Stewart-MacDonald has long been known as one of the best places to buy lutherie tools and parts. Now, they have partnered with JHS Pedals to bring some of JHS’s discontinued pedals back to life in kit form.
Currently, Stew-Mac is offering five different JHS pedal kits: the 808 Overdrive, the All American, the Bomb Boost, the Low Drive Bass Overdrive, and the Old School Fuzz. The first four are reissues of discontinued JHS pedals, and the Old School Fuzz is a new circuit designed specifically for Stew-Mac and this partnership.
I’ve owned a number of JHS pedals and have played several more of them. My favorite is their Sweet Tea overdrive pedal, which includes their 808 Overdrive. It sounds fantastic. It has the familiar mid-boost of a Tubescreamer, but also has the capability of being much smoother. I’ve also owned the All American, which is their RAT clone, which I thought sounded good as well.
If you’ve ever thought about building your own pedal, this could be a nice way to do it and end up with a nice sounding pedal.
Getting the urge to see a new musical on Broadway? May we suggest The Great Comet Of 1812.
The new Broadway musical is inspired by 70 pages within Leo Tolstoy's War and Peace. The musical tells the tale of love and corruption set in 1812 Moscow. The Great Comet Of 1812 stars Broadway newcomers and multi-platinum recording artist Josh Groban and Denée Benton. Screenings of the new Broadway musical are happening now at the Imperial Theater with opening night set for November 14th. You can learn more about the Great Comet Of 1812 and purchase tickets here.
Martin Guitar and Martin Strings are the official guitar and string sponsors of The Great Comet Of 1812.
Pepe and the conductor were old friends. Watch closely at the final note.
I am sometimes impressed by how much emphasis players put on fingering a passage a certain way. As if there is only one manner to produce a phrase that will give it the right personality. Keeping a melody on single string is one of those habits, as if the melody lived on the strings, not in the imagination of the player. The performer’s imagination is the most important aspect of playing; it is this imagined sound that triggers the rest of the music making process. This imagined sound needs to contain pitch and rhythm, in addition to timbre, articulation, volume and subtle changes of speed. There is a story I often tell about hearing a guitarist who produced some of the loveliest sounds I had ever heard. When I told him how magnificent his sound was, he showed me his broken nails: every single one had broken while playing a previous work on twelve-string guitar. The conclusion I came to was that the feeling behind the notes was conveyed to the listeners clearly. He had enchanted us in the truest sense of the word.
I have also worked with experienced classical musicians who want to put their imprint on the music: to show the world that they play it thus. At times I find this attitude troubling because I like to think that the music plays me. That there is this wonderful place outside of the everyday where music lives and once in a while we get live it, to ride down that river of rhythm.
photo by Alan Bell
Once, when I was adjudicating a creative music festival I heard a five year old play a very simple piece. It went doh, re, mi, fa, sol, sol, sol, sol, sol, fa mi, re, doh, doh, doh, doh, and repeated. It was the perfect piece for a five year old to compose. In this case the scale up got louder note-by-note and got softer note by note. I asked him if his piano teacher had told him to play that way and he looked at me with suspicious eyes before agreeing that was true. Then I told him to just look out the window, enjoy the view of the river and trees and simply play the piece without thinking. Again, he gave me the suspicious eyes before agreeing to try it my way. This was in a roomful of adults and as he played the piece simply, a collective sigh issued from the listeners. The natural flow of music had been restored – he played in an unaffected manner and we all felt relieved. The earlier version’s portentous feeling was gone. Sometimes simple is best.
Nasrudin had taken up walking for exercise and had been enjoying his strolls after the evening meal. One time, however he noticed that two bandits were following him. He began to walk quickly and soon came upon a graveyard. He noticed an open grave and lay down in it.
The two bandits followed him and saw him lying in the pit. They asked him why he was sleeping in an open grave.
“Well, you see, I died last week but there are so many things that I had left to do, I am now a ghost, and stuck here for a while.”
Hearing this the bandits began to run far, far away.
Meet one of the newest members of the Road Series family- the DRSG.
The DRSG was recently released at the 2016 Summer NAMM Show. The new model features a Sitka spruce top with siris back and sides. The Dreadnought model's fingerboard and bridge are constructed of Richlite and it comes equipped with Fishman Sonitone electronics. The DRSG is strung with SP Lifespan 92/8 Phosphor Bronze Medium gauge Martin Strings.
Want to experience the DRSG in person? Find an authorized Martin dealer here.
John Muir, naturalist
Now, to work.
After nearly 9 years of creating video guitar lessons, I’ve never made a solo lesson that focuses specifically on playing an Acoustic Blues Guitar Solo. Granted I did create a Dobro lesson in my Open G Tuning course and a free acoustic blues lick in a video podcast, but never a full unaccompanied solo like the one I will teach here.
This solo is another one you can learn that you can play all by yourself that combines chords, licks, different rhythms, and fingerstyle playing that will teach you a load of blues techniques needed to play this style of guitar.
It has a little bit of that “old school” feel but I also added some of my own style in to give it a little bit of a modern touch.
Hope to come out with this lesson sometime this weekend to the All Access Pass and as a download.
Here’s to some acoustic blues that you can sit out on your front porch and jam the day with.
This Gretsch Electromatic suffered a fall right on the output jack which pushed it straight through. I decided to install a metal jack plate to cover the hole. It is tempting to just screw the plate on but the thin walls of the body don’t provide mush support and the plate would likely come loose over time, or worse, get pulled of by accident. To increase the strength I made up a curved piece of plywood using maple veneers and glued it inside. The jack is installed from the inside so the plate is held on by the screws and the trhreaded barrel of the jack.
|Frying Pan - Gibson ES-150 - Ro-Pt-In Electric - Les Paul's "Log|
I recall watching a video of Andre Segovia in which he described by playing closer and farther away from the instruments bridge, one could change the timbre of the guitar to give it a more bright or mellow sound.
|Maestro Fuzz Tone|
Guitar tone-shaping pedals came about in the mid 1960’s and by 2016 have evolved into devices that make your guitar sound like an altogether different instrument.
|Roland G202 Guitar and GR500 Synth|
Electronics companies have also introduced guitar synthesizers, that essentially use the guitar as a controller that is connected to a sound producing device.
|1963 Welson Guitar|
But before all of these pedals and synthesizers came into vogue, guitar manufacturers and designers were attempting to get alter the guitars tone by using some pretty zany pickup designs, lots of pickups, and unusual placement.
Some of these designs worked and some were just plain bizarre.
Probably the most well known is Leo Fender’s slanted pickup placement on the Fender Esquire, Telecaster, Broadcaster, Stratocaster, Duo-sonic, Bullet, and Mustang. I honestly do not think the treble is enhanced that greatly by slanting the pickup, however it does look cool.
|1950 Fender Champion Steel|
This was what Leo had been doing on his steel guitars and he was doing a good job of building and selling them.
|1940 Gibson ES-300N|
|1941 Gibson ES-300N|
A year later the pickup was redesigned into a much shorter version on the ES-300 that was placed just in front of the bridge.
The guitar craze reached epic proportions in the mid 1960’s. This was after the British Invasion that affected not just the United States, but Europe as well.
|1960's Hagstrom I|
Countless youngsters wanting to be the next big music group went out and purchased a guitar or bass. Businesses were importing a lot of instruments not just from Japan and Asia, but from Germany, Sweden, Russia, Norway and other European countries. So designers were getting creative with the pickups.
|1960's Framus Atlantik|
The Framus Atlantik came out around 1966 and was available with either two or three pickups. The body was based on Gibson’s ES design and came with one or two cutaways. The pickups were slanted, but were not parallel. It was definitely not designed by someone with OCD.
The pickups “stair-stepped” downward from the six string pickup by the end of the fretboard to the first string pickup by the bridge. This was meant to be a stereo guitar with the capability of panning an individual string to an individual amplifier.
A player would need two amps to properly use this guitar. The biggest problem was the coil in each pickup was not wound enough to get any useful signal. But it looked great on paper. Sekova was a brand name that Kawai Music Company used on some of their guitars at that time.
|1968 St. Moritz|
This St. Moritz guitar is something of a mystery. It is a stereo guitar and was probably made in Japan by the Fuji Gen Gakki company, although the name conjours up images of Switzerland.
|St. Moritz Stereo|
This was a nice guitar designed to produce stereo sound through two amplifiers and definitely made for playing with a clean sound.
|Wurlitzer Gemini Stereo|
Although the pickups on this guitar appear to look fairly normal, they actually are stereo pickups. This 1966 era guitar was made by a woodworking firm from Neodesha Kansas caled Holman-Woodell for the Wurlitzer Music Company They produced guitars from 1965 through 1968, including the LaBaye 2 x 4 guitar. This is a Wurlitzer Gemini guitar and has Holman-Woodell made Sensi-tone single coil pickups.
Other guitar companies produced stereo guitars. Gibson had produced ES versions of stereo guitar as far back as 1956.
That same year Rickenbacker also implemented "Ric-O-Sound" on many models.
This was a stereo configuration circiut, that most performers did not utilize, as it needed a special Ric-O-Sound splitter box.
|Webster with stereo White Falcon|
Gretsch created a stereo guitar for that was designed by Gretsch demonstrator Jimmie Webster back in 1956. It was based on the top-of-the-line White Falcon model and made to be played through a pair of amplifiers.
|Gretsch Dark Eyes stereo guitar|
|Dark Eyes Neck PIckup|
The USA was not immune to guitars with unique pickups. The Fender XII (that’s 12 for anyone whose school did not teach Roman numerals), came with four pickups and a 4 way pickup selector. This placement enabled the guitar to be played with the both neck pickups, the lower neck and upper section of the bridge pickups in series, the lower neck and upper section of the bridge pickups in parallel, or both sections of the bridge pickups.
Many recording artists preferred the Fender XII since the strings were back-loaded instead of attaching to a trapeze tailpiece, as on a Rickenbacker and each string had an adjustable bridge saddle.
When the popularity of the electric twelve string guitar waned, Fender cut the bodies, filled in six of the holes in the headstock, added a tremolo tailpiece and called this guitar The Maverick.
The Fender Performer came out in 1985 in an attempt to win over the Heavy Metal players who had gravitated to super-strats. The Performer featured oddly shaped humbucking pickups that slanted upward. The pickups had plastic covers with no exposed pole-pieces.
This instrument came in two models; the Standard and the Elite. Both came with twin single coil pickups, although some models may of had three single coils. The pickup design was rather odd since it was an elongated quadrangle shape. Both instruments were originally made in Japan at a time when Fender had no US based production facility and were designed by John Page.
|Les Paul Recording|
Les was a pioneer in recording and invented multi-track recording. His technique was called sound-on-sound, which could be accomplished with a tape recorder that had three heads.
Once the first pass was recorded, then laid subsequent passes were laid over over the first track. With high-impedance pickups or microphones the original sounds dissapated after about three or four overdubs. Les discovered the solution was to record with low-impedance pickups and microphones.
|Les Paul Personal|
Gibson produced three different Les Paul Model guitars called the Les Paul Personal, which had an input on the upper bout for a microphone and a goose neck stand, the Les Paul Professional and the Les Paul Recording guitars.
|Les Paul Professonal|
These instruments were equipped with low-impedance pickups for the clarity of their sound, that were meant to plug directly into a recording console, but came with switches and electronics to use with an amplifier. The twin stacked-humbucking pickups were slanted downward.
|'76 Gibson Maurader|
Gibson came up with some unusual designs during their Norlin years. One of these was The Maurader. It was a single cutaway guitar with a 12 1/2” body and a bolt-on neck. This guitar came with a humbucking pickup in the neck position and a single coil blade pickup, encased in epoxy in the bridge position. The bridge pickup slanted downward.
|1982 Gibson Grabber Bass|
It was a very bright sounding pickup and was placed in an indention in the center of the insturments body. The pickup could “grabbed” by the player and moved forward or backward to make tonal changes.
|Levin aka Goya Guitars|
The electric guitars produced under the Goya brand were actually made in Italy by the Polverini Brothers. One of these models with unusual pickups is the Goya Rangemaster. And though the guitar was produced in Italy, the vibrato system on this instrument was made in Sweden by Hagstrom.
|'66 Goya Rangemaster 105 - 107|
The controls on the upper bout allow the following pickup combinations. The first is the two neck pickups together, the second switch activates the lower neck pickup and the upper bridge pickup, the third switch turns on the treble side of the neck pickup and the bass side of the bridge pickup and the fourth switch activates both bridge pickups.
|'66 Rangemaster 109|
The switches on the lower bout control the tone and there is a volume potentiometer.
The Hoshino Gakki company of Japan had been using the brand name Ibanez for some years. They were well known for producing a lot of copies of US made guitars and were eventually sued by Gibson guitars in the Gibson vs Elger action in 1977. It is a fact that Ibanez saw the writing on the wall a few years prior to the lawsuit, because in 1975 the company came up with a very original design called The Ibanez Iceman.
The Ibanez Iceman model 2663TC, introduced in 1975 and originally called the Artist model, is quite interesting because it has only one pickup; A triple coil pickup.
A similar model called the 2663SL included this same pickup, but the player could slide it to different positions in the body.
Each pickup, called ARS pickups, has two pole pieces. The bass is an extremely modernistic design.
Norma Guitars was the brand name that a United States distributors used on some Teisco guitars. This guitar seems to have a pickup layout similar to the aforementioned Greco guitar, but in reverse.
The switch on the upper bout controls the pickup configuration.
|Tokai Talbo Bass|
The Tokai Company of Japan began making copies of Fender and Gibson guitar around 1977. By 1983 Tokai introduced an aluminum body guitar and bass called The Talbo (Tokai Aluminum Body). The guitar comes with the usual humbucking pickups
|Tokai Talbo Bass|
As always, the links under the pictures take you to the source, while the links in the text take you to further information. Don't miss the link under the Gretsch Dark Eyes guitar.
TC Electronic has been announcing new pedals all day. They are no frills, toneprint-less, mostly analog (save for a reverb and a delay) models. Pretty much every effect is covered: chorus, phaser, flanger, compressor, overdrive, distortion, metal distortion, delay, reverb…
I haven’t seen any retail prices yet but according to TC, these will be priced very competitively.
Here is the Grand Magnus distortion in action, it sounds pretty good!
The CMA nominations are in and the countdown to the award show begins!
Martin Ambassador Dierks Bentley is nominated four times in the following categories: Album Of The Year, Male Vocalist Of The Year, Musical Event Of The Year, and Music Video of the Year. Martin Ambassador Thomas Rhett is up for Song Of The Year and Single Of The Year. While, Martin Ambassador Elle King is nominated for her first CMA award for Musical Event Of The Year alongside fellow Martin Ambassador Dierks Bentley.
Dierks Bentley is also slated to perform at the 50th CMA Awards.
The CMAs will air on Wednesday, November 2nd on ABC. For more information, click here.
Wondering what these Martin Ambassadors Martin guitars of choice are? Dierks Bentley opts for the D-28 while Thomas Rhett chooses a Custom Shop HD-16R Adirondack with a Koa top, and Elle King prefers the OMCPA5 Black. To experience these Martin guitars in person, find an authorized Martin dealer here.
You can view a full list of Martin Ambassadors here.
I have recently started posting photos of dulcimers in progress and snapshots from my fascinating life on Instagram.
Instagram will provide a more immediate experience of what I have been covering in my “What’s On The Bench” posts. It will almost be like you are there!
You can follow me on Instagram by clicking here. You can also click on the Instagram widget on my pages and posts.
There will still be lots of Thrill-Packed Entertainment right here at DougBerch.com so stay tuned!
The D-15 Special is the limited edition guitar you'll want to add to your holiday wish list.
The new member of the 15-Series family features a rich satin finish with solid mahogany back and sides with a Sitka spruce top. Black binding borders the top while black purfling accents the 2-piece back. The D-15 Special is equipped with SP Lifespan 92/8 Phosphor Bronze Medium Martin strings. You can find all the details on the D-15 Special here.