that like the record.”

So when you come forward to now, when we’re doing the album we seem more fanatical about things, we try to take out the bits that aren’t in the record. We still allow each other a certain amount of freedom though. I know there’s something around the middle of Close to the Edge that Chris plays that’s not on the record. I could say, “That’s not on the record; don’t play it Chris,” but we give each other a bit of head room to do some of those things, without it being an issue.

So, in fact, we’ve brought back detail when we weren’t even aware we lost it. We’ve reinvented the level of detail that we expect, but it’s not 100%; it’s never gonna be. There are some things that even one key change we will never do the same, because nobody can ever sing it the way we recorded it. But there are certain things – like this ending – you have to have an ending to a song. [laughter] It’s no joke that we’ve taken it as far as we enjoy taking it, and, in a way, we don’t want to take it any further. But it’s quite a considerable amount of detail, certainly more than any other cover band or any member of Yes, who goes out and plays Yes songs has ever balked at?. We are the detail specialists, without doubt.


Robert: You talked a little bit about how the songs have evolved, how has the band changed since the ‘70s? How has the tone, the mood, the strength, the energy of the band changed?

Steve Howe: It’s not easy. [laughter] The band is a makeup of [A.] many different personalities and [B.] the music. It’s run in a whole different way. That, in a way, does inspire a different sense of freedom within the band, because there may have been people in the band, and I say may have been people in the band who thought they were the leaders, but there is no single leader to Yes. We don’t take orders from one person, and we won’t. We refuse to, because we are a shared – not totally democratic – but along the lines of a democratic idea. There are people who’ve got a lot of ideas and some members have fewer ideas. Those people with fewer ideas are happy to agree to whatever the best ideas come forward from other members. So we’re all weak at times and we’re all strong at times. I think that’s what’s different about the band; we openly acknowledge that. There is no room for the kind of egos that might have flowered like in the ‘70s – almost to strangle the group. That happened later on and throughout our career. So the group is a lot more controlled and the way we run it with our manager/tour manager. And we’re lucky to not need a whole office load of people to run this group. We don’t run a small empire just running like Apple did with the Beatles, like many groups have when they’re with a big agent or manager. They’ve got all this office staff; we don’t have any of that. It’s a very streamlined, sensible operation, but internally, its a million miles away from anything it was before. I’m glad of that because if anything, it would be absolutely tedious if it was the same. We have some of the same issues, the same problems of how the group runs, how it makes decisions of what we do. Those are our constant problems. But that’s the same for any business, and after all, our business is music and you’re not supposed to use the word “business” in the same sentence. But it is a business and we are determined to survive through it. We don’t do anything else. I was in Asia and I do solo jobs and the trio, but, basically, Yes has been a big part of my career. It’s the reason why I’m successful. That requires me to give a certain amount; but it also requires me to take a certain amount. As long as that give-and-take is a good thing; but it’s nothing like the band. It’s not so crazy or bent out of shape but it can have problems and almost grind to a halt. So things haven’t changed beyond recognition, but it’s a different animal.

Click here to view the embedded video.

YES – 1973 – Roundabout

Robert: Are there any songs that you look forward to performing live off these two albums?

Steve Howe:  Well, Close to the Edge is a very powerful record. There’s nothing on there I don’t like playing and there’s only three songs. [laughter] That makes it easier. Fragile – “The South Side of the Sky” was one of the last songs we added to that album. We did most of it in the studio. We didn’t really rehearse that song, and yet, that’s got a lot of charm about it. I like the way that it’s kind of a black and white song. It’s got a rock part, but the other part is very, very pretty and a kind of gentle piece. I think that’s what we do in Yes. We marry ClosetoEdgedifferent styles together, and if we didn’t, it would be quite boring. So I’m glad on “South Side” we did that. It’s quite expansive; it can take improvisation. It’s also got structures from my pre-Yes life, I don’t know if you knew but some of that came from a song called “The Ghost of Never Street,” which many people don’t know anything about. The group folded, and the tapes were lost and buried. Then, due to certain events, I re-released them in 78, because I wanted to pay tribute to what that band was about. That was called The Bodast Tapes. So there was an element of that on Fragile too. There were some bits of music and guitar riffs that came from an earlier incarnation that I thought was never going to come out. I think it’s a wealthy record in musicality. Fragile is something that if you put on headphones, it really is something to listen to. Most probably the high spot is really “Roundabout.” It’s a song we played as an encore for years, and then I started saying, “Please, don’t let’s play this like an encore.” If we play at the    encore we try to play it with the precision it needs and not just burn it away, not just rock it away. That took some bringing back detail.

Robert: You’re a legendary guitarist from playing with Yes to Asia to GTR. How do you evolve and grow as a player yet consistently maintain your unique style?

Steve Howe:  I don’t know, really, I don’t necessarily think about it on that level. I think of it as one long thing going right the way through it all – which is just me as a guitarist. Whether it’s Yes, or Asia, or the trio, or solo, I’m backing partly the same thing but I’m always looking to not be stylistically similar. I don’t have to work at that very hard. It comes to natural to me. When I’ve written songs I think of them in terms of whether they might run with Yes or whether it might be a trio piece, or whether, in fact, I’d prefer to play it as a solo guitar piece. I’ve got that choice, which is really the thing that drives my sensation, the  freedom in my life; I couldn’t be doing this if I wasn’t a free person. People like my wife have helped to make me feel free, even though we love each other, we’re married, and we’ve had kids together, I still feel free. I think my wife understands why that is or how that is, or how she’s helped to make me feel free. It’s because I need that spirit in my music. That means when I pick up a guitar and I’m doing a solo show, I know what to do. It is the same with Yes. When I’m recording with Yes, I know I need a batch of guitars. I can walk in the studio with no idea what I’m going to play, plug in and start playing. That’s partly because I think I’ve never really learned to play music, in an academic sense, so I can improvise. That’s the key to my whole love of music, even though a lot of things I like aren’t improvised, I do feed off the improvisational ability I have. But also that helps me to structure music, because I start by improvising, then I structure the improvisation. It’s not one thing or the other; I wouldn’t be here, talking to you today if I didn’t see both polarities as being a bit like Heaven and Earth. The one is a very practical, realistic, “Oh, I play the guitar; I’ve got fingers this long and this many guitars with six strings. That’s earthbound, because it’s all about physical restrictions or possibilities. Heaven is like freedom. It’s like the yin and yang of life, something that we don’t even know if it exists. It isn’t necessarily in one place. It might be all over the universe. I’m not just a musician. I have interests and some of them lie with cars or models or quantum physics. I’m interested in stuff that not everybody is interested in, thank God. I m not a conformist; I’m a revolutionary. That’s the way I like to think of myself, as an inventor, not necessarily of objects, but of possibilities in music. One of my great inspirations recently has been Vladimir Ashkenazy, who plays Bach on the piano. I heard it and said, “This is it; this is it.” It is the most ultimate music you can possibly hear. I don’t know whether it goes further than this, but hopefully it does.

Click here to view the embedded video.

Robert: You said you were going to be putting out a new Yes CD. Can you tell us a little bit about it?

Steve Howe:  Heaven and Earth is a very fresh and collaborative record. We only started it in January. We spent quite a while preparing the material. I was trying to put the brakes on everyone saying, “We’ve just not ready to start; let’s get ready. Let’s have a lot of material.”

In the end we had plenty of material; we had more than we needed, which was really what I wanted. There are songs written by Jon and me, Chris and Jon, and Geoff and Jon. There are songs by us individually as well. Basically, we didn’t know what the album would be like. The title is quite a visionary title because of the two plains – the one of physical reality or restrictions of what you can do or the limits within which you work. But the emotional or spiritual experience has nothing to do with physical.

It’s not such a predictable album, “Oh, yeah, they did an album like that.” It’s not like that. It’s quite representative of the way that Yes has been evolving. It gives Jon Davison a chance to feed off the idea he had in his mind. His hope was that he would visit all of us, which he did, and collaborate in different degrees with different members. So I hope it’s going to be quite an enjoyed album. I hope it can also mainly satisfy the people who already like us. I’m not one of those dreamers who imagines that everybody 18-years-old is going to go out and buy the new Yes album. They’ve got their own interests, but, hopefully, this record isn’t irrelevant. And we’d like it to be heard more than Fly From Here, even though it did very well and was a strong record. We hope, that we might make an impression on the music business in some way with our particular recipe which has been reinvented. I think it’s unlike a Yes record but carries enough trademarks to be recognized.

Categories: Classical

Fargen Releases Demo Video for High Gain Amps

I Heart Guitar - Thu, 04/17/2014 - 03:59

Ben Fargen, founder of Fargen Amplification in Sacramento, California has created a demonstration video in response to consumer requests. After the initial launch of the High Gain Anniversary amps at NAMM, inquiries came pouring in wanting to know more. Here, Ben Fargen demonstrates the versatility of the new amp. There are no pedals in the signal chain, just the amp and a small collection of guitars to demonstrate what can be achieved.

About Fargen Amplification
Fargen Amplification was founded in 1998 by Ben Fargen, known as one of the most innovative engineers and visionaries in the guitar amplifier industry. He developed Fargen Amplification as a boutique amp manufacturer, and introduced the Sonic Edge brand in 2010. Through its extensive dealer network spanning twenty-one countries, Fargen ships custom-built and production model amplifiers and effect pedals to discerning players across the globe. Fargen also provides world tour and studio amp support to many of the world’s most celebrated guitarists including Joe Satriani and Steve Vai. www.fargenamps.com

Categories: General Interest

Unknown 1960s four-pickup leftie guitar - Can anyone help identify?

Guitarz - Wed, 04/16/2014 - 14:43
This 1960s four-pickup leftie solidbody guitar looks in need of a little TLC and a renovation! But what is it? Does anyone out there recognise it? My thinking is that it is probably Japanese, but I'm going mainly by the headstock shape which does seem strangely familiar. The finish on the front of the guitar and the face of the headstock has been stripped. I'm wondering if it may have had some kind of plastic/celluloid coating - could those strange marks on the stripped surface be where it was glued?

Currently being auctioned on eBay with bidding at US $109.26 at the time of writing.

G L Wilson

© 2014, Guitarz - The Original Guitar Blog - the blog that goes all the way to 11!
Please read our photo and content policy.
Categories: General Interest

Taylor Guitars Announces the Ultimate Custom Taylor Sweepstakes

Guitar International - Wed, 04/16/2014 - 10:48

Press Release

Source: Taylor Guitars

TaylorTo celebrate 40 years of crafting exceptional guitars, Taylor Guitars has teamed with Ultimate Ears, the leader in custom in-ear monitors used by musicians around the globe, to offer one lucky fan the chance of a lifetime: to build their own custom Taylor guitar at the Taylor Guitars factory in Southern California, matched with special edition custom in-ear monitors from Ultimate Ears, adorned with ebony wood supplied by Taylor.

The winner of the Ultimate Custom Taylor Sweepstakes and a guest will experience the intricacies of Taylor’s guitar-building processes through an exclusive behind-the-scenes factory tour, work with Taylor’s custom guitar experts to select wood for their custom guitar, and enjoy a meet-and-greet with company co-founder Bob Taylor.

The sweepstakes prize package also includes roundtrip airfare and accommodations in San Diego, Taylor and Ultimate Ears merchandise, and a visit to Ultimate Ears in Irvine, Calif. One runner-up will receive a pack of Ultimate Ears 900s Noise-Isolating Earphones and a prize pack featuring Taylor Guitars and Ultimate Ears merchandise.

Now through June 10, fans can enter-to-win by visiting the Taylor Guitars website at www.taylorguitars.com/promotions/ultimate-taylor.

For a complete list of rules and regulations, please visit www.taylorguitars.com/promotions/ultimate-taylor

For additional news from Taylor Guitars, go HERE.



Categories: Classical

Gibson Custom Joe Bonamassa "Skinnerburst" '59 Les Paul

Gibson Electric Guitars - Wed, 04/16/2014 - 04:05
Following a long-coming collaboration between Joe and Gibson Custom, we are delighted to present “Skinnerburst,” a detail-perfect recreation of what is possibly the hardest working 1959 Les Paul in the world today.
Categories: Manufacturers

Dean Z-X Fake leopard fur fabric-covered Explorer

Guitarz - Tue, 04/15/2014 - 13:35
Some crazy crazy dude - very possibly inspired by ZZ Top - has covered this Dean Z-X Explorer type guitar in fake leopard fur fabric. Need I comment any more? Other than to say that I hope whoever plays this guitar doesn't get too hot and sweaty on stage as it could end up being really stinky, and it's not like you can just bung it in the washing machine.

Currently listed on eBay with a Buy It Now price of US $475.

Thanks to Tony E for bringing this guitar to my attention.

G L Wilson

© 2014, Guitarz - The Original Guitar Blog - the blog that goes all the way to 11!
Please read our photo and content policy.
Categories: General Interest

Eric Johnson and Provogue/Mascot Label Group to Release Europe Live on June 24th

Guitar International - Tue, 04/15/2014 - 08:37

Press Release

Source: SKH Music

ejtMascot Label Group’s Provogue Records and Eric Johnson announce a June 24 release date for Europe Live.  Guitar Player Magazine cited Johnson as “one of the most respected guitarists on the planet,” and the reasons why are many. Such primary ones as the lyrical beauty of his playing and compositions, his rich and colorfully broad palette of tones, his awesome instrumental agility, breadth and command, and the mesmerizing spell he summons up in concert.  All of these qualities can be heard on his new album, Europe Live.

The in-concert collection’s 14 tracks draw from throughout Johnson’s career and include two new compositions: The mesmeric “Intro” that opens the set, and the rollicking rocker “Evinrude Fever” (that alludes to his love for water skiing and boating). His Grammy-winning instrumental “Cliffs of Dover” and Grammy nominated “Zap” are performed with fresh and vigorous energy, and he shows his ever-deepening skills as a singer on such numbers as his soaring, blues-tinged salute to his hometown, “Austin,” and the airy and glistening “40 Mile Town.”

Johnson’s lifelong love of jazz and more recent forays into playing it emerges on his stunning nine-and-a-half minute interpretation of John Coltrane’s “Mr. P.C.” on which bassist Chris Maresh and drummer Wayne Salzmann also step out with power. The song selection ranges from an acoustic guitar rendition of “A Song For Life” which he initially cut on his debut studio album to the ferociously funky “Fatdaddy” from his most recent release, Up Close.  Johnson celebrates his side-project Alien Love Child with the hard-driving rock workout “Zenland,” and the eleven-and-a-half minute multimodal suite “Last House On The Block.” Originally released in 1996, the fan favorite “Manhattan” shines, while a gloriously cinematic rearrangement of “When the Sun Meets the Sky,” titled “Sun Reprise” closes the set.

Europe Live was recorded in venues across Johnson’s tour of the continent, with the majority of the album capturing his appearance at Amsterdam’s Melkweg along with selections from  two dates in Germany at Die Kantine in Köln  and Bochum Zeche and the Paris show at New Morning.  Each appearance featured a unique set list, offering Johnson the opportunity to cull this track listing from a wealth of repertoire captured.

Although he may be best known as the masterful studio craftsman behind his acclaimed million-plus selling breakout 1990 album Ah Via Musicom and its Top 10 hit “Cliffs of Dover,” Johnson first made his musical bones and sparked a potent buzz in live performance from the late 1960s to the mid 1980s long before he ever issued an album and was heard on radio. As guitar legend Johnny Winter recalls of seeing Johnson perform back then, “When I first heard Eric, he was only 16, and I remember wishing that I could have played like that at that age.”

Over his seven studio albums, Johnson has delivered three Top 10 hits (“Cliffs of Dover,” “Trademark” and “Righteous”) and two Top 40 singles (“Pavilion” and “High Landrons”).  N.A.R.A.S. has celebrated his career with six Grammy nominations, while periodicals in the music space have honored with him for decades.  He is enshrined in Guitar Player magazine’s “Gallery of Greats,” while Musician Magazine named him one of the 100 Greatest Guitarists of the 20th Century.  He continues to refine and expand his musical brilliance in his own electric and acoustic tours (playing both guitar and piano), and his recent live collaborations on both electric guitar with jazz player Mike Stern and slide master Sonny Landreth.  Johnson is a frequent featured artist on the Experience Hendrix tours, as well as acoustic excursions with  the likes of Andy McKee and Peppino D’Agostino.

Johnson offers, “Working on this live record was kind of an epiphany for me because I realized that this is where it’s at, no matter where you’re playing, it should be a performance.  The more I do that the more I realize, wow, there’s something special there. I’m enjoying playing more now because I am so committed to making sure that facet is really up front, one of the number one things. And I’ve been doing it in the studio when people send me tracks to play on, and I say, okay, hit record, and let’s just do this all the way through. And I listen back and go, wow, that’s just more interesting and enjoyable to listen to.”

Avidly collaborative, Johnson first started recording with others in the 1980s on sessions for Cat Stevens, Christopher Cross and Carole King, and has since recorded and/or performed with Rodney Crowell, Richard Marx, Jennifer Warnes, Carla Olson, Chet Atkins, B.B. King,  James Burton, Steve Miller, Jerry Reed, Steve Vai and Joe Satriani (on the original G3 tour), John McLaughlin, Jimmie Vaughan, Sonny Landreth, Dweezil Zappa and Adrian Legg, and many more. He has paid homage in song to such players as Jerry Reed (“Tribute to Jerry Reed” on Bloom), fellow Texan Stevie Ray Vaughan (the Grammy-nominated track “SRV”) and Wes Montgomery (who Johnson saluted in his Ah Via Musicom composition “East Wes”).

Throughout his career he has consistently won and placed high in numerous readers and critic polls conducted by guitar publications, most recently in 2010 when he was named Guitarist of the Year by Guitar International. Eric has also won more Austin Music Awards (33) than anyone else since they began in 1981, including Musician of the Year and Best Electric & Acoustic Guitarist plus Best Instrumental & Video, and was inducted into the Texas Music Hall of Fame in its first year in 1983.

He follows Europe Live with an album with his friend and fellow guitarist Mike Stern and is composing and recording tracks for both a new electric album as well as his first acoustic guitar release. Additionally, Johnson has embraced the digital age, releasing tracks via his site www.ericjohnson.com.  Currently, songs that include “To Whom It May Concern,” “Imagination Of You – A Tribute To George Harrison” (featuring Christopher Cross) and his rendition of “The Wind Cries Mary” are available.  Johnson offers, “The Internet is a creative vehicle to get artist’s music heard and level the playing field.  There is no barrier between the creative process and those compositions created reaching the fan.”   Johnson continues to reach further and higher as a player, songwriter and singer, and considers being rated one of the greatest at his talents as simply a springboard to new levels of artistry and listener appeal.


Categories: Classical

Dutch Kazoo Fuzz

Guitar Tone Overload - Tue, 04/15/2014 - 03:12

Despite its name, it does not come from the Netherlands, the Dutch Kazoo fuzz is hand built in the USA. Its design is not a copy of any well known Fuzz pedal which is quite noteworthy in a market saturated by Fuzz face clones.

It does appear to have some interesting and original sonic capabilities.

Here is a little demo (or click here for the obligatory Gearmanndude demo):

Categories: General Interest

Seymour Duncan Releases 7/8-String Black Winter

I Heart Guitar - Mon, 04/14/2014 - 16:30

You asked for it, you got it: Seymour Duncan has launched new 7 and 8-string versions of the Black Winter, the aggressively brootals humbucker set originally designed for extreme metal players of Scandinavia who were looking for more aggression without sacrificing definition and clarity. After consistently being asked to make this pickup available for the rest of the world, Seymour Duncan did so. Now, after being consistently asked to make it available for extended range guitars, here it is! You’ll now be able to get all the heavy saturation, articulation and aggression of the Black Winter in your 6, 7 or 8 string axe.

Black Winter’s look matches its dark intentions: a black bottom plate, black pole pieces and screws, blood red wire, and the Seymour Duncan logo in Old English font. Black Winter 6, 7 and 8 string versions are available in either a bridge or neck version or in a complete calibrated set.

For more information, visit: seymourduncan.com


Categories: General Interest

Monday Music Round Up- 4/14/14

The Martin Guitar Blog - Mon, 04/14/2014 - 09:38

Martin Ambassador Ed Sheeran Makes SNL Debut

Ed Sheeran will  his musical debut on Saturday Night Live this week. He performed his new single “SING” and debuted the track “Don’t”. You can check out his performance here.

You can also preorder his new album “MULTIPY”  here. The album will be released June 23rd worldwide.


 Martin Ambassadors Perform at ACM Awards

Hunter Hayes performed his new hit single, “Invisible,” off of his upcoming album at the ACM Awards. You can watch the performance here.

Dierks Bentley and Sheryl Crow also got the crowd to their feet during a performance of Bentley’s hit “I Hold On” at the 2014 ACM Awards on Sunday night. Watch the duet here.

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Martin Ambassador Jason Isbell Under The Radar Interview

Jason Isbell spoke to UTR from his Tennessee home about writing sober and his musical roots. Read the interview here.



Lennon Stella Plays Martin on ABC’s Nashville

Lennon Stella, who plays Maddie Conrad on the ABC’s Nashville, played her Martin on last week’s episode.



Categories: Manufacturers

Kendall Schmidt of Heffron Drive – An Introspective Look into Parallel!

Guitar International - Mon, 04/14/2014 - 04:40

By: Robert Cavuoto


Kendall Schmidt – photo by Rob Cavuoto

Kendall Schmidt, star of Nickelodeon’s hit television series, Big Time Rush, has just released his first single; “Parallel” from his new band Heffron Drive with guitarist Dustin Belt.

Heffron Drive is a young band building on something big and showcasing their versatility as diverse musicians and entertainers.

Kendall and Dustin exemplifies a new model of musician-as-entrepreneur, controlling his own career path by independently releasing his single. With the help of TuneCore’s comprehensive platform for Music Distribution, Heffron Drive will get their music heard around the world.

In my interview with Kendall, he explains to me how personal this new song is to him and his strategy for testing the water with singles before releasing a full length CD.


Robert Cavuoto: Congrats on the release of your new single, “Parallel”, it’s a great song. How is it doing on the charts for its first day?

Kendall Schmidt: Thank you, I appreciate that. It is somewhere around 25 on the pop charts, which is really great for not having that much promotion behind it. It will be cool to see what happens when it’s starting to get ads on the radio.

Robert: It sounds like a very personal song. Tell me a little about how it came about?

Kendall Schmidt: Yeah, it’s definitely personal. There are two experiences that I can think of where the lyrics were being drawn from. There are a lot of people on the planet, and sometimes they get along well, yet at other times it can be difficult.  The song talks about the possibilities when the stars do align, and everything comes together for one shot at love to take place.

Robert: I saw you play at Webster Hall in December 2013, I don’t recall you playing this “Parallel”.

Kendall Schmidt: I didn’t play it at all during this last tour. For me, it was just trying to decide what I thought would be a great for a first foot in the door for people to hear something different from me. A song that sounds like me and not everyone else. It definitely took some time, but I thought that this was the closest one.

Robert: You mentioned to me that you had a lot of demos created before joining Big Time Rush. Was this something new or is this something that already existed?

HeffronDriveKendall Schmidt: I can’t remember exactly when I wrote it but it’s definitely within the last five months.

Robert: Why tease the fans with just one song? I think everybody’s waiting for a CD.

Kendall Schmidt: That’s another good question. I wanted to see what the reaction would be. I wanted to see what people thought about this song in particular. So, I can decide what other songs I wanted to put together in a group.

Robert: I think this song really allows you to showcase a different side to your music as compared to the live show which was more rock oriented. I’m curious why a ballad?

Kendall Schmidt: I have all kinds of sides. I guess the tone of “Parallel” is sort of melancholy, coming from a melancholy place. There have been songs I’ve written when I was younger that are all reggae and Rasta.

Who knows what people react will be? I have no idea, but it was what I thought would be the most easy-to-understand representation of the kind of music that I like, and what I like to perform.

Robert: Are you planning to release more singles?

Kendall Schmidt: I suppose I could do another single and then put out a CD based on the power of the two or three singles. Obviously, the CD would be announced before the third one comes out. That’s something that I’m trying to be a little strategic about.

Robert: I feel that in the pop world it’s more common place to put out singles rather than full CDs. What are the pros and are there any cons to this?

Kendall Schmidt: I think there’s obviously both. I think a con maybe that some people just like buying CDs. Some people don’t like buying singles, maybe more “old school”? I feel like if I hear a single that I really like, I just buy the album anyway because why not? It’s probably a good CD?

But, I don’t think that’s the most common person in the world. Some kids are buying songs off gift cards with only $6.99. Getting an album for them is difficult when they can only get six songs from different artists. I think it’s a generational thing.

At least the first couple of songs I put out, I kind of figured it would be smart to do them in singles and see whatever people think about them. I can then collect my thoughts, because I have all kinds of songs. You saw my shows; it could really be anything. That’s why I don’t want them to all sound the same, but I want it to be able to have it somehow tie together – at least the first two songs.


Kendall Schmidt – photo by Robert Cavuoto

Robert: That’s an interesting perspective; I didn’t look at it like that.

Kendall Schmidt: I think it’s anyone up to maybe going to college. After that, you go to college; you have a credit card, even if you don’t have the money to pay for it, to buy an album. [Laughter]

Robert: On Twitter you changed your profile photo to the single’s artwork. Is there any significance to tying the artwork and the song together?

Kendall Schmidt: Well, I guess it’s an abstract representation of what the song is. I took that photo in Mexico and did this cool design work with an app. Then it became even more abstract. We had a high-definition version created, so it would be artwork-cover worthy.

Robert: So you’re multi-talented, doing music and art? [Laughter]

Kendall Schmidt: I got a lucky shot on the sunset. I think it represents the song being abstract and having introspective lyrics.

Robert: Tell what has been the highlight for you in reigniting Heffron Drive?

Kendall Schmidt: Today is definitely a highlight. Putting out the first song and actually seeing it for sale is really cool. I have a lot of awesome friends who helped me by tweeting about it making people aware who might not have known.

Doing the last Heffron Drive tour and playing bits of Heffron Drive songs during the Big Time Rush tour in South America was awesome. With Big Time Rush slowing down and not being 365 days; all four of us have to do something. I was like, “I want to do music; I want to play all the places that we’ve played with Big Time Rush, now with my own band.


Robert: Speaking of touring, what are your touring plans for Heffron Drive?

Kendall Schmidt: We just did a South American tour with Big Time Rush. With Heffron Drive, I think it’s just dependent on the next three months of music. I’m actually seeing if I can open for somebody. I think it would be really cool to go on a really good tour.

Robert: When we saw you at Webster Hall, you seemed really excited about playing all of your songs. Is there one song that you enjoy playing more than the others?

Kendall Schmidt: I like an older song called “Better Get to Movin’ “and “Time Wasting” which we play at the end of the set.

Robert: I really liked “One Track Mind” live.

Kendall Schmidt: “One Track Mind” is nuts live. That’s a whole different kind of thing. What makes it fun is because it’s in the middle of the set surrounded by all these acoustic songs. “One Track Mind,” is like electronic rock-step in a way. You can imagine my predicament in trying to pick which songs to put out.

Robert: When last spoke talked, we talked about guitar collection; I recently read that you picked up a new guitar? Is that true?

Kendall Schmidt: Yeah, I just got a Custom Shop Martin from GC Pro. Dude, it’s incredible. I wanted to get acoustic electric, because I like being able to plug in and not have to worry about having manual pickups put in the guitar.

Robert: What’s your prediction for James Maslow on Dancing With The Stars?

Kendall Schmidt: He doing well. He’s going to make it to the finals. I can guarantee you he’s going to work hard enough to get there. It’s a reality show; so anything could happen.

Robert: My daughter Cassandra, who you met a few times, has the last question. Which Big Time Rush CD is your favorite and why?

Kendall Schmidt: Hi Cassandra – I love 24/Seven, but Elevate is my favorite, just because the songs are really cool, and I like the artwork a lot, as well.

Categories: Classical

Comparing The BOSS Phaser Family

I Heart Guitar - Sun, 04/13/2014 - 16:18

phaseBOSS released its first three compact foot pedals in 1977: the OD-1 Overdrive, the SP-1 Spectrum (a parametric equaliser) and the PH-1 Phaser. The OD-1 is, of course, an enduring classic which paved the way for the OD-2 (1985-1994) and the current OD-3 (1997-present). The SP-1 found more favour with keyboard players than guitarists, and is highly sought after today. But BOSS’s phaser offerings have grown and evolved along the years – and along with the evolution of what phasers are expected to do. Let’s take a look at this evolution through the now-discontinued PH-1, PH-1R and PH-2 and the current PH-3.

Available from November 1977 to November 1981, the PH-1 was designed at a time when the main goal of phasers was to emulate the sound of the Hammond Leslie cabinets that were popular among organ players in the 70s (and which guitar players had been digging for a while too). The PH-1 is a simple two-knob pedal with controls for Rate and Depth, and it’s a 4-stage phaser with a 16 second to 100 millisecond range. Early phasers weren’t quite as adept at capturing the Leslie sound as players would have liked, but that didn’t really matter: guitarists took the unique sound of the phaser pedal as its own entity, and started to exploit it for its own particular merits.


The PH-1R was a four-stage phaser lie the PH-1, but it added a Resonance control to its circuit. Basically a feedback control, this gave players the ability to really crank up the ‘extreme-ness’ of the effect: they could still dial in the gentle swooshes and undulating bubbles of the PH-1, but the Resonance control allowed them to super-charge this effect and get some really outrageous tons.

In 1984 the PH-2 Super Phaser addressed the problem of “Well… actually I think I would kinda like a setting that really sounds like a Leslie…” With twelve stages of adjustment for smoother, more ‘hi-fi’ phasing, the PH-2 offered two modes: one for the standard phaser effect and other that was deeper, richer and more aggressive – perfect for the new wave sounds that were popular at the time, and the familiar Rate, Depth and Resonance controls are augmented by the two-position mode switch. The PH-2 remained in production until March 2001.

Here’s a video comparing all three of these discontinued but much-loved effects. You’ll hear how they’re all part of the same family but each traces – and defines – the evolution of the phaser effect for its place and time.

Finally we come to the PH-3, the current BOSS phaser model, introduced in October 2000. While the PH-1, PH-1R and PH-2 were all analog phasers, the PH-3 is a digital design which gives you far greater control over the characteristics of your phaser sound. There are still controls for Rate, Depth and Resonance but a seven-position rotary mode switch lets you select between 4, 8, 10 and 12-stage phases as well as Rise and Fall modes (which give you unidirectional phasing sounds – in other words, always going up or always going down and a Step mode, which applies the filter modifications in a non-linear manner. And the PH-3 has a few more tricks up its green sleeves: there’s an Expression Pedal input which gives you realtime foot control over the Rate function (giving you the ability to ‘ramp’ from a slow speed to a fast one or vice versa), while the pedal’s own effect on/off footswitch also doubles as a ‘set tempo’ switch when you press and hold it for more than two seconds.

Since the PH-3 has been on the books for over 13 years now, and continues to sell by the carload, BOSS says it might just be the highest-selling phaser ever. It’s certainly considered a worthy successor to its analog ancestors, and is capable of everything from sweet vintage tones to modern progressive metal.

Categories: General Interest

1961 Hagström Deluxe 90 in blue sparkle finish

Guitarz - Sun, 04/13/2014 - 05:11
I know we've looked at these particular glitzy celluloid-covered guitars before here on Guitarz but they don't come up for sale very often on eBay, and not only does this example currently listed have some nice clean close-up photos, but it's also one of my personal favourites and so I reckon it's worth looking at again.

To borrow from the eBay listing:
This [Hagström Deluxe 90] was made in Sweden around 1961 (batch 499). This is a sparkle and pearloid model. The top is has blue sparkle finish with the rest done in a pearloid wrap. The fretboard is acrylic. 22 frets and 23 1/4 inches scale length. Four single coil pickups and six buttons. Tremar tremolo system.

The neck is straight and it is easy to play. The guitar is all original with no restoration. The original pick holder is still on the back of the headstock. It is a lot of fun to play.  I am including a vintage case for shipping.

This is the nicest example I have seen of one of these guitars. The pearloid wrap and binding tends to shrink over time and it exhibits some minor cracks. Much less than I have seen in most examples of this guitar.
It's interesting also to note that this guitar is currently located in Arizona in the USA, yet it carries the original Hagstrom name and has not been re-branded Goya as you'd expect to see on the "American" version. No doubt it has belonged to a collector at some point.

Currently listed on eBay with a starting bid of US $949 and a Buy It Now price of US $2,200.

G L Wilson

© 2014, Guitarz - The Original Guitar Blog - the blog that goes all the way to 11!
Please read our photo and content policy.
Categories: General Interest

Strum Guitar like Justin with FourChords app

Guitar Noize - Sat, 04/12/2014 - 15:00

Press Release
FourChords, the Guitar Karaoke app (free on iOS) has launched a new “strumming” feature to help aspiring beginners learn to strum their guitars via their iPhones and iPads.

Developed by Finnish music app developer Musopia, the FourChords app helps people enjoy playing the guitar quickly and easily by presenting a continually updated range of songs – from folk or rock classics to the latest chart toppers – in an easy to follow karaoke-style app using just a few chords. In its latest version FourChords can take the guitar player a step further where in addition to the easy chords; the app guides the player to learn the different strumming patterns for each song.

Justin Sandercoe, of guitar teaching website www.justinguitar.com, was named by the Independent newspaper as “one of the most influential guitar teachers in history” and has partnered with FourChords to present chord playing tutorial videos for guitar beginners. Now Justin demonstrates the FourChords strumming feature which lets you see and hear the strumming pattern for you to play on your guitar.

Paula Lehto, CMO of Musopia said; “We want to get people playing, and enjoying, music as quickly as possible. Justin is a great ambassador for FourChords and his latest video for us illustrates just how easy it is to strum good guitar patterns to great songs. We design apps which take budding guitarists through each level of learning and our apps prepare them to what we call the ‘Campfire guitarist level’ – where they’ll be good enough to play guitar for a sing-a-long around a camp fire!”


The post Strum Guitar like Justin with FourChords app appeared first on Guitar Noize.

Categories: General Interest

Gear Review: ElectroHarmonix Soul Food Overdrive

Guitar Gear - Sat, 04/12/2014 - 09:18
ElectroHarmonix Soul Food OverdriveSummary: Billed as a clone of a Klon Centaur (or “klone” as some put it), this overdrive purports to offer the same tone capabilities as that pedal but at five times less the original cost, and twenty times less than what they’re going for on eBay.Pros: The Soul Food falls into my […]
Categories: General Interest

Ampeg Big Stud - a 1970s Japanese take on the Precision/Telecaster Bass

Guitarz - Sat, 04/12/2014 - 02:48
We recently looked at an early 1970s Fender Telecaster Bass which itself was a reissue, or rather, a reinterpretation of the original pre-redesign Fender Precision Bass. Here we see another 1970s interpretation of the same design by the Japanese, marketed under the Ampeg brandname. This particular model was named the Ampeg Big Stud; there was also a Little Stud model fashioned more in keeping with the traditional Precision bass.

When I first saw this bass I did wonder momentarily if it was a short or medium-scale bass, but it does indeed have the full 34" long scale length. I think it must be an optical illusion created by Ampeg's choice of a smaller 2+2 headstock.

Notable users include bassist Senon Williams of Cambodian pop/psychedelic band Dengue Fever.

Currently listed on eBay UK with a Buy It Now price of £375.00.

G L Wilson

© 2014, Guitarz - The Original Guitar Blog - the blog that goes all the way to 11!
Please read our photo and content policy.
Categories: General Interest

Toontrack releases Classic Amps EZmix Pack

Guitar Noize - Sat, 04/12/2014 - 00:51

Back in Nov 2012 I reviewed Toontrack’s Metal Guitar Gods EZMix Pack for EZMix 2 and I was really impressed at the quality of presets available from some big names in modern metal such as Misha Mansoor and Frederik Thorndahl. So I guess it is really no surprise that Toontrack have been working on some classic amp models and have just announced the release of the Classic Amps EZmix Pack for EZmix 2.

Press Release
The Classic Amps EZmix Pack presents 50 complete signal chain presets including amps, stomp boxes, speakers and various effects. The speakers were modeled using custom impulse responses, capturing the essence of several premium vintage cabinets and combos. The settings express a wide variety and cover anything from clean and muffled rhythm sounds to rich and saturated leads.

“We wanted to model the most influential amps of the past 50 years and put together a collection of tones that could work for any kind of guitar oriented music. We ended up with settings spanning anything from blues to British Invasion, punk, grunge and pop”, says Toontrack sound designer Ulf Edlund.

This collection is a testament and homage to the amps that managed to survive and seep through several decades of musical progression. The inspiration to your next riff is just a mouse-click away. Make sure it sounds great – add some of that warm tube sizzle, subtle speaker rattle or warm fuzz to it!

Find more information and audio demos here:

The post Toontrack releases Classic Amps EZmix Pack appeared first on Guitar Noize.

Categories: General Interest

Leo Kottke's California Dunk Tank

Guitar Vibe - Fri, 04/11/2014 - 14:24
I'm not sure why it's called a "dunk tank" but I suppose it's better than a drunk tank. Nonetheless, fans of Leo Kottke will be excited to learn that they can spend 5 days this summer learning from the master... Zack Urlocker
Categories: General Interest

Review: Last Chance Jazz by the Dan Krimm Ensemble

Guitar International - Fri, 04/11/2014 - 13:31

By: Mike Oppenheim

DanKrimm-LastChanceJazzLive-1Dan Krimm Ensemble’s  Last Chance Jazz, released in 2013, is an archival live recording of his quartet from 1993 at the Kampo Cultural & Media Center in New York City. The group features Krimm on the fretless electric bass, Mike Foster on tenor sax, Rolf Sturm on electric guitar and MIDI guitar synthesizer, and drummer Rich Mercurio

The live set was twelve tunes, but the tracks on Last Chance Jazz are the seven originals from the concert. Composed by Dan Krimm, these were written between 1980 and 1992, with several appearing on his 1991 album “Subtle Truth.”

“Underway” builds around a series of bass ostinatos, varying depending on the musical section. The melody is found in a heavily chorused guitar, acting as an entire horn section. Atmospheric feedback and guitar distortion are pervasive, and add color to the background for the winding sax solo.

“Walden,” an ambiguous and tonally shifting tune in 6/8, is the highlight of the album. The introduction uses the fluidity of the fretless bass to submerge the listener in a texture of sounds. Sturm’s guitar solo fluctuates between defined single note runs and fanning doubles-tops. Krimm’s bass solo is as melodic as it is virtuosic and Foster’s tenor sax spot is equally inspired.

“Release Me” is another excellent ballad, beginning with a chord melody performed by a solo bass. The entire band joins after the chord melody. Foster’s sax melody is breathy on this poignant tune. Krimm describes the ballad as catatonic, which is the perfect word. However, there are signs of hope and redemption, especially in the guitar and sax solos.

Click here to view the embedded video.

There is great variety on the album, especially from the bass and guitar. Krimm’s compositional talents and fretless bass chops make him an exceptional and unique leader. Sturm’s playing is also effective and varied, ranging from single note solos, to comped and arpeggiated accompaniments, to atmospheric guitar effects. Mecurio’s drumming is notable throughout, often using the cymbals to outline odd off-beats and intriguing rhythmic patterns. Foster’s playing is always appropriate, with careful attention to not only the notes, but how they’re played and the horn’s timbre.


Categories: Classical


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