General Interest

Andrew Molina GHS Strings

Guitar Lifestyle - Thu, 12/07/2017 - 13:09

By: Russ

Aloha! Before I moved to Hawaii, I knew I was going to be buying an ukulele for me at least, but was trying to get the kids interested in it as well. I found a video of an amazing player tackling Taylor Swift’s “Shake it Off,” and my daughter, a huge Swift fan, was intrigued.

I was more interested in the player, though. Andrew Molina is amazing. He’s got that infuriating combination of making music that sounds very difficult to play while looking like it’s the easiest thing in the world for him. That combination makes you feel a mix of inspiration and hopelessness.

Over the last couple of years, I’ve seen more of Molina’s videos and my favorite to date is “Surfing Jaws.”

It’s got that same combination of skill and an easy look, but melody is so solid and unrelenting that you could hum the whole thing. While there’s a ton of virtuosity on display, the song never takes a back seat to the melody and that’s why it’s so strong. In short, it’s the perfect instrumental. I love it.

So, as a fan of Molina’s, I was pleased to see a string set from GFS curated by Molina. I asked for a review set and, when they arrived, strung up one of my tenors and had some impressions.

The first was that they don’t magically make you better. That being said, there are some attributes to them that, over time, will make it easier to get better.

The first is that they’re made slightly thinner than average strings, but with greater tension. The result is a strong, punchy tone that doesn’t sound muffled or boomy like some ukulele strings do.

The second is that, with that added tension, there’s a little more force involved with fretting them (and a slightly better chance of making notes go sharp) but that’s okay because added tension reduces the amount of distance a string will travel when plucked/strummed/picked. The result of this is a lower likelihood of the string hitting the frets above your fretted note and creating a buzz. Because of this, you can lower the action on your uke and use less force to press down on the strings.

So, basically, you would only have to exert slightly more effort if you kept the action on your ukulele high, which is no longer a necessity.

Additionally, with the greater tension and less string travel, the strings snap back to where they should be faster and it doesn’t take long at all to appreciate that fact as your fingers know exactly where to go to pick the next note. This is hugely beneficial when tremolo-picking in particular.

With strings that go back to where they should faster, and the lower travel space/time giving you the opportunity to lower your ukulele action and make playing easier, it’s easy to see that, while they won’t magically make you a better player, they’ll give you some added features that will make playing a little easier, which will only benefit you in the long run.

I think this string set is a good investment in experimentation. I say buy a set, throw them on your ukulele and see what I mean. You don’t need to adjust your action or anything to get a feel and appreciate them for their tone and playing potential.

Categories: General Interest

Top 10 Ernie Ball Music Man Bestsellers 2017

Ernie Ball Music Man - Wed, 12/06/2017 - 09:07

As we wrap up the year, we thought it would be fun to take a look back and share which of our instruments were most popular. From long-time favorites like the StingRay bass to newcomers like the St. Vincent, Valentine, and Modern Classics, a healthy medley of instruments are represented. So sit back, relax, and enjoy a recap of the best-selling Ernie Ball Music Man instruments of 2017.


1) StingRay 4H 3EQ Bass Guitar

First introduced in 1976, the StingRay has been revered as one of the most iconic bass guitars in history. The StingRay was the first production four string bass to feature on-board active equalization. The flagship of the Music Man line, today’s StingRay is the same as it was some forty years ago featuring a solid roadworthy construction, massive hardened steel bridge, elegant oval pickguard, 3+1 tuning key configuration, and the ever popular Music Man humbucker. All of which combined produce a look, feel and sound that are remarkably unmistakable.


2) Monarchy Majesty 6-String Guitar


The Monarchy Series Majesty is constructed with a through-neck design of mahogany and flame maple top; available in 4 rich translucent finishes. The Monarchy Series Majesty comes with chrome or black hardware featuring a custom John Petrucci Music Man Piezo floating tremolo bridge and Schaller locking tuners.


3) Majesty 6 String Guitar


The Majesty is the result of John’s unwavering demand for performance, playability and race inspired design. One of the most ergonomic and perfectly balanced instruments available, The Majesty features neckthrough body design, unparalleled upper and lower fret access, economical in-line control knob placement and new digital pickup switching capabilities which effectively eliminates delay between pickup selection. The Majesty is the exemplification of everything we know a John Petrucci signature model to be – innovative technology, versatile performance, and a sleek modern feel.


4) St. Vincent Guitar

Envisioned and designed by St. Vincent with support from the award-winning engineering team at Ernie Ball Music Man, the unique electric guitar was crafted to perfectly fit her form, playing technique and personal style. Crafted in Ernie Ball Music Man’s San Luis Obispo, California factory, the St. Vincent signature is available in black or custom Vincent Blue, a color hand-mixed by Annie. New colors for 2017 include Polaris White, Heritage Red, Tobacco Burst, and Stealth Black. Featuring an African mahogany body, Ernie Ball Music Man tremolo, gunstock oil and hand-rubbed rosewood neck and fingerboard, St. Vincent inlays, Schaller locking tuners, 5-way pick up selector with custom configuration and 3-mini humbuckers, the guitar also comes complete with Ernie Ball Regular Slinky guitar strings.


5) Cutlass SSS Guitar

The Cutlass features updated vintage spec electronics, a super smooth modern tremolo system and lightweight alder body are welcome refinements to the Cutlass. Oversized 4 over 2 headstock with straight string pull provide superior tuning stability and flawless craftsmanship throughout make the Cutlass a perfect culmination of old world aesthetics and styling with modern design and playability.


6) StingRay 5 HH Guitar

The first bass designed by Ernie Ball Music Man, the Stingray 5 was unveiled in 1987 and has been an industry standard for extended range basses ever since. With its powerful punchy sound, the added flexibility of additional pickups and a comfortably contoured body the StingRay5 satisfies even the most demanding of players.


7) Valentine Guitar

The Ernie Ball Music Man James Valentine “Valentine” guitar features a slab ash body, two Ernie Ball Music Man designed pickups (1-humbucker/1-single coil), with 3-way custom wired lever switch, coil tap, modern hardtail bridge with vintage bent steel saddles, 25.5-inch scale, oil and wax rubbed roasted maple neck with 10-inch radius maple fingerboard, 22 stainless steel frets, oversized 4-over-2 headstock and compensated nut, designed for superior tuning stability.


8) JP15 6 String Guitar

The JP15 features a lightweight African mahogany body with a figured roasted maple top. The subtle yet beautiful Sahara Burst satin finish compliments the flame or quilt figuring with stunning effect. Roasted maple neck and fingerboard adds just the right amount of snap and brightness while providing more stability in ever changing climates. The JP 15 is powered by twin custom Dimarzio Illuminator pickups, piezo bridge system and on board 20db gain boost. Available in 6 or 7 string with Music Man JP tremolo, 3 way Toggle pickup selector and Music Man hardshell case.


9) StingRay4 HH

First introduced in 1976, the StingRay has been revered as one of the most iconic bass guitars in history. The StingRay was the first production four string bass to feature on-board active equalization. The flagship of the Music Man line, today’s StingRay is the same as it was some forty years ago featuring a solid roadworthy construction, massive hardened steel bridge, elegant oval pickguard, 3+1 tuning key configuration, and the ever popular Music Man humbucker. All of which combined produce a look, feel and sound that are remarkably unmistakable.


10) StingRay Guitar

The StingRay guitar features updated vintage spec humbucking pickups, a super smooth modern tremolo system and off-set lightweight African Mahogany body. The sound is big and bold when needed but smooth as glass if desired thanks to the perfectly voiced custom pickups. 3-way switch accesses versatile coil combinations while oversized 4 over 2 headstock with straight string pull provide superior tuning stability. Flawless craftsmanship throughout make the Stingray a perfect culmination of old world aesthetics and styling with modern design and playability.


How to Choose the Best Acoustic Guitar for You

TrueFire - Wed, 12/06/2017 - 07:21

These days, acoustic guitars are more popular than ever. With so many great singer-songwriters and acoustic guitar players, it’s no wonder why. If you are looking to get into the game then you need to remember that your guitar should feel like an extension of yourself, but finding that perfect fit is no easy task.…

The post How to Choose the Best Acoustic Guitar for You appeared first on TrueFire's Guitar Blog.

Larry Carlton Christmas Guitar Song Lesson: “Silent Night”

TrueFire - Tue, 12/05/2017 - 04:00

Larry performs this intermediate level arrangement of Silent Night in this video performance lesson. Click here to download the full christmas song guitar lesson with tab and notation! Silent Night (German: Stille Nacht, heilige Nacht) is a popular Christmas carol, composed in 1818 by Franz Xaver Gruber to lyrics by Joseph Mohr in the small…

The post Larry Carlton Christmas Guitar Song Lesson: “Silent Night” appeared first on TrueFire's Guitar Blog.

Paul Kelly - Live in SF

Guitar Vibe - Fri, 12/01/2017 - 16:40
Paul Kelly has been one of my favorite musicians since a trip a few years back to Australia. A buddy set me up with an iPhone full of Australian music and Paul Kelly's "Songs of the South" greatest hits album... Zack Urlocker
Categories: General Interest

Rock Opera: Klaatu - Hope

Guitar Vibe - Fri, 12/01/2017 - 13:05
If you know one thing about the obscure prog rock band Klaatu, it's that in the late 1970s they were rumored to be the Beatles. Of course, that wasn't the case, as legions of Beatles fans later realized when they,... Zack Urlocker
Categories: General Interest

Kiesel Carvin SH550 Electric Guitar Review

The Gear Vault - Thu, 11/30/2017 - 11:35

Carvin SH550 AAAA flamed maple is the standard top, yes, we said “AAAA“ maple top, and unlike most “archtop” style guitars, the SH550 features an actual carved top. In addition, you can also choose an optional AAAA quilted maple top or a flamed koa top

The post Kiesel Carvin SH550 Electric Guitar Review appeared first on Gear Vault.

Categories: General Interest

Nashville’s Must-Stop Music City Guitar Stores!

The Gear Vault - Thu, 11/30/2017 - 09:48

Mom & Pop guitar shops are a treasured rarity in the fast-paced world we find ourselves living in today. Screw Guitar Center! Check out Gear-Vault’s Must-Stop Music City Mom & Pop Guitar Shops in the Nashville area that ooze that Southern hospitality we all crave! Gruhn Guitars Come on by Gruhn Guitars aka guitar heaven! […]

The post Nashville’s Must-Stop Music City Guitar Stores! appeared first on Gear Vault.

Categories: General Interest

Bruno Mars Rocks His Albert Lee during “24K Magic Live At The Apollo” Performance

Ernie Ball Music Man - Thu, 11/30/2017 - 07:57

Multiple GRAMMY Award-winning singer, songwriter, producer, director, musician, two-time Super Bowl Halftime performer, and Ernie Ball Music Man artist Bruno Mars performed in his first primetime television special last night with “Bruno Mars: 24K Magic Live At The Apollo” on CBS. This electrifying special was taped at the legendary Apollo Theater in New York City, where Bruno kicked off the special in spectacular style, with an epic performance atop the Apollo’s landmark marquee. Also, Bruno and his band the Hooligans took to the streets, visiting, singing and entertaining locals in exciting, intimate, must-see moments. The special, which will continue to tape in the coming weeks, features exhilarating, never-before-seen stage performances throughout the broadcast. Watch the entire first episode broadcast here.

The Albert Lee

During the performance of “Calling All My Lovelies” on tour and during his special, Bruno plays a custom “24k” colored Ernie Ball Music Man Albert Lee electric guitar. With its unique retro modern design and stunning array of vintage single coils options, the Albert Lee is one versatile instrument. Lightweight, comfortable and perfectly balanced players will appreciate its fit, form and function. Sporting a southern swamp ash body, figured maple neck and a trio of custom pickups, this guitar is the the perfect choice for guitarists who want brilliant high-pitched twang or smooth throaty tone wrapped up in a hum-free electronic package. Whether you are looking for twang or shine, grit or grease, the Albert Lee delivers, covering a wide ranging sonic palette all at the flick of the switch. Bruno plays Ernie Ball Regular Slinky electric guitar strings.




Top 5 Acoustic Guitar Jazz Albums

The Guitar Journal - Wed, 11/29/2017 - 22:16

Most of the greatest jazz albums have been recorded with hollow body or semi-hollow body guitars. However, do we consider these kind of guitars as acoustic guitars? Technically, they are acoustic guitars amplified by a magnetic pickup.

Jazz and blues guitarists as Charlie Christian, with his Gibson ES 150, Lonnie Johnson or Les paul were one of the first guitarists that uses pickups to convert the vibrations of the strings into electrical signals. Obviously, because of the weakness of sound, these guitars need to be plugged into an amplifier before being sent to a loudspeaker unlike acoustic guitars that need to be recorded with a microphone.

But a few jazz guitar players accustomed with electric guitars have made the choice to record entire albums with acoustic guitars, nylon or steel. Some of them, as Charlie Byrd has decided to use only acoustic guitars all along their career. Surely this is because acoustic guitars create a sense of authenticity, space and proximity at the same time, both for the players and listeners, a sensation that is not generally found with electric guitars.

There are different types of guitars, many sizes, many different forms, many tones – but there’s nothing that can quite replicate the sound or the feel of playing a nylon-string or a steel-string acoustic guitar.

Here is a list of the 5 best jazz albums recorded with acoustic guitars.

Top 5 Acoustic Guitar Jazz Albums

1: Django Reinhardt – Djangology

Jean Reinhardt, better known under the name of Django Reinhardt, is a french jazz guitarist born in 1910 and died in 1953. His style of playing and sound has given birth to the gypsy jazz. He is one of the most respected and influential guitarists of the jazz history. One the most representative album is surely “Djangology” with the quintet of the Hot Club of France featuring Stephane Grappelli (violin). This gem was released in 1961 in the United States by RCA records. 12 songs were recorded.

Track list :

  1.  Minor swing
  2.  Beyond the sea (la mer)
  3.  Bricktop
  4.  Honeysuckle rose
  5.  Heavy artillery
  6.  Djangology
  7.  After you’ve gone
  8.  Where are you my love
  9.  I saw stars
  10.  Lover man
  11.  Menilmontant
  12.  Swing 42

Preview album >>

2: Charlie Byrd – Quintet Du Hot Club de Concord

Charlie Byrd was an American jazz guitarist. He is best known to play fingerstyle on nylon string guitars and for his bossa nova recordings. His strongest influence was Django Reinhardt. To pay tribute to him, he founded the quintet of The Hot Club du Concord, similar to the quintet of the Hot Club of France founded by Django himself. This ensemble has two guitarists (with Frank Vignola), one bassist, one violinist and one harmonicist. The repertoire contains swing (swing 59) and Latin tunes (Besame mucho), ballads, and jazz standards (Moon river, Cotton tail). This recording is a highly recommended effort, difficult to find and hear on the internet, however here is a link with some samples.

Track list :

  1. Swing 59
  2. Golden earrings
  3. Lamentos
  4. Carinhoso
  5. Till The Cloud Roll By
  6. Jubilee
  7. Frenesi
  8. At the Seaside
  9. Gipsy boots
  10. Old New Orleans blues
  11. Cotton Tail
  12. Perfidia
  13. Moon river
  14. Besame mucho
  15. They didn’t believe me

Purchase Album >>

3: Joe Pass – Songs for Ellen

Is it really necessary to introduce Joe Pass? Jazz guitar master, true genius and virtuoso. He is known for his walking bass lines, his chord knowledge, his sense of improvisation and reharmonization. He’s still one of the greatest jazz guitarists of all time. In this posthumous album, Joe Pass plays exclusively on acoustic guitar (nylon-string). It should be pointed that he is used to play with electric archtop guitars (Gibson, D’Aquisto and Ibanez).

  1. The Shadow of Your Smile
  2. Song for Ellen
  3. I Only Have Eyes for You
  4.  Stars Fell on Alabama
  5.  That Old Feeling
  6.  Star Eyes
  7.  Robbins Nest
  8.  Someone to Watch over Me
  9.  Blues for Angel
  10.  There’s a Small Hotel
  11.  How Deep Is the Ocean?
  12.  Stormy Weather
  13.  Just Friends
  14.  Blue Moon
  15.  Satellite Village

Purchase Album >>

4: Baden Powell – Tristeza On Guitar

Baden Powell is one of the most known Brazilian composer and guitarist. Whether it is bossa nova, world fusion or Afro samba, Baden Powell is a guitar master with an unlimited imagination and a perfect purified style. Tristeza on guitar was recorded in Rio de Janeiro in 1966 at Studio Riosom and at Studio Atonal. It contains 11 gems that are mainly Latin tunes excepted the famous jazz standard “round about midnight” composed by Thelonious Monk.

  1.  Tristeza
  2.  Canto de Xangô
  3.  Round About Midnight
  4.  Saravá
  5.  Canto de Ossanha
  6.  Manha de Carnaval
  7.  Invencão Em 7½
  8.  Das Rosas
  9.  Som Do Carnaval
  10.  O Astronauta

Preview Album >>

5:  Pat Metheny – One Quiet Night

Leader of the Pat Metheny group the man has incorporated a number of elements in his works and explore numerous of jazz styles as Latin jazz, jazz fusion, pop jazz, experimental or folk jazz all along his career. One Quiet Night is a solo album recorded on a steel-string acoustic baritone guitar. It contains original compositions by Pat Metheny except “My song” by Keith Jarett, “Ferry cross the Mersey” by Gerry Marsden and “Don’t know why” (Gerry Marsden) made popular by Norah Jones, daughter of Ravi Shankar.

  1.  One quiet night
  2.  Song for the boys
  3.  Don’t know why
  4.  Another chance
  5.  Time goes on
  6.  My song
  7.  Peace memory
  8.  Ferry cross the Mersey
  9.  Over on 4th street
  10.  I will find the way
  11.  North to south, east to west
  12.  Last train home

Preview Album >>


About the Author

Stef Ramin is the webmaster and eBook’s author on, lessons for beginner and advanced guitarists. Passionate about jazz and blues music, he is an experienced musician, composer and guitar teacher.


More Articles on Top Guitarists:

The post Top 5 Acoustic Guitar Jazz Albums appeared first on The Guitar Journal.

Categories: General Interest

Fender American Precision Bass Guitar Review

The Gear Vault - Wed, 11/29/2017 - 08:03

Fender’s Precision Bass has long been the industry standard in electric bass guitars. If you’re reading this article, this isn’t anything you haven’t heard before. However, it seems nowadays the simplicity, durability, and thunderous time-tested growl of this instrument has fallen slightly out of favor, and we see more and more bassists relying on the active EQs, hyper thin necks, and high output pickups of the type that the Ibanez Soundgear series originally made popular.

The post Fender American Precision Bass Guitar Review appeared first on Gear Vault.

Categories: General Interest

The 10 Best Gifts for Guitar Players

TrueFire - Mon, 11/27/2017 - 08:00

Gifts for guitar players can be hard to find, but with this list of the 10 best gifts for guitarists, you’ll be able to find the perfect present! If you’re stumped on what birthday present, Christmas gift, or other holiday gifts for guitar players to get this year, no worries — we’ve got you covered!…

The post The 10 Best Gifts for Guitar Players appeared first on TrueFire's Guitar Blog.

The Beach Boys and Their Guitars - Surf Music Part Two

The Unique Guitar Blog - Sun, 11/26/2017 - 09:08

The Original Beach Boys
Jan and Dean

The instrumental surf bands were great, however the other part of surf music were the vocal bands. Most of these groups yielded only one hit wonders. Jan and Dean stand out as an exception and had sixteen hit records from 1959 to 1966. Both were singers, and did not play instruments in their concerts.

The Rip Chords

Another surf band of this era was The Rip Chords. They had a hit with "Hey Little Cobra". Ironically Bruce Johnson, who would go on to become one of the Beach Boys, was a member of this group.

The Hondells
The Hondells were a surf group with great vocals and harmonies. They had a big hit with the Brian Wilson/Mike Love penned song; "Little Honda". This band was put together by Beach Boy lyricists Roger Christian and Gary Usher. Usher and Christian penned lyrics for many of the Beach Boys Hot Rod songs.

The Hondells started out in the studio, as a fictitious band. They were later assembled with real perfomers after their version of Little Honda became a national hit. Studio musician Chuck Girard sang the vocals on the recording, and members of the Wrecking Crew provided the instrumental support. Girard later to become a well-known Christian singer-songwriter, and member of the Christian band, Love Song. The Hondells appeared in several of the surf based teen movies of the day.

The Beach Boys 

But by far the most famous vocal surf group was The Beach Boys.  After five decades, their music still has a strong following with concert goers of all ages.

The Wilson brothers grew up in a Hawthorne California bungalow in the 1950’s.

Audree and Murray Wilson

The father of the three Wilson brothers, Murray Wilson
, was injured in an industrial accident and lost an eye. During his long recuperation he began writing music, and came out with a couple of popular songs. This launched his career in the music business.

The Wilson brothers at their home
His oldest son Brian grew up listening to his father playing piano and organ, By the time Brian was 16, he had taught himself to play piano, and taken some music training in high school. It also helped that his middle class family found joy in singing accapella songs together along with their mother, Audree.

Brian also enjoyed listening to the popular music of the day, which included recordings by The Four Freshman, and the hit records by the Ronettes, the Crystals, and Darlene Love.

Brian had this amazing inherent ability to hear the different parts of each vocal, and each instrumental segment. This gave him the skill to dissect each musical line in his head. Some study at a music conservatory for years to develop this craft. Brian was blessed with this gift.

Brian shared a bedroom with his brothers Dennis, and Carl, and for fun he recruited them, neighbor David Marks, and the Wilson's cousin, Mike Love, as well as friend Alan Jardine, to sing harmonies on the songs that he loved. The Wilson boys would even sing in harmony for their family gatherings.

Later on Brian received a reel-to-reel tape recorder and learned how to overdub vocals.  This lead to further recording adventures.

Beach Boys - Torrence High School 1962
Once when the parents left the boys alone, to take a brief get-away to Mexico, Brian and his brothers used the money that their father left them to buy food and went to Hogan’s Music store and rented two guitars, a bass guitar, a drum kit, an amplifier, and a microphone. They then came home and recorded a song that Brian had written called “Surfin".

Another version states that Al Jardine's mother financed the equipment rental. This may be more plausible, since an adult would have to sign a rental agreement.

As Dennis was the only surfer in the group, and we can thank him for prodding Brian to write this song. If not for him, the Beach Boys may have been a long forgotten Folk music group.

By the time the parents arrived home from their trip, the father, Murray, was furious that the boys had used all the food money to rent instruments, until he listened to the recording and realized that his sons were very talented.

The Pendletones
Murray took the boys to a recording studio to make professional demos of two surfing songs that Brian and Mike had written, then he shopped them around to record promoters. At the time the band was known as The Pendletones. Eventually Candix Records picked up their songs and released the demos as promotional records.

The Beach Boys - Candix Records

The company had changed the name  to The Beach Boys by one of the companies promoters without telling the group. At first the members disliked the name, but it stuck and their fame grew.

The Beach Boys "Surfin' Safari 1962
From 1961 to 1966 The Beach Boys had a string of hits, with lyrics about surfing, cars, summer, and high school life, which pretty much summed up white youth culture in Southern California during this era; a culture that much of the rest of the United States envied.

Their first hit was Surfin', later followed up by Surfin' Safari.

The Beach Boys on the Ed Sullivan Show
In 1962, Al Jardine left the group to go to college and was replaced by original member David Marks. Marks was still a teen in school when the groups success lead to touring. Brian continued to write the music for hit songs, though all of the lyrics were done by co-writers, which at times included Mike Love.

Brian did not like to tour and was having some emotional and health issues.  In 1964  he had a traumatic panic attack during a chartered flight. After that experience, he told the group that he could no longer perform, and wanted to stay home and write music. Around this same time, Al Jardine was dissatisfied with undergraduate school, wanted back in the music business. He was invited back to play bass guitar and sing Brian's vocal parts.

David Marks
By late 1963, David Marks could take no more of the heavy handed approach of Murray Wilson, the father of the Wilson boys, and their self-appointed manager. Marks left the group, and Al Jardine, who by now had taken Brian's place as the Beach Boys bass player took over the rhythm guitar parts.

Glen Campbell as a Beach Boy

A new bass player was recruited. The job fell briefly to Glen Campbell, and later in 1965 Bruce Johnston, officially became a Beach Boy.

Murray looks on as the boys play music
Within a few years, Brian was feeling the pressure of writing music, producing and arranging music, recording the music, and fending off the critical directions from his father. In a difficult move, Brian became angry with his father's continual fault finding.

During a recording session at Capitol Records, while Murray was barking orders, Brian shoved his father against a wall, fired him as the groups manager and ordered him to leave.

Pet Sounds -
Their first album not about surf music or cars
Brian Wilson realized that Surf Music, and songs about Hot Rods, high school life, and endless summer were but a fad, and turned his attention to other themes for The Beach Boys music. Though the band members, especially Mike Love, were apprehensive about "killing off their magic formula".

This was actually turned out to be a great move and it accounted for the groups longevity.

The Beach Boys 50th Anniversary tour
At age 75, Brian Wilson, Mike Love, and Al Jardine have celebrated over 50 years as The Beach Boys. They have outlasted most of their peers, and survived the death of some of the group members; Dennis, and Carl. They have lived through divorce, illness, and lawsuits.

Mike Love's Beach Boys
Presently Mike Love is touring with a band known as The Beach Boys. Through the years the band  has reinvented themselves and hired younger musicians to perform in concert. Brian has overcome his personal demons and has been on the road for years, and is still writing new songs.

Al Jardine and Carl Wilson

Al Jardine, and Carl Wilson never claimed to be great guitarists, but they were certainly good enough to play in concert. Dennis Wilson life was all about having a good time. He was never a great drummer, but he could sure keep the beat, and kept the eyes of the ladies. Dennis also wrote some wonderful songs.

The Wrecking Crew
In my opinion, the original recordings were great. The band members played their own played instruments on all of those albums. When Brian made Pet Sounds and hired  professional studio players to play the instrumental parts on their recordings, the Beach Boys sound changed dramatically.

I believe Brian's desire to create huge orchestrated productions of his songs stemmed from a desire he had in the back of his mind for  many years. Brian always had a huge admiration for Phil Spector's production technique, and showed up at his recording sessions, just to watch Spector create his "Wall of Sound". Brian and his brothers also had a friendship with John Maus of the Walker Brothers. The Walker Brothers songs had backing arrangements similar to those Brian was about to develop.

The Pet Sounds album was a huge musical turning point in the Beach Boys career.

Brian coaches bassist Lyle Ritz.
 Drummer Jim Gordon in the back
Brian had all these sounds and arrangements in his mind and needed to get them on record. He could not get this sound with just two guitars, a bass and drums. So he hired a group of studio musicians that eventually came to be known as The Wrecking Crew.

At first the "Wrecking Crew" was a derogatory slur given to this group of players by the "suits" that usually did the background music for Capitol Records arrangements. They thought these musicians were going to wreck the industry by playing pop music, instead of contributing their talent to recordings like Montavani's 1000 strings. Years later members of the "Wrecking Crew" embraced the term. You hear them play on literally thousands of popular hit songs from the 1960's through the 1980's, that were made by thousands of artists.  None of the members ever got credit for their work.

These musicians loved working for Brian. His sessions were long, and the players were paid by the hour. Pet Sounds wound up costing over $70,000 to make and it was not at all financially successful.

At the time the fan base may not have understood the direction that The Beach Boys had taken. But it yielded four of The Beach Boys best songs; Wouldn't It Be Nice,  Sloop John B, God Only Knows, and the mournful Caroline No (which lyricist Tony Asher originally wrote as "Carol, I Know", but Brian misunderstood). In an effort to recoup their money, Capitol Records did not wait long after the release of Pet Sounds, to release a compilation album called The Beach Boys Greatest Hits.

Bruce, Brian, Al, and Dennis
 record vocals
During the early days, between tour dates Al, Carl, Mike, and the new guy, Bruce Johnston, would go to the studio with Brian and lay down the vocal tracks over the already recorded music tracks. Carl was the only Beach Boy to play guitar on any of the recordings.

Brian working with Hal Blaine
Most of the parts were played by the pro's, who penciled in the parts during those sessions, where Brian would hum or sing each part to them. Some parts were made up on the spot. such as Carol Kaye''s great bass line on Good Vibrations.

The Beach Boys (The Pendletones)
Carl Wilson, Al Jardine, and David Marks played guitar for the Beach Boys in concert and even on the first recordings. It is difficult to track down many of the guitars seen in the early black and white videos, because, as Al Jardine explains, “..we kept losing them because we toured so much. They’d get stolen right off the back of the truck. We could never keep them in stock. 

We’d just have to get new ones, so I don’t have a clue where they are.. So through the Sixties we’d just keep recycling them.” 

However we do know about some of the guitars that The Beach Boys used.

Carl took guitar lessons at an accordion studio near Hawthorne, and from a musician that lived in the area named John Maus. John was in a group called The Walker Brothers, and taught guitar out of his home which was a couple of blocks around the corner from the Wilson family home.

Carl with Rickenbacker model 360
One of the guitars that the Wilsons' rented from Hogan's Music to do the original home recordings was a six string Rickenbacker. There are no existing photos of those rental instruments. But we do know that early on, Carl played a Rickenbacker in concert

1959 Carvin Electric guitar

David Marks parents bought him a Sears Silvertone acoustic guitar in 1958. A year later he purchased a Carvin electric guitar from John Maus.

1959 Kay model K899OJC

Carl acknowledged his first guitar was a Kay hollow body electric guitar that he received as a  Christmas present. He played this guitar unplugged on the recording of Surfin’.

Carl '62 Stratocaster

Once the record was released, the Beach Boys needed better equipment. Carl purchased a 1962 sunburst Fender Stratocaster, which he used briefly. Al Jardine was originally the bass player, and for a while played a stand-up string bass. This would figure, as Al was a fan of folk music. He is responsible for introducing the song, Sloop John B, which is properly titled, The John B. Sails. to Brian. If it was up to Al, the Beach Boys would have been a folk group.

We do not know what type of guitar Al used on early recordings, but due to the sound, we are fairly certain it was not a Fender.

Brian with his
'62 Fender Precision Bass

Brian’s first bass was a sunburst ‘62 Fender Precision Bass.

David Marks
 '62 Stratocaster

When Al Jardine left the group to go to school and David Marks came back he was playing a Rickenbacker, before switching to a ‘62 Sunburst Fender Stratocaster.

The Beach Boys amplifiers
Carl and David were playing through Fender amplifiers from the start. Marks used a white tolex Dual Showman, and  Carl Wilson had a 1955-60 tweed Fender Bassman, along with a 1962 Fender Reverb unit. Brian played bass through a tweed Fender Bassman amplifier.

Carl's '62 Jaguar and Al's '62 Stratocaster

Later in 1962, Carl got his Olympic white Fender Jaguar. In 1963 Marks purchased a similar

Carl with Rickenbacker 360/12

In 1964 Carl added a Fire Glow (red sunburst) Rickenbacker 360/12, that he used on some songs.

Beach Boys '63 Al with Gibson SG
By 1964 Al Jardine was in the group again, replacing David Marks. Al originally used a white Gibson SG, but eventually got an Olympic White Fender Stratocaster.  At this time Brian was playing a 1962 Olympic White Fender Precision bass.

The Beach Boys 1964 Concert

In 1964 both Carl and Al usually played through 1960-63 white tolex Fender Dual Showman amplifiers, and 1962 Fender stand-alone reverb units. They also used an Ampeg B-15 Portaflex bass amp.

At some concerts they used a Fender 1961-62 Bassman amp with a 1964 white Tolex cabinet.

Carl with Epiphone 12

Besides the 1963 white Jaguar and the fire glow Rickenbacker 360/12, Carl Wilson used some other guitars in concert. These include a sunburst Epiphone Rivera 12-string, that he used on Help Me Rhonda, and Sloop John B.

Carl Gibson ES-335

Carl also owned a Blonde Gibson ES-335, with a Bigsby that he purchased in 1970 from a friend for $300,

Carl - Gibson ES-335 12 string

In addition to the Epiphone 12 string, Carl also owned a red-burst Gibson 12 string Es-335, both a black Les Paul, a sunburst Gibson ES-345, and a red Les Paul, and an Olympic white Fender Stratocaster.

Carl with yellow Stratocaster

He also owned the a tobacco-burst Epiphone 12 string pictured above and, a yellow Fender Stratocaster, that he named Old Yeller, and a yellow Fender Telecaster.

Carl's red Baldwin 12 string

He also owned a blonde Fender Stratocaster, a red Baldwin 12 string, and a Les Paul Jr.

Carl with Yamaha APX700

As for acoustic guitars, Carl owned a Martin D-41, a Gibson J-200, and a Yamaha APX700 acoustic-electric.

Carl with Fender XII
and Dual Showman amp

Over the years a few guitars were stolen that include a Fender XII 12 string, and a Martin D-76 Bicentennial model.

Carl with a white Fender Telecaster

There are a few unusual guitar that he also played which included a white Fender Telecaster with a Bigsby unit. Fender did not offer those until 1967.

Carl and Al Jardine may of received that gratis from Fender, since the Beach Boys did start endorsing Fender products in 1962.

A music dealer once offered Carl a Mosrite, like the ones The Ventures played, in exchanged for endorsements, but he turned that down.

Carl with custom Fender Lucite guitar

Fender also built Carl a special one-of-a-kind Lucite guitar. This guitar  was a prototype model that never went on the market. It was hand built by Roger Rossmeisl. The body was somewhat similar in shape to a Stratocaster.

Fender custom Lucite guitar
This guitar had twin Seth Lover designed Fender Wide-Range Telecaster pickups. The unusually shaped neck was straight off of a Fender Starcaster, which was another Rossmeisll creation. The neck was capped with a rosewood fretboard, that had block pearloid markers.

The guitar also had a vibrato unit, similar to the Fender Mustang vibrato.

Al Jardine with '62 Fender Stratocaster

Al Jardine is usually seen playing his stock Olympic White Stratocaster.

Al Jardine with a black Stratocaster

Though at some venues, he used a black Fender Stratocaster.

Al Jardine -
white Fender Jaguar

However Al also played a Fender Jaguar on some songs.

The 1967 white Telecaster with the Bigsby unit, that Carl is playing in a few videos may have actually belonged to Al. Al has a relationship with Fender Musical Instruments and Senior VP Richard McDonald. They still ship him equipment if he needs it.

Al Jardine with Martin D-45

During the 1980's and 1990's,  Al usually plays a white or red 1962 replica Stratocaster, with a rosewood neck, through a Fender Twin Reverb amplifier. He also owns some Martin acoustic guitars.

Fender Twin Reverb amplifier

The Fender Twin Reverb was designed to be a combo version of the Dual Showman, although it has two 12” speakers with  85 watts of RMS power.

Through the later years the Beach Boys generally relied on Fender Twin Reverb amps in concert, I’ve also read that at one point they used Dumble amplifiers.

Mitchell Pro-100 amplifier

Carl owned a Mitchell amplifier the he really liked.

Beach Boys 50th Anniversary Tour
During their 50th Anniversary concert, the Beach Boys played through Fender Hot Rod Deville amps.

Carl was the  usually the only Beach Boy to play guitar or bass on their recordings, although some of their first albums featured the members of the band doing the instrumentals.These were the albums done before the Wrecking Crew stepped in to do the instrumental parts.

Carl playing bass in the studio

In an interview Carl stated that most of the guitar parts were recorded using a direct box to the mixing console unless Brian wanted an over driven sound and then they cranked up the amplifier.

David Marks at a guitar clinic
David Marks, he said the group originally used Fender flat-wound strings on their guitars. Carl stated that he switched to Ernie Ball medium gauge strings in the mid-1960’s. As the years progressed he continued to use Ernie Ball strings, but went to lighter, slinky strings.

David Marks and the Marksmen

As for David Marks, he left the Beach Boys after the first five albums, but he maintained a career in music; first with his band, David Marks and the Marksmen, and later as a studio player. He is seen in this picture with a 1960's era Epiphone Crestwood guitar.

David Marks with Dennis Wilson

Marks studied classical and modern music with Warren Zevon, and Robert Kraft. Marks also worked and recorded with composer Mike Curb, who wrote a lot of television theme music, and in the 1960’s put together a group called The MIke Curb Congregation.

Marks came back to The Beach Boys in the 1990’s when Carl became ill. It was only supposed to be a temporary gig. Sadly Carl passed away, and Marks stayed on and was prominently featured in the 50th Anniversary concert.

Early concert with
Al on bass and David Marks

As the years have passed, there have been a lot of legal feuds between the band members. Money talks.

Beach Boys 50th Anniversary

After the 50th Anniversary tour ended Mike Love, through legal maneuvering took possession of the legal name; The Beach Boys, from Brother Record Incorporated. That keeps the money flow going.

Mike Love

Prior to that, Mike Love was touring as America’s Band along with Bruce Johnson and David Marks.

Al Jardine and
the Endless Summer Band
Al Jardine began touring as The Beach Boys; Family and Friends; a band that included several children of Beach Boy members including Brian's daughters, Wendy and Carnie.  A court order was issued to halt using Jardine from using that name. He also toured as the Endless Summer Band, with his son Matthew.

Lawsuits and counter suits resulted. The 50th Anniversary Concert was a truce, and the band rallied to record one more Brian Wilson song called That’s Why God Made The Radio.

Due to discontent and legal bickering between the members, and the deaths of the two Wilson brothers, it is unlikely we will ever see the original Beach Boys perform together again. But it was such a good run while it lasted. And we still have all those great recordings.
The Beach Boys in the U.K.
The Beach Boys music lives on despite the fact that the remaining members are in their mid-70's. Their music is upbeat, fun,  great to dance to, and the lyrics speak to many generations.

Click on the links under the photos for sources. Click on the links in the text for further information.
©UniqueGuitar Publications (text only)

Categories: General Interest

10 Guitar Accessories Under $20 Guitarists MUST Have

TrueFire - Sun, 11/26/2017 - 07:31

Most guitarists suffer from what is known as G.A.S. – gear acquisition syndrome – and we’re all on a life-long hunt for the ideal rig. If we all had a dollar for every piece of new gear we’ve purchased over the years, we’d all be playing ukes on the beaches of Tahiti. Checking out what…

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16 Guitar Effects Pedals Every Guitar Player MUST Have

TrueFire - Sat, 11/25/2017 - 07:00

If you’re one of those “I plug directly into the amp and don’t need no stinkin’ guitar effects pedals” kinda dude, then godspeed and thanks for stopping by. On the other hand, if you own a pedal board upon which you trip the light fantastic, stick around — this list of guitar effects pedals you…

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12 Awesome Gifts for Guitarists

TrueFire - Fri, 11/24/2017 - 01:00

‘Tis the season for gift giving, and we want to help you find the best gifts for guitarists. It can be difficult to find a good gift for a guitar player, especially if you don’t play guitar, so this holiday season we are offering up a number of great guitar gifts. In addition to our…

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10 Great Gifts for the Acoustic Guitarist

The Guitar Journal - Thu, 11/23/2017 - 22:17

The holidays approach and gift-giving is in full swing. As a musician, my family often wondered what to get me for Christmas and birthdays.  “He’s so hard to buy for”. And I get it.  Music is a highly specialized field, and personal opinions about gear and brands run hot.  So it’s intimidating to buy a gift for a musician.  But never fear, this article is here to help.

Here are 10 great gifts for the acoustic guitarist that are easy, inexpensive, and sure to be a hit.

(Hint: forward this to your family).


The Gift List

Guitar Cleaning Kit

Great GIfts for an Acoustic Guitarist - Dunlop Maintenance Kit

Every guitarist I know wants their guitar to be in good shape.  But very FEW guitarists that I know have the tools to keep their acoustic guitar clean and well-maintained.

A package like Dunlop’s 6500 Guitar Maintenance Kit provide everything you need to keep the fretboard, frets, and body of the guitar clean and cared for – just like high quality wood should be.

View Dunlop Maintenance Kit >>


Best Gifts for Acoustic Guitarists - Shubb Capo

Guitarists always need capos. Theoretically, we could make do with one.  But, inevitably, you’ve left it in the car when you need it in the house.  Or you left it at church on the stand when you’re trying to practice at home. So you can always use another…or maybe three.  This is a fail-safe gift.

This is the capo you should buy. It’s the popular capo for a reason – it’s durable, highly accurate, and has been running strong with the same design for decades.

View Shubb Capo >>


Best Guitar Gifts for Acoustic Guitar Players - Lessons

Finding a local music shop and teach to get a gift voucher for is difficult.  Instead, do online video lessons. I recommend lessons because they have a huge library of courses for all levels and genres. And the subscription gives you access to everything.  Beginning folk? Check. Advanced heavy metal solos? Check. With a gift like this, the guitarist can choose any course that suits them and the change it up next month if they want.

JamPlay has gift vouchers that allow you to send a digital code.  So you can print it out and put it in a card, or just email it to your niece cross country.

Get gift voucher from JamPlay >>


Best Gifts for Acoustic Guitarists - Snark tuner

Again, guitarists always need tuners. And, again, one is really never enough. Having one for the studio and one for the house (and one to leave in the case) is super nice!  I’ve written a longer post on which tuner is right for you, so you can take a look at that for more reviews.  But this is the most popular (and inexpensive) tuner out there, used by beginners and experts alike.

Check out the Snark tuner >>

Wall Mount

Best Gifts for Acoustic Guitarist

Nothing says commitment to the craft like putting that guitar up on the wall!  This wall mount allows you to easily hang any type of acoustic guitar on the wall.  It will look great and the guitar will be instantly available to take down and jam whenever.  I had one of these in my office for several years and loved it.

This wall mount is nice because it comes with the hardware to hang on drywall, plus has a nice wood base that looks  “acoustic-y”.

View the String Swing wall mount >>

Restringing Kit

Great Guitar Gifts for Acoustic Players - StringWinder

There’s not many tools you need for acoustic guitar.  Sure, you need picks and strings and stuff.  But the only tools you really need are this restringing kit. It has the wire cutters for trimming guitar strings, and the notched turner for quickly stringing a guitar.

A simple, inexpensive gift that saves many hours of time.

View 3-in-1 Restringing Tool >>


Best Guitar Gifts for Acoustic Guitar Players - Picks

Speaking of which, picks are a great gift!  There’s two ways to go on this:

a) if you know what the guitarist uses, buy a big package of those.  I once bought a 72-pack of Dunlop .60mm Mediums and LOVED it. I never had to wonder if I had lost all my picks. I’d just stash them everywhere – guitar case, wallet, car, dresser.

b) If you don’t know what the guitarist uses, but a mixed pack for them to experiment with. This package is general purpose that would suit most guitarists – folks playing rock, country, pop, folk, even jazz.  This thumbpick pack would be a great fit for fingerstyle players who are trying out the popular Tommy Emmanuel style of playing. (You can also check out a post I did going more in depth on thumb pick options.)

View Assorted Pick Pack >>

View Thumbpick Pack >>


10 Great Gifts for the Acoustic Guitarist

Guitarists change their strings often. For some, it’s every week or two. For other, it’s every month or two.  But, inevitably, a guitarist is constantly throwing $15 at their guitar to keep the strings fresh and sounding great. Similar to picks, you can do this two ways:

a) If you know the strings they use, just buy 1 (or 3!) packs of those. It’s always nice to have those handy.

b) If you don’t know the strings, it’s a bit more difficult.  There’s no easy way to do a “variety pack” like with picks. Instead, I would recommend Medium-Light strings by Elixir. These are super popular strings that are high quality, last a long time, and are the right weight for most players.  They’re like blue jeans. Everybody looks good in them.

View Elixir Strings >>


Great Guitar Gifts for Acoustic Guitar Players - Humidifier

Too many guitarists ignore, or forget, the benefits of a humidifier. Acoustic guitars are (almost exclusively) made of wood.  Wood expands and contracts in hot and cold temperatures, as well as with humidity changes.  If you want to keep your guitar sounding good and avoid problems like cracks, raised frets, or difficulty in tuning – you need a humidifier.

Fortunately, these are not at all expensive.  This humidifier is a popular model that sits in the soundhole of the guitar while it’s in the case.  Easy and inexpensive – but a great gift.

View D’Addario Soundhole Humdifier >>

Guitar Stand

Great Guitar Gifts for Acoustic Guitar Players - Guitar Stand

Guitarists, particularly beginners, can fall into the habit of laying their guitar down wherever convenient – on the bed, the stage, the living room floor. This is not good, though! Guitars laying flat in these places are easy targets for getting stepped on, dropped on, etc.  The correct solution, of course, is a guitar stand.

There are a lot of versions of guitar stands.  Some are fancy, some are minimalist.  But this one is a tried’n’true design that has served guitarists for decades and decades.

View Guitar Stand >>


Got some other ideas? Put them in the notes below!


The post 10 Great Gifts for the Acoustic Guitarist appeared first on The Guitar Journal.

Categories: General Interest

Top 10 Electric Guitars Under $500

TrueFire - Thu, 11/23/2017 - 12:41

So you want to shred without all the lettuce. You want to strum without losing all your Benjamins. You want an electric guitar without spending loads of money…is what these metaphors mean. Probably over-explaining it now. If you’re looking for an affordable electric guitar that doesn’t sacrifice quality, you’ve come to the right place. Let’s…

The post Top 10 Electric Guitars Under $500 appeared first on TrueFire's Guitar Blog.

The 10 Best Acoustic Guitars Under $500

TrueFire - Wed, 11/22/2017 - 08:56

So you’ve got a chunk of change burning through your pocket, eh? Well we’re here to help you make sure you’re putting your money towards the best acoustic guitar for the price. While you can definitely spend much more than 500 Benjamins on an acoustic guitar, it’s still totally possible to get an incredible guitar…

The post The 10 Best Acoustic Guitars Under $500 appeared first on TrueFire's Guitar Blog.


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