General Interest

Top 7 Best Guitar Stools (or “Guitar Throne”, if you’re feeling awesome…)

The Guitar Journal - Wed, 10/25/2017 - 12:07

The oft-overlooked, but so-essential guitar gear: the guitar stool.

Or maybe you call it a “guitar throne” if: a) you happen to feel awesome today, or b) you’ve been hanging out with drummers lately (they insist on calling their stool a “throne”).

So Why Get a Special Guitar Stool?

Having a well-suited guitar stool helps you as a guitarist in a number of ways:

  • It makes it easier to hold the guitar in a playable position.
  • It’s more comfortable to play for longer periods.
  • You’re able to interact with a recording studio desk or other gear.
  • It physically lifts your body, freeing your diaphragm for better singing technique while you play.

Just Two Requirements

The main two things you want to avoid in a guitar stool are:

  • Arms. Obviously, chair arms get in the way.
  • Too low. Anything that decreases your knee angle below 90deg (your butt is below your knees) is going to make it difficult to play well, especially with an acoustic guitar.

Other than that, it’s really about preference and knowing the environment you’ll be playing in.

So here are the top 7 best guitar stools (or at least stool “types”, since there’s any number of Task Chairs out there like the Amazon selection below).

The Guitar Stools List




Top 7 Best Guitar Stools (or “Guitar Throne”, if you’re feeling awesome…) - Amazon Basic

AmazonBasics Low-Back Task Chair

Product Description:

  • Comfortable task chair upholstered in black fabric
  • Padded seat and back for all-day comfort and support
  • Pneumatic seat-height adjustment; 360-degree swivel; smooth-rolling casters
  • 250-pound maximum weight capacity; assembly instructions included
  • Measures 25.2 by 18.7 by 34.6 to 37.8 inches (LxWxH); 1-year limited warranty


The basic office chair. Comfortable, inexpensive. Well-suited to situations where you’re recording and switching between playing guitar, the computer, keyboard, etc.

View on Amazon >>


Top 7 Best Guitar Stools (or “Guitar Throne”, if you’re feeling awesome…) - Bar stool

Torin TRP6185 Swivel Seat Shop/Bar Stool, Black

Product Description:

The Torin Big Red Swivel Stool features include a padded black vinyl swivel seat, a polished chrome plated heavy duty tubular steel base and a comfortable footrest.

  • Black vinyl swivel seat, swivels 360 degrees for easy and efficient movement
  • Chrome plated heavy duty steel frame
  • Large 14 1/2 inch diameter cushioned seat is made of high density foam padding
  • All four legs come with anti-slip protective caps
  • Easy to assemble


The classic bar stool with cushion top. Always in style, always comfortable.

View on Amazon>>


Top 7 Best Guitar Stools (or “Guitar Throne”, if you’re feeling awesome…) - seat and stand

Gator Frameworks Combination Guitar Performance Seat and Single Guitar Stand (GFW-GTR-SEAT)

Product Description:

The Gator Frameworks GFW-GTR-SEAT combination guitar seat and single guitar stand provides a place to sit comfortably for you and your guitar. This heavy-duty combination boasts a 300-pound weight capacity and is a perfect height for any musician. The seat furnishes soft support with a durable, thick padded cushion and removable ergonomic backrest. A built-in safety pin ensures stability while the rubber no-slip feet keep you grounded. When actively playing, and using the seat the guitar stand on the bottom front legs neatly folds up and secures out of the way of your toe-tapping feet.

When it’s time to take a break, fold out the guitar stand and slip your guitar on to the finish friendly, rubberized arms and rest the neck against the soft micro-suede patch on the cushion. Removable, red safety rings are provided on the feet to reduce the Risk of tripping in dark venues or on shadowy stages. The collapsible, compact design makes it easy to pack up and store. For tighter storage areas simply remove the backrest to break down the seat even further. When traveling local or abroad consolidating equipment is always a challenge and the Gator Frameworks combination guitar seat and single guitar stand offers a winning combination.

  • Guitar performance seat with built-in Guitar stand. Holds Acoustic, Electric and Bass Guitars
  • Collapsible design with quick release pin for compact storage
  • Durable, padded seat cushion with removable ergonomic backrest
  • 300lb weight capacity
  • Some assembly required, Hardware included


Nice combination stand and seat, ideal for farmer’s markets, etc.

View on Amazon>>


Top 7 Best Guitar Stools (or “Guitar Throne”, if you’re feeling awesome…) - Taylor

Taylor 24″ Logo Barstool – Brown

Product Description:

The Taylor Barstool is a 24″ stool sports a padded swivel seat with a Taylor Guitars logo. The foot ring lets you get your leg into the perfect playing position. Spruce up your studio and add some cool and useable furniture with the Taylor Barstool.

  • Barstool 24 inch
  • The Taylor Barstool fully supports you and your music
  • The classic design features a comfy, padded swivel seat in a black matte, vinyl finish with a gray Taylor logo
  • A foot ring adds to your playing comfort
  • 24 inch


When you want your acoustic guitar man cave to FEEL like an acoustic guitar man cave, this is the one.

View on Amazon>>


Top 7 Best Guitar Stools (or “Guitar Throne”, if you’re feeling awesome…) - wooden stool

Kitchen Counter Stool, 25″ counter stool, kitchen island stool, tiger maple, garny:

Product Description:

This is a 25″ high stool, designed for kitchen counters, kitchen island, playing an instrument or use it on stage. Hand carved from solid tiger maple wood following the anatomical curves of the human body. No pressure points, the whole surface of the stool will support the upper body.

  • Legs are supported with traditional mortis and tenon joints with walnut wedge.
  • The seat is a solid tiger maple 2″ thick and dyed with vintage orange.
  • Legs and stretchers are ash, painted with black milk paint. Footrest is also tiger maple.
  • Finished, first with multiple coats of tung oil and then carnauba – bees wax blend, so surface scratches can be buffed off.
  • Height: 25″
  • Sitting surface: width 17″, front to back: 15″


A really beautiful, wooden, hand-made stool for those with money to burn.

View on Etsy>>



Top 7 Best Guitar Stools (or “Guitar Throne”, if you’re feeling awesome…) - so nice

Guitar Stool/ Guitar Stand by Todd Fillingham

Product Description:

A stool that holds your guitar when you are not playing it. Your guitar is always ready even if you only have a few minutes to sit, relax and play a few chords before getting on with your day. Hardwood surfaces (walnut and ash) are finished with a custom, hand rubbed finish that improves with age and use. The pads are natural felt and cork and will not damage your guitar’s finish. Stability is enhanced with a counter weight under the front of the seat. Works best as a stand for hollow body guitars.

  • Handmade item
  • Materials: wood, walnut, ash, felt, cork, yacht braid


A TRULY beautiful, wooden, hand-made stool and stand combination. For those with even more money to burn.

View on Etsy>>


Top 7 Best Guitar Stools (or “Guitar Throne”, if you’re feeling awesome…) - curved

Curvy & Swervy in Cherry-n-Walnut Bar Stools:

Product Description:

These handsome and sturdy stools can be customized for you in any height, wood(s), or stain color. The curvy seats are comfortable and composed of walnut and the base is solid cherry. The standard height, ready-to-ship immediately is 31″ from floor to base of the seat but we can size them for you quickly! The stools include no-scuff feet for hard floors and they include heavy duty swivels for years and years of smooth operation. These stools include heavy duty swivels for years and years of twirling in your seat! The seats are a VERY comfortable 18″ wide.

  • Handmade item
  • Materials: Wood, Walnut, Cherry, Maple


A curvey chair for those who want that. Decent cost, decent quality.

View on Etsy>>


Interested in more acoustic gear recommendations? Check out the Gear page or look at my own simple rig for acoustic guitar.

Do you have another guitar stool you love?  Let us know in the comments below!

The post Top 7 Best Guitar Stools (or “Guitar Throne”, if you’re feeling awesome…) appeared first on The Guitar Journal.

Categories: General Interest

StingRay Bass Buying Guide

Ernie Ball Music Man - Mon, 10/23/2017 - 14:19

Since 1976 the StingRay bass has served as the gold standard of active electronic basses. With its famously punchy sound the StingRay defined the sound of slap bass that began exploding in funk and rock music in the mid-to-late-70’s onward. Over the course of its life the StingRay has become the soul of a whole line of basses with different electronics, woods, and configurations, some of which may seem difficult to sort out to the uninitiated. So we created this buying guide to help you choose what StingRay is right for you:

The StingRay:

This is the bass that started it all. Originally designed by Leo Fender and one of his closest collaborators Tom Walker, and beta tested by Sterling Ball, the StingRay bass features a uniquely powerful bridge position humbucker pickup, a 3-band EQ, an ash body, and a maple neck that is available with either maple or rosewood fingerboard. In single humbucker format StingRay Basses also have the option to come in a 2-band EQ variety. The StingRay is also one of the few EBMM basses that is available in left handed configuration (single humbucker 3-band EQ only)

Buy this if:

You love slap bass, comfortable bodies with iconic looks, superior craftsmanship, and the history of the first production active electronics bass.

Stingray HS/HH:

For years and years StingRay fans clamored for a bass offering with multiple pickups, so in 2005 the StingRay HS and HH models answered the long standing demands of bass players. Not only did these basses offer new tonal varieties due to the extra pickup, but EBMM offered unique switching capabilities not usually found on two humbucker basses such as coil split single coil sounds.


Buy this if:

You are a fan of StingRay Basses but require extra tonal versatility from neck position pickups.

Stingray Classic:

The Stingray Classic series took everything that people loved about the first production StingRay basses from the 70’s through the early 80’s. They feature strings through the body construction, a 2-band EQ similar to those found on first run StingRays which still allows for a versatile range of tone sculpting. The Classic series Stingray features a lacquered neck, a 6-bolt neck, and small profile nickel frets.


Buy this if:

You love everything about the StingRay but want extra resonance and sustain, and excellent upper fret access.

StingRay Neck Through:

The StingRay Neck Through design takes all of the great tone of the standard StingRay and pushes it further with the added sustain and upper fret access of a neck through design. Rather than following the set tradition of bolting a neck onto a body blank as StingRays had been designed since the beginning, the Stingray Neck Through takes a whole instrument length neck piece that runs from the top of the headstock all the way to the end of the body, and has two Ash wings that are affixed to the sides to complete the body shape.

Buy this if:

You want the comfort of enhanced upper fret access as well as limitless sustain, all in a visually pleasing package that provides potent punch.

Old Smoothie:

If you’re looking for a piece of StingRay history look no further. The StingRay 40th Anniversary model AKA “Old Smoothie” is a meticulous reproduction of the eponymous bass given to Sterling Ball by Leo Fender. Old Smoothie was the 26th prototype model of the StingRay that was being beta tested by Sterling at the time. Initially the StingRay was far too hot for most amps to handle, so in pragmatic Leo Fender fashion he decided to create a 10 pole humbucker that would set the magnets between the strings rather than underneath the strings. That bass became known as Old Smoothie, now 40+ years later EBMM is paying homage to the bass that started it all by providing a reproduction model as a way for the fans to get their hands on thee Old Smoothie.



Buy this if:

You want to go back to the bass that started it all. Old Smoothie’s unique 10 pole humbucker provides its namesake smooth sound and houses construction elements like the original “skunk stripe” neck and truss rod design, strings through the body, and a mute kit equipped bridge.

The StingRay bass has become the basis for a host of other instruments that either take from its history or move it forward into the future. The best players play StingRay basses, find yours today.

StingRay Bass Technical Specs and Comparison:

StingRay13-1/2" wide, 1-5/8" thick, 44-7/8" long (34.3 cm wide, 4.1 cm thick, 114.0 cm long)
StingRay Classic13-1/2" wide, 1-5/8" thick, 44-7/8" long (34.3 cm wide, 4.1 cm thick, 114.0 cm long)
StingRay Neck Through13-1/2" wide, 1-5/8" thick, 44-7/8" long (34.3 cm wide, 4.1 cm thick, 114.0 cm long)
Old Smoothie13-1/2" wide x 1-5/8" thick x 44-7/8" long (34.3 cm wide, 4.1 cm thick, 114.0 cm long)
StingRay9 lbs, 5 oz (4.22 kg) - varies slightly
StingRay Classic10lbs, 4 oz (4.65 kg) - varies slightly
StingRay Neck Through10 lbs, 0 oz (4.54 kg) - varies slightly
Old Smoothie9 lbs, 8 oz. (4.31 kg) - varies slightly
Body Wood
StingRay ClassicAsh
StingRay Neck ThroughAsh with maple through neck
Old SmoothieAlder
Body Finish
StingRayHigh gloss polyester
StingRay ClassicHigh gloss polyester
StingRay Neck ThroughHigh gloss polyester (Stealth Black is a matte finish)
Old SmoothieHigh gloss polyester
StingRayStandard - Music Man® chrome plated, hardened steel bridge plate with stainless steel saddles (Stealth Black finish features matte black hardware)
StingRay ClassicMusic Man® chrome plated, hardened steel bridge plate with "Classic" stainless steel saddles and adjustable mute pads
StingRay Neck ThroughStandard - Music Man® chrome plated, hardened steel bridge plate with stainless steel saddles (Stealth Black finish features matte black hardware)
Old SmoothieMusic Man® chrome plated, hardened steel bridge plate with vintage stainless steel saddles and adjustable mute pads
StingRayStandard - Black or White; Optional - Shell
StingRay ClassicStandard - Black or White; Optional - Shell
StingRay Neck ThroughStandard - Black or White; Optional - Shell
Old SmoothieWhite
Scale Length
StingRay34" (86.4 cm)
StingRay Classic34" (86.4 cm)
StingRay Neck Through34" (86.4 cm)
Old Smoothie34" (86.4 cm)
Neck Radius
StingRay11" (27.9 cm)
StingRay Classic7.5" (19.1 cm)
StingRay Neck Through11" (27.9 cm)
Old Smoothie7.5" (19.1 cm)
Headstock Size
StingRayOnly 8-3/4" (22.2 cm) long
StingRay ClassicOnly 8-1/4" (21.0 cm) long
StingRay Neck ThroughOnly 8-3/4" (22.2 cm) long
Old SmoothieOnly 8-3/4" (22.2 cm) long
StingRay21 - High profile, wide
StingRay Classic21 - High profile, narrow width
StingRay Neck Through21 - High profile, wide
Old Smoothie21 - Low profile, narrow width
Neck Width
StingRay1-5/8" (41.3 mm) at nut 2-1/2" (63.5 mm) at last fret; SLO Special -1-1/2" (38.1 mm) at nut, 2-1/2" (63.5 mm) at last fret
StingRay Classic1-5/8" (41.3 mm) at nut 2-1/2" (63.5 mm) at last fret
StingRay Neck Through1-5/8" (41.3 mm) at nut 2-1/2" (63.5 mm) at last fret
Old Smoothie1-5/8" (41.3 mm) at nut 2-1/2" (63.5 mm) at last fret
Neck Wood
StingRaySelect maple neck
StingRay ClassicFigured maple
StingRay Neck ThroughSelect maple neck
Old SmoothieSelect maple neck
StingRayFretted - maple or rosewood; Fretless - Pau Ferro with or without inlaid fretlines; Stealth Black - Ebony
StingRay ClassicFretted - maple or rosewood
StingRay Neck ThroughRosewood; (Ebony on Stealth Black Package)
Old SmoothieSelect maple
Neck Finish
StingRayGunstock oil and hand-rubbed special wax blend (Ultra-light satin polyurethane finish for Stealth Black)
StingRay ClassicHigh-gloss finish
StingRay Neck ThroughHigh gloss polyester (Stealth Black is a matte finish)
Old SmoothieHigh gloss polyester
Neck Colors
StingRayStandard - Natural; Optional - Matching painted headstock
StingRay ClassicNatural aged yellow finish
StingRay Neck ThroughColor matches body
Old SmoothieNatural aged light yellow finish
Tuning Machines
StingRaySchaller BM, with tapered string posts
StingRay ClassicSchaller BM, with tapered string posts
StingRay Neck ThroughSchaller BM, with tapered string posts
Old SmoothieSchaller BM, with tapered string posts
Truss Rod
StingRayAdjustable - no component or string removal
StingRay ClassicAdjustable - no component or string removal
StingRay Neck ThroughAdjustable - no component or string removal
Old SmoothieRear mounted adjustable - no component or string removal
Neck Attachment
StingRay6 bolts - perfect alignment with no shifting
StingRay Classic6 bolts - perfect alignment with no shifting
StingRay Neck ThroughThrough neck design
Old Smoothie6 bolts - perfect alignment with no shifting
Electronic Shielding
StingRayChrome plated brass control cover
StingRay ClassicChrome plated brass control cover
StingRay Neck ThroughChrome plated brass control cover
Old SmoothieChrome plated brass control cover
StingRaySingle Pickup, 2-band active preamp; vol, treble, bass; Dual Pickup, 3-band active preamp; vol, treble, mid, bass
StingRay ClassicSingle Pickup, 2-band active preamp; vol, treble, bass
StingRay Neck ThroughSingle Pickup, 2-band active preamp; vol, treble, bass; Dual Pickup, 3-band active preamp; vol, treble, mid, bass
Old SmoothieCustom "Old Smoothie" 2-band active preamp; vol, treble, bass
StingRaySingle Pickup - N/A; Dual Pickup - 5-way lever pickup selector
StingRay ClassicSingle Pickup - N/A
StingRay Neck ThroughSingle Pickup - N/A; Dual Pickup - 5-way lever pickup selector
Old SmoothieSingle Pickup - N/A
StingRayStandard - Music Man® humbucking with Alnico magnets; Optional - Dual Humbucking with Alnico magnets; Optional - Humbucking/Single coil with Alnico magnets
StingRay ClassicStandard - Music Man® humbucking with Alnico magnets
StingRay Neck ThroughStandard - Music Man® humbucking with Alnico magnets; Optional - Dual Humbucking with Alnico magnets; Optional - Humbucking/Single coil with Alnico magnets
Old SmoothieCustom "Old Smoothie" humbucking with 10 elongated Alnico magnets and split cover
Left Handed
StingRay ClassicNo
StingRay Neck ThroughNo
Old SmoothieNo
StingRay45w-65w-80w-100w (Super Slinky Bass #2834)
StingRay Classic45w-65w-80w-100w (Super Slinky Bass #2834)
StingRay Neck Through45w-65w-80w-100w (Super Slinky Bass #2834)
Old Smoothie45w-65w-80w-100w (Super Slinky Bass #2834)


Gibson Memphis Guitar Factory Is Up For Sale

The Unique Guitar Blog - Sun, 10/22/2017 - 09:35
Gibson Factory in Memphis
Gibson Guitars has put their downtown Memphis facility up for sale.

In a press release, the company implies that the Memphis factory is not closing, or leaving Memphis, but looking for a smaller space the the almost 128,000 building they currently occupy. Asking price is $17 million dollars, including a 330 space parking lot.

Gibson has been a Memphis fixture for the past 18 years. When it was built it had a large entertainment facility that has not been used in the past few years.

Unconfirmed source state the Gibson Brands Incorporated has accrued considerable debt.

Inside the Memphis Plant
The agents handling the sale stated, “They are definitely going to stay in Memphis, but when this venue was built it had a large entertainment venue (that) hasn’t been utilized in a couple of years,” he said. “And that’s approximately half of the building.”

They go on to say that the Memphis plant will not be closing anytime soon. It is estimated that it will take 18 to 24 months to find a new home.

Gibson Memphis Plant
Gibson has three factories that produce their instruments. The facility in Memphis builds the ES semi-hollow body electric guitars and all of their custom instruments. In Nashville, Tennessee, Gibson’s solid body guitars are produced, and in Bozeman, Montana, Gibson’s acoustic guitars are created.

Gibson Brands CEO Henry Juskiewicz
In a press release, Gibson CEO Henry Juszkiewicz states: “We are extremely excited about the next phase of growth we believe will benefit both our employees, and the Memphis community. 

I remember when our property had abandoned buildings, and Beale Street was in decline. It is with great prid that I can see the development of this area with a basketball arena, hotel, and a resurgent pride in the musical heritage of the great city of Memphis. We continue to love the Memphis community and hope to be a key contributor to its future when we move nearby to a more appropriate location for our manufacturing based business allowing the world the benefit or our great American craftsmen.”

Epiphone Les Paul Standards.

In addition to the Gibson brand name, Gibson also owns the Epiphone, Kramer, Maestro, Kalamazoo, Dobro, and Valley Arts brand names for guitars.

Baldwin Piano

The company owns the Slingerland Drum Company, as well as the Baldwin, Wurlitzer, Chickering, and Hamilton piano brand names.

Slingerland drums are no longer being manufacutred.  Some of the other guitar brands are no longer being made, while others, that were once American brands, are now being outsourced to Asian manufacturers.

Gibson Innovations products
Surprisingly, Gibson Brands largest business in not in guitars, but in its electronics and audio businesses. Gibson Innovations is a licensee of Phillips brand audio, Gibson also owns the Onkyo Corporation, which produces Onkyo and Pioneer brands.

Teac Mixer
They own both the Tascam and Teac Corporation, including their Esoteric brands. Gibson owns Cerwin Vega, Stanton, KRK Systems and the software company; Cakewalk.

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

Categories: General Interest

Carvin Audio Closes It's Doors After 71 Years Of Business

The Unique Guitar Blog - Sat, 10/21/2017 - 05:18
Carvin Audio

On October the 11th, the owners of Carvin Audio announced that after 71 years of being in business they are closing.

LC Kiesel demonstrates
a mandolin pickup and an amplifier
Carvin guitars and amplifiers is a company started by Lowell C. Kiesel in San Diego California back in 1946. At that time Mr. Kiesel had created a stringed instrument pickup. This was at a time when the steel guitar was very popular, especially for Country and Western bands that were spring up in Southern California.

LC Kiesel playing steel
 on a Martin guitar

Kiesel was an accomplished steel guitar player.

Within a year Kiesel moved his location and began manufacturing steel guitars. By 1949 he set up a larger facility in Baldwin Park, California  This same year Lowell changed the companies name from Kiesel Guitars, to Carvin Guitars. Carvin was an amalgamation of the names of Lowell’s sons; Carson and Gavin.

'56 Carvin #1-SGB

The companies earliest guitars, and basses were very basic, but functional. They utilized necks made by Höfner, and pickups manufactured by DeArmond. In addition to their own guitars, Carvin also offered Martin guitars, Fender guitars, and Sonola accordions. They also offered a complete line of steel and pedal steel guitars.

1976 Carvin guitars
By the mid 1970’s the quality of Carvin guitars had greatly improved, and in addition to  their own line of amplifiers, they were offering professional audio equipment.

Later in the decade they expanded into recording equipment, stage lighting, and other studio equipment.

1976 Parts and Kits

Carvin offered guitar kits as early as the 1960’s. Carvin continued to manufacture their own pickups.

'54 Carvin #3664 -
2 - 12" speakers 25 watt
The Carvin company began building guitar amplifiers as early as the 1950’s. The appearance of their early amplifiers were similar to Fender or Gibson amplifiers. The amplifiers were every bit as good as comparable Fender amplifiers, but were sold direct to the public at half the price as Fender amps.

1957 Model #3-SGB

Carvin’s sales were always direct to the public. This was a niche that other manufactures never pursued, but it was the key to Carvin's success. Their only stores were their own retail outlets, that were not opened until 1991. These three locations were in Southern California, and include their Escondido factory.

1956 Catalog cover

Their early catalogs were crudely done as mimeographed flyers, with descriptions of the guitars and amps. They had black and white photographs of the products.

1976 Carvin Catalog

By 1976 Carvin began offering color catalogs.

1976 Carvin CM96 guitar

This same year, Carvin guitars came with all the bells and whistles, that included pickup phasing switches, coil tap, and stereo controls. Bodies were made in the USA, the necks were made in Germany by Hòfner.

Kiesel Guitars
In 2015, Carvin split into two divisions. Their new guitars were re-branded under the brand name Kiesel. Audio equipment remained under the name Carvin Audio.

1979 Carvin Audio and Amplifiers
As best as I can tell, Carvin began offering first class audio mixing consoles, and power amplifiers in 1979. Their equipment was of professional quality. Initial offerings were from 4 channels to 16 channels with 8 outputs. Carvin also manufactured stage monitors, and professional speaker systems.

Recently they added digital mixing boards, microphones, wireless systems, in-ear monitors, and power conditioners.

Carvin Endorsements

Carvin guitar amplifiers were legendary. Steve Vai was an endorser. The late Alan Holdsworth played his Carvin signature model.

Carvin Vintage Series 16/5 watt amp

Carvin Vintage series tube guitar amplifiers were comparable to better known brands, at a much lower price.

Carvin BX 1600 bass amp

Carvin bass amplifiers, sold as the BX series and as well as their cabinets were great values. These were rated from 250 watts to 2000 watts RMS.

Carvin Audio

Unfortunately Carvin equipment will no longer be available. The website is offering remaining stock, but most stock has already been sold.

2017 Kiesel FG1
Kiesel still offers gorgeous guitars and basses, as well as guitar and bass pickups, bodies, kits, necks, and parts.

Carvin guitars and amplifiers have always been under the radar when compared to Fender, Gibson, and Vox.

Those who own Carvin products swear by them.

Click on the links below the pictures for sources. Click on the links in the text for further information.
©UniqueGuitar Publications

Categories: General Interest

Nirvana for Ukulele

Guitar Lifestyle - Fri, 10/20/2017 - 07:00

By: Russ

Aloha! I’m going to continue my 90’s-themed, ukulele-twisted nostalgia with what is arguably THE 90s band. The ultimate 90s band. The band that encapsulated a scene, burned down what was before, and set a decade into motion.

Of course, I’m talking about Nirvana.

Nirvana hit with such force and speed that it was a shock to almost every adult. The Christmas of 1991 saw a ton of copies of Nevermind fly off the shelves (probably with Christmas money from relatives), but Michael Jackson’s Dangerous was still #1. Until the week of January 11th, when kids returned their gifted copies of Dangerous and bought Nevermind with the refunds, moving Nervmind from #6 to #1 beating Dangerous on the charts.

Just think about that for a second. Nirvana moved from #6 to #1 based on word of mouth and refunds of probably the most popular artist to date. If that doesn’t say the kids are into your music, nothing ever will.

But that basically sums up Nirvana’s whole lifespan. They presented a sound and image that was so popular that it dismantled what was there prior. Nirvana has solos, but not lame-o Poison solos. And they didn’t have weak power ballads like… well, Poison did that too. Poison just kind of sucks and seems to be a pretty easy punching bag right now.

Nirvana seemed to be the band that had no interest in fame even if they did want to be rock stars and everyone bought in. The raw sound, the catchy hooks, the great writing, and the rebellious image of normality when bands like Guns ‘N Roses and Twisted Sister were making spectacles of themselves presented us with something new.

An alternative.

They seemed not only like the genuine article, but like a band of everybodies. Their image was the same as most of the people at the time and their songs weren’t known for being insanely difficult. It moved the focus from virtuosity to being genuine and we can all be genuine.

In the end, it was too much to bear for singer Kurt Cobain, but he left behind an amazing legacy that still sounds fresh today.

And you can play 20 of them on the ukulele with this book from Hal Leonard!

Personally, I was suspect when I first saw the book as Nirvana is usually associated (at least to me) with loud electric guitars, but the more I thought about the songs themselves, the more convinced I became that the different tone of the ukulele combined with the stripped-down nature of strumming and singing the songs to yourself with no accompaniment might turn them into something other than what they were before.

Kind of like their unplugged album.

The book presents 20 solid songs in musical notation with chord boxes and the ultimate goal of getting your strumming along. And, while the songs aren’t overly difficult, some of them have a good amount of chords and fast changes, so it should make for a fun challenge for some players.

Or you could always play them slower for a moodier feel. There’s really no WRONG way to play Nirvana.

And it’s because of this that I recommend this book for anyone interested in playing alternative on the ukulele. 90’s alternative hits often came in two varieties: original and unplugged and the unplugged version was almost always better, but if you wanted to rock out, the original was the way to go. Similarly, you can stretch, slow down, speed up, and warp these songs and usually have good outcomes because they’re just good songs and you can do that. They aren’t the kind of songs where if you pull a thread it all comes apart. The songs are solid and complex, not so much in the chord shapes, but in the different vibes you can present just by playing it slower and alone.

Think “Hurt” by Johnny Cash compared to the original Nine Inch Nails. (And I know that was from 2002, but it still works to convey what I’m talking about)

But if you’re not interested in creating a moody environment playing these songs slower and alone (or even at speed and alone), you can always play them at speed with your friends and sing along because that was an important part of 90s alternative, too. For all the angst and difficult issues being worked out from abortion, suicide, and general injustice, it was also about finding peace and being happy.

So I say get this book, grab your uke, and see what you can do with these songs!

Until next time!


Categories: General Interest

Podcast Episode 2: St Vincent, Richie Kotzen, Dan Auerbach, Walter Trout

I Heart Guitar - Wed, 10/18/2017 - 17:03

Yup, you read that right: Episode 2 of the I Heart Guitar Podcast is out now and the guests are St. Vincent, Richie Kotzen, Dan Auerbach of The Black Keys, and blues legend Walter Trout.

You can listen here on iTunes or on the podcatcher of your choice (and if you can’t find it on whatever you’re using, email me at and I’ll get it added for you). Don’t forget to leave a review! 

There’s also a Patreon page where you can show me some love and get access to an exclusive subscriber-only podcast feed. The first subscriber-only bonus just went out on Monday: a live track from my performance at the Melbourne Guitar Show in 2015. Subscribers will get all sorts of stuff: gear demos, extended interviews, live call-in shows, previews of the album I’m releasing in early 2018 and more (while also helping to pay for things like hosting fees, podcasting gear, food for my sausagedog, etc). 

The post Podcast Episode 2: St Vincent, Richie Kotzen, Dan Auerbach, Walter Trout appeared first on I Heart Guitar.

Categories: General Interest

Oceans Ate Alaska – “Covert” Guitar Playthrough Premiere

Ernie Ball Music Man - Mon, 10/16/2017 - 10:01

Ernie Ball is proud to premiere a guitar play-through video from progressive metal quintet Oceans Ate Alaska.

Hailing from Birmingham, UK, James Kennedy and Adam Zytkiewicz came armed with their Music Man JP15 and JP16 model guitars to rip through their song “Covert” off their latest album, Hikari.

Watch as James and Adam take turns blending layers of their signature rhythmic dissonant runs with melodic leads, displaying both beautiful and heavy hitting themes.

Check out the play-through video for “Covert” below:

Oceans Ate Alaska’s album Hikari is out now via Fearless Records and you can get yours here.
You can also catch the guys and their guitars on tour starting November 1st. Grab tickets and other concert packages here.

Guitars & Strings:

James Kennedy and Adam Zytkiewicz play the Music Man John Petrucci guitar models, JP15 in Sahara Burst Quilt Top finish and a JP16 in Black Lava finish. They also play custom 12-68 and 13-72 gauge single string sets which you can find on our website via the Electric Single Strings page.

Guitar Arpeggios For Beginners

Jazz Guitar Online - Mon, 10/16/2017 - 05:42

The Easy Guide to Jazz Guitar Arpeggios


In this lesson you’ll learn how to play guitar arpeggios, how to use arpeggios to improvise over chord changes and jazz standards, as well as the music theory involved. Just like scales, arpeggios are an essential building block of the jazz player’s vocabulary and give your solos that instant “jazzy” flavor (if done right). That’s why understanding, practicing and mastering arpeggios is a necessity for all jazz guitarists.


What Are Guitar Arpeggios and How Do They Work?

Here is the definition of the word arpeggio:

An arpeggio is a broken chord, where the notes of the chord are played in succession instead of simultaneously.

Arpeggios are used in all genres of music, such as jazz, blues, rock, metal, classical music, pop, etc. In jazz (and metal) arpeggios are used differently compared to other genres of music.

In pop music for example, an arpeggio on guitar is usually used for accompaniment. Instead of playing or strumming the notes of a chord simultaneously, the individual notes of the chord are played in succession by applying a finger picking pattern, usually on acoustic guitar.

Here’s an example of how an Am arpeggio can be used in pop music. The base of this arpeggio is a basic Am chord shape and the notes of the chord are not muted after they are played, but ring together.


Am arpeggio


In jazz (and blues, metal, etc), arpeggios are used for soloing instead of accompaniment. In contrast to arpeggios used in other genres of music, the notes of a jazz guitar arpeggio are usually played with a plectrum (unless you play fingerstyle) and muted after they are played, so they don’t ring together. Another contrast is that these arpeggios are not based on a chord shape.

Here’s an example of how an Am arpeggio would be played in jazz:


Am7 arpeggio


In this tutorial we will be focusing on the jazz-type of arpeggios.

What Are Arpeggios Used For?

Why learn guitar and practice guitar arpeggios? Because arpeggios are a great tool to improvise over chord progressions and jazz standards:

  • Playing arpeggios in your guitar solo will outline the harmony of the tune (contrary to scales). This gives your improvisation a sense of direction, making it more interesting to listen to.
  • Arpeggios make it easier to improvise a nice voice leading, making your solos more melodic.
  • You can use arpeggios to add color and complexity to your solos by using substitutions.

How To Start Using Arpeggios

Now, which arpeggios should you learn?

Every jazz guitarists needs to know how to play the arpeggios of all chord types in all positions of the guitar neck.

This may not seem a simple task, but with a good practice routine, you will be able to play all arpeggios without thinking in a relative short period of time.

So, before learning how to use arpeggios in guitar solos, let’s get started by learning the basic positions.

Basic Arpeggio Shapes: Minor, Dominant and Major

We’re going to learn the basic arpeggio shapes (aka grips) by looking at the most common chord progression in jazz, the 2 5 1 (II V I).

In this example we’ll be working with a 2 5 1 progression in the key of G major:

Am7 D7 Gmaj7 %
ii V I


To play over this kind of chord progression, you need 3 types of arpeggios: minor, dominant and major.


The Minor Arpeggio

Here are the arpeggio notes of the Am7 chord:

Am7 Arpeggio A C E G
1 b3 5 b7


And here is the guitar arpeggio shape for the Am7 chord:

Guitar root note red dots represent the root or 1 of the guitar chord.

Guitar noteblack dots represent the other chord notes. The letters are the note names.


Minor arpeggio diagram


Here is the same arpeggio in relation to its scale (A Dorian) and chord (Am7):

 Am7 arpeggio vs A Dorian scale                                       Am7 arpeggio vs Am7 chord

Am7 arpeggio, scale and chord


Am7 Arpeggio Exercise #1: practice the A minor arpeggio as notated on the tabs below (until it flows naturally):

Listen & Play:

Minor arpeggio tabs


Am7 Arpeggio Exercise #2: you can also practice by playing the chord before the arpeggio, a good exercise for your ears.

Listen & Play:

Minor arpeggio tab


Arpeggio Patterns

Here are 2 arpeggio patterns that are a little more technically advanced, practicing these is optional, but a good exercise to get the arpeggio shapes under your fingers. I’ve written out these patterns for Am7 only, but you can use the same pattern on all arpeggios, including the dominant and major arpeggios that follow.


Am7 Arpeggio Pattern #1: This first pattern plays the arpeggio in 5th and 4th intervals, achieved by skipping notes:

Listen & Play:

Arpeggio pattern 1


Am7 Arpeggio Pattern #2: this pattern divides the arpeggio in groups of 3 notes:

Listen & Play:

Arpeggio pattern 2




The Dominant Arpeggio

We go on to the notes and formula of the D7 chord:

D7 Arpeggio D F# A C
1 3 5 b7


Dominant guitar arpeggio diagram


Here is the same arpeggio in relation to its scale (D Mixolydian) and chord (D7):

 D7 arpeggio vs D Mixolydian scale                                    D7 arpeggio vs D7 chord

D7 arpeggio, chord and scale


D7 Arpeggio Exercise #1: Get this dominant arpeggio in your fingers by practicing like you did for the Am7 chord:

Listen & Play:

Dominant arpeggio tabs


D7 Arpeggio Exercise #2: Similar to the minor arpeggio examples, you can also play the chord before the arpeggio:

Listen & Play:

Dominant arpeggio tab


The Major Arpeggio

And then we arrive at the last chord of the chord progression, the Gmaj7 chord:

Gmaj7 Arpeggio G B D F#
1 3 5 7


Major arpeggio diagram


Here is the same arpeggio in relation to its scale (G Major aka G Ionian Scale) and chord (Gmaj7):

Gmaj7 arpeggio vs G major scale                                       Gmaj7 arpeggio vs Gmaj7 chord

Gmaj7 arpeggio, chord and scale


Gmaj7 Arpeggio Exercise #1: Practice this major arpeggio the way we did for the minor and dominant arpeggio:

Listen & Play:

Major arpeggio tabs


Gmaj7 Arpeggio Exercise #2: And with the Gmaj7 chord in front of the arpeggio:

Listen & Play:


Movable Shapes

One thing you need to know: all arpeggio shapes are movable. If you know the arpeggio for Am7 you can use that same ‘shape’ to find the arpeggios for other minor chords.

For example: let’s say you want to find the arpeggio for Gm7. All we have to do is slide the Am7 arpeggio shape 2 frets down. Instead of starting on the 5th fret (in case of Am7), we start on the 3rd fret for Gm7. You move the root of the arpeggio and play the shape from there, like this:


Movable arpeggio shapes


Combining The 3 Basic Arpeggio Shapes

We know the basic positions for the arpeggios, now we’re going to combine them so the arpeggios follow the 251 chord progression.


Exercise #1 – Ascending
The first thing we’ll practice is playing the arpeggios ascending, starting from the root. This exercise is not very musical and you will never use them like this for improvisation, but it’s a necessary step in learning how to play arpeggios.

Listen & Play:

ii V I arpeggios ascending


Exercise #2 – Descending
Next, we’ll play the arpeggios descending:

Listen & Play:

ii V I Arpeggios descending


Exercise #3 – Alternating
The next step is alternating the arpeggios. We do this by playing the first arpeggio (Am7) for 1 bar and then switch to the nearest note of the second arpeggio (D7) in the second bar. The same happens when we switch to the third arpeggio (Gmaj7).

Listen & Play:

ii V I guitar arpeggio example


Exercise #4 – Alternating Variation

Let’s have a look at another alternating example, starting from a different location of the guitar neck. Instead of starting the Am7 arpeggio on the low E-string, we will start it on the high E-string:

Listen & Play:

ii V I arpeggio example


When you’ve got these basic arpeggio shapes under your fingers, the following (important) step is to start improvising using these shapes. Practicing arpeggios starting from the root in streams of 1/8 notes is an important step in the learning process, but not very musical. Once you got this step under your fingers, it’s important to get creative so you don’t end up sounding like a robot on stage…

Arpeggios can be started on any note and played in any order. You can mix notes, skip notes and use any rhythm you can think of. Be creative!


Arpeggio Lick #1
Here’s a more musical example, using the same arpeggio shapes over the same 251 chord progression, but with a variety in rhythm and note order:

Listen & Play:

ii V I arpeggio combination tabs


Now start to improvise yourself, using only the basic shapes you learned so far. Use the backing track to make sure you make the arpeggio change at the right time.

Arpeggio Charts

So far in this tutorial we worked with arpeggio shapes that have their root on the E-string (Am7 and Gmaj7) or on the A-string (D7). There are of course a lot of other positions these arpeggios can be played.

The following charts in the list below are an overview of arpeggio positions for the most common chord types. The big diagram shows all the notes of the arpeggio over the entire neck, the smaller diagrams beneath it show the individual arpeggio grips.

All 22 grips below need to be memorized and practiced so you can play them fluently and without hesitation…


Major Arpeggios (Gmaj7)


Major guitar arpeggio chart



Those of you familiar with the CAGED system, will recognize that the 5 Gmaj7 arpeggio shapes above correspond with the 5 basic chord shapes (C A G E D):

Guitar arpeggios caged system



Minor Arpeggios (Am7)


Minor guitar arpeggio chart


Dominant Arpeggios (D7)


Dominant guitar arpeggio chart


Half-Diminished Arpeggios (Bm7b5)


Half diminished guitar arpeggio chart


Diminished Arpeggios (B°7 = D°7 = F°7 = Ab°7)

Only 2 grips for diminished chords because diminished chords are symmetrical (learn more about diminished chords here).


Diminished guitar arpeggio chart

Arpeggios of the C Major Scale

A good exercise to practice the arpeggio shapes above is to play the arpeggios of the chords of the C major scale in 1 position.

Here are the diatonic chords in the key of C (if you’re not sure where these chords come from, have a look at our Chord Tutorial):

Cmaj7 Dm7 Em7 Fmaj7 G7 Am7 Bm7b5


C Major Scale Arpeggios Exercise #1
In this exercise we play every chord arpeggio for the length of 1 bar, while staying in the 7th position (more about guitar positions).

Listen & Play:

C major scale arpeggios exercise


C Major Scale Arpeggios Exercise #2
This is the same exercise as above, but this time starting in 2nd position:

Listen & Play:

C major scale arpeggios exercise


Practice this exercise in all positions of the guitar neck.

Spicing It Up – Approach Notes

Arpeggios relate directly to the chord you’re soloing over, but they can sound a bit plain, as they offer nothing new to that chord. To help you avoid this in your solos, you’ll have a look at some common chromatic techniques over arpeggios.

The first arpeggio concept is called approach notes, where you approach any note in an arpeggio by one fret below. When doing so, you create a tension and release sound in your lines.

The only rule is that you can’t resolve to the chromatic notes. So, if you play an approach note, you then have to play a chord tone afterwards.


Here’s an example of this technique in action, as you approach each note in an Am7 arpeggio from a fret below. The approach notes are in blue so you can easily see them on the fretboard. After you’ve worked this exercise over Am7, take it to other keys and arpeggio types in your solos:

Listen & Play:

Arpeggio approach notes 1


Here’s the reverse of the previous exercise as you now descend an Am7 arpeggio with approach notes.

Listen & Play:

Arpeggio approach notes 2


Here’s a lick that uses arpeggios and approach notes as you bring this concept to a musical situation. Learn this lick in the given key, then take it to other keys if you can. From there, write out a few licks of your own over this progression.

Listen & Play:

Arpeggio approach notes 3

Spicing It Up: Enclosures

The next bebop technique uses two chromatic notes for each arpeggio note, as you encircle chord tones in your lines.

When playing enclosures, you play one fret above, then one fret below, then the chord tone.

There are a number of enclosures that you can use in your solos, but this is the best one to start with as it’s the most commonly used.


Here’s an example of an enclosure as applied at an Am7 arpeggio, ascending a two-octave version of that arpeggio. Work this exercise with a metronome in as many keys as you can, and then take it to other arpeggio shapes.

Listen & Play:

Arpeggio enclosures 1


The next exercise reverses the previous one, as you now descend an Am7 arpeggio with enclosures.

Listen & Play:

Arpeggio enclosures 2


Here’s a lick that uses arpeggio enclosures over a ii V I vi progression in G major. After you learn this lick, write out 2-3 of your own that use arpeggios and enclosures in its construction.

Listen & Play:

Arpeggio enclosures 3

Autumn Leaves Arpeggio Study

To complete our arpeggio tutorial, we will learn how to use arpeggios in a song. To get you started applying arpeggios over chord changes, here is a solo over Autumn Leaves that uses arpeggios and concepts from this section.

Work the solo one phrase at a time until you can put everything together to form the solo as a whole. From there, you can play it along with the audio example, as well as solo over the backing track as you create your own arpeggio solos over this tune.


Listen & Play:

Autumn Leaves arpeggio study page 1


Autumn Leaves arpeggio study page 2


This lesson is available as a printable PDF (a part of our Beginner’s Guide to Jazz Guitar) for our newsletter subscribers. If you are not subscribed to our free newsletter, fill out the form below and download your PDF:

PDF download


Now you have learned the basics of arpeggios. If you want to progress and learn more about how to use arpeggios in your soloing, check out our step-by-step eBook, The Easy Guide to Jazz Guitar Arpeggios


The Easy Guide to Jazz Guitar Arpeggios

The post Guitar Arpeggios For Beginners appeared first on Jazz Guitar Online | Free Jazz Guitar Lessons, Licks, Tips & Tricks..

Doll Skin Premiere New Music Video for “Daughter”

Ernie Ball Music Man - Fri, 10/13/2017 - 16:09

Today our friends at Alternative Press premiered “Daughter”, the latest music video from Doll Skin. The main character in Doll Skin’s new video could be any of us: She rocks out a Slayer T-shirt and carries Green Day and My Chemical Romance CDs around in her backpack. “Daughter” is the second single from the band’s sophomore full-length album released in June. They had previously released a music video for “Puncha Nazi” that featured live shots of the band. Watch the music video for “Daughter” below:

The track, off the band’s latest album Manic Pixie Dream Girl, features Ernie Ball Music Man bassist Nicole Rich rocking on her custom pink Caprice passive bass.The Caprice, another welcome newcomer to the Modern Classic family of instruments is a bold new statement in passive design. A workhorse bass that is capable of blending two distinct pickup voicings offering a variety of tones suitable for any musical environment. This compact offset design provides a body shape that is comfortable and balanced along with a slim neck profile that makes this bass a pleasure to play. The top-loading bridge is made from hardened steel and complemented by a newly designed oversized headstock with the familiar 3+1 tuner arrangement. As with the Cutlass, the Caprice is a sleek modern bass with vintage features that stays true to its Music Man heritage.

Doll Skin is on tour with One-Eyed Doll this fall; catch all the dates below.

10/13 – Pittsburgh, PA @ The Funhouse at Mr. Smalls
10/14 – Baltimore, MD @ Fish Head Cantina
10/15 – Clifton, NJ @ Dingbatz
10/18 – Richmond, VA @ Canal Club
10/19 – Spartanburg, SC @ Ground Zero
10/20 – Jacksonville, FL @ Jackrabbits Live
10/21 – Tampa, FL @ Brass Mug
10/22 – Tallahassee, FL @ The Warrior *
10/24 – Mobile, AL @ Alchemy Tavern *
10/25 – Lafayette, LA @ The District
10/26 – San Antonio, TX @ The Rock Box ^
10/27 – Austin, TX @ Dirty Dog Bar ^
10/28 – Houston, TX @ BFE Rock Club ^
10/29 – Dallas, TX @ Trees ^
10/31 – Phoenix, AZ @ Club Red ^
11/01 – Hollywood, CA @ Whisky A Go Go ^
12/02 – Los Angeles, CA @ Emo Nite
12/04 – Flagstaff, AZ @ Flagstaff’s Green Room

* Doll Skin headline
^ with Co-Op

Green Day Ukulele Play-Along Volume 25

Guitar Lifestyle - Fri, 10/13/2017 - 07:49

By: Russ

Aloha! Let’s talk briefly about the human brain: It has a marvelous flexibility and one of the coolest things that it does all on its own is, over time, it diminishes not only the painful, but the mundane as well and at the same time embellishes what you think is great. This is what makes people think the past (pick whatever period you want) was some sort of golden era unlike today. But thirty years from now, we’ll probably look back and say it actually wasn’t all that bad.


Anyway, this is where nostalgia comes from. The food that wasn’t anything special – just food you ate as a kid – became comfort food as an adult, the TV shows that had all sorts of flaws became genius, and the music was the best ever offered.

Personally, I’m a sucker for nostalgia. Regardless of the psychology behind it, it brings a pleasant, warm feeling with it. A familiar feeling where you’re comfortable with whatever you’re thinking of.

This is especially true with music – just ask people what the greatest decade was for music and it’ll probably line up with when they were young.

Even though the only correct answer is the 1990s.

The 1990s was the BEST decade for music because no decade featured so much music from different genres getting so much attention from different audiences. There were still songwriters playing their own material in the pop world, metal went through changes from hair to heavy to nu, punk became accepted by the masses, hip hop went from crying for social justice to bragging about personal wealth (and even included its own small civil rights movement), and we even had a popular shock artist in the middle of it to freak out the parents.

And when my daughter was just a baby, I would play her songs from the 90s when she was crawling around on the floor, or to try to calm her down in the evenings. Today, even though she has her own music, she still knows the words to some of the songs and loves to sing along with them. And since she’s learning the ukulele, she wanted to play the songs I used to play on guitar on her own ukulele.

I decided that this can’t possibly be an isolated incident and would make a fun writing topic anyway, so I decided to get some books from Hal Leonard and indulge her (and my own) nostalgia.

So let’s start with what might be my favorite band of the 1990s: Green Day

Green Day is one of a handful of bands/groups/artists that not only have hits that span decades, but have hooked in fans from different generations. My kids would love to see a Green Day show, but so would I because I remember seeing them when I was fourteen and loving every minute of it.

They were pop punk before pop punk was a thing, and they were never scared to experiment with their music or sound and they’ve used this to grab different people for different reasons, but all finding something in the music be it fun, energy, stories, or something more personal.

And Green Day translates well to ukulele! The book I received is from Hal Leonard’s “Play-Along” series which aims to have you playing the songs quickly and easily. They aren’t making the songs any more intricate or difficult than they need to be in the transcriptions (music notation with chord boxes and TAB for solos), and they also include a CD to hear how the songs should sound (complete with a backing band), and then you can play with different tracks sans ukulele so you’re the star (and so you can get the timing down). You can use the CD in any CD player, but if you use it in your PC or Mac, you can also slow it down without changing pitch so you can work your way through any parts you may be having trouble with. That’s a pretty handy tool to have at your disposal.

The songs are easy to learn and fun to play. Most punk is. But unlike a lot of punk, Green Day’s songs always seemed to be filled with more hooks and melodies than a lot of either the screaming punk popular in the 80s or repetitive pop punk of the late 90s. They’ve always been a great compromise between punk rock tone and energy and pop melodies and this means the songs are fun to play, fun to sing along with, and fun to learn. People are quick to sing along with Green Day when you start playing.

The book features 12 songs that span just about their whole career from Dookie to 21st Century Breakdown. Personally, I’d love to see a more fleshed-out Green Day offering more songs, but these 12 will certainly get your foot in the door for the style of this fun band to play along with for $14.99!

Until next time!


Categories: General Interest

Tom Petty - His Life and Guitars

The Unique Guitar Blog - Thu, 10/12/2017 - 03:28
Tom Petty

Charlie T. Wilbury Jr has died, and so has Tom Petty. When I think of Tom Petty, I think of one of the last real rock players. There are some others still with us; Petty was one of the best.

Tom Petty in later years
Tom Petty was a like chameleon. Sometimes his voice sounded like Bob Dylan; Sometimes he sounded like Roger McQuinn, on his song Room at the Top, he tried to sound like Carl Wilson, but most of the time Petty was at his best with his own distinct voice.

Young Tom Petty

Petty had a rough childhood with an abusive father.  By age 11, he knew what he wanted to do with his life, when he had a chance meeting with Elvis Presley.  In 1961, Tom's uncle owned a film developing company in Ocala Florida, the same town where Elvis was shooting the movie, Follow That Dream. Young Petty was asked by his aunt and cousins if he would like to go watch the action.

At age 11 Petty met Elvis

Petty was dumbfound when the King climbed out of a white Cadillac and walked over past the crowd to speak with his aunt, cousins, and him. While his family recalls that moment as a special event, for Tom Petty this was life changing. After that he quit going outside, content to stay inside and listen to music all day. He even collected Elvis 45 rpm records.

The Beatles on The Ed Sullivan Show
In 1964, when The Beatles were on the Ed Sullivan Show, Petty knew that he wanted to be in a band. Eventually he learned to play guitar. And of course, if you played guitar, you needed to sing. His first guitar teacher was Don Felder, who went on to become one of the founding member of The Eagles.

Petty's First Band
He formed a band called The Epic, which later named themselves Mudcrutch. By 1976, the band had gone their separate ways after a recording they made called Depot Street failed to chart. Mike Campbell, Benmont Trench, decided to stick with Petty, who had decided on a solo career.

They were later joined by Ron Blair, and Stan Lynch and became the first incarnation of The Heartbreakers.

Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers

The band’s first album enjoyed more success in the UK than in the United States.

Damn The Torpedoes

But their second album, Damn The Torpedoes, sold over two million copies and had hit songs on it like, Don’t Do Me Like That, Here Comes My Girl, and Refugee.

Stevie Nicks with Petty
Subsequent albums were also hits, and lead to Petty recording with Stevie Nicks, and being asked by Bob Dylan to join him on tour. The Heartbreakers even played some dates with The Grateful Dead.  The groups 1985 album was produced by Dave Stewart of the Eurythmics.

The Travelin' Wilbury's
with their Gretsch guitars
In 1988 Petty was asked by George Harrison to join his group, The Traveling Wilburys. Along with Petty, and Harrison were Roy Orbison, and Jeff Lynne. This lead to several albums. Petty incorporated The Wilburys’ songs into his live shows.

Jeff Lynne and Tom Petty

Petty collaborated with Jeff Lynne on one of his best songs; I Won't Back Down.

Petty and the Heartbreakers had initially inked a deal with Shelter Records at the start of their career. Shelter Records was later sold to MCA, which upset Petty. He felt that he and his band were being treated like a commodity.

To thumb his nose at MCA, he financed next record and ran up a bill in a recording studio costs of over $500,000, then he refused to release the album. In a legal move, he declared bankruptcy to force MCA to void his contract. He then resigned with MCA on more favorable terms.

Tom Petty Hard Promises
His album, Hard Promises was to be sold at $9.98. Petty once again argued with executives at the company that the price was too high and he refused to allow the album to go forward. The record company relented and dropped the price a full dollar. Petty’s legal maneuvering led the way for other artists to take back their music and receive respect from the record companies.

The Traveling Wilburys were signed to Warner Brothers Records. Petty later signed a contract with this company under a better arrangement then he had with MCA.

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers - last concert September 25, 2017
Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers continued to tour and played his last concert at the Hollywood Bowl just a week before his untimely death on October 2nd.

The guitars that Petty used are too numerous to mention them all. He was a collector and owned some exquisite instruments.

Petty - 1964 Stratocaster

One of his favourite guitasr was a sunburst 1964 Fender Stratocaster.

Petty with vintage

He played quite a few Rickenbacker instruments, including a 1965 Rose Morris, and a 1987, and 1993 reissue of the Rose Morris. For those that do not know, in 1965 Rose-Morris Music was chosen to be the official distributor of Rickenbacker guitars.

Petty with Rickenbacker 330/12

Petty also owns a  1967 Rickenbacker 360/12.

Tom Petty Rickenbacker 660/12

He plays a 1989 Rickenbacker 660/12TP, that was designed by the company as an artist model for him. Petty had input in the design of this guitar's neck. He had them build the neck so it was slightly wider than other Rickenbacker 12 string guitars.

Petty - Epiphone Casino

In an interview he stated that one of his favorite guitars for recording is an Epiphone Casino. Since feedback was a problem with hollow body guitars, he did not take this one on the road.

Petty '63 Telecaster reissue

On the road he played a white ‘62 Fender Custom Shop Stratocaster, as well as a sonic blue ‘63 Fender Telecaster.

Petty with a 1967 Fender Esquire

Petty also owned a blonde ‘67 Fender Esquire, and his sunburst ‘64 Fender Stratocaster.

Petty with '76 Firebird

Tom also owned a white ‘63 Fender Stratocaster, a 1960 blonde Telecaster, and a 1976 Gibson Firebird V.

Petty with his Fender XII

One other Fender guitar he owned a white late 1960's Fender XII

Petty with Gretsch Country Gentleman

Petty owned and played a couple of vintage Gretsch guitars; a 1963 Gretsch Country Gentleman, model 6122, and a 1967 Gretsch Tennessean, model 6119.

Petty with Gretsch Billy-Bo

He also owned a Gretsch G61999 Billy-Bo Jupiter.

With signature model
Rickenbacker 660/12TP

We've already alluded to his Rickenbacker collection, which included His 1964 Rose Morris 12 string with a Fireglo finish. A Rickebacker 320, a 1967 Rickenbacker 360/12, a mid 1980’s Rickenbacker 620/12 with a fireglo finish, his signature 660/12TP, also done in fireglo.

Petty with his '64 Electro

He also owned a 1964 Rickenbacker Electro ES-17, in fireglo.  (There were only two models of the Electro brand was made in the USA by Rickenbacker; The ES-16, and the ES-17. In their day, these were budget guitars, but were fine instruments.)

Petty with 1966 Vox Mark VI

Petty also played a white 1966 Vox Mark VI teardrop guitar. Petty sometimes played bass guitar in the Heartbreakers.

Petty with Hòfner Club bass

His bass collection included a 1960's model Höfner Club Bass, and a 1960's model Höfner Violin bass.

'60's Danelectro Longhorn bass

He also owned and played an ES-335 Gibson bass, and a 1960's Danelectro Longhorn bass. Both were used in The Travelin' Wilburys.

Martin "Tom Petty" HD-40
six and twelve string models

His favorite acoustic guitars included a C.F. Martin HD-40 Tom Petty signature model, and a 12 version of this same instrument.

Tom Petty's Gibson Dove

Petty owned a Gibson Dove, that he used as his primary guitar to write songs. He saved this guitar from a fire that destroyed his home in 1987.

Petty's '69 Gibson Everly Brothers J-180

Other acoustic guitars included a 1987 Gibson Everly Brothers acoustic.

Petty with Gibson J-200

A Gibson Tom Petty signature J-200 Wlldflower acoustic, and a Gibson Pete Townsend J-200 acoustic-electric model that had a natural finish.

Guild D-25-12

He frequently played 1970’s Guild D25-12 string acoustic in concert.

Tom Petty Fender Acoustic-electric

Fender had designed a Tom Petty model acoustic guitar.

Petty's FenderVibro King amplifiers

His amplifier set up included two 60 watt Fender Vibro-King combos.

Petty's Amplifiers
He also toured with a 1969 Marshall JMP Plexi head, and a 1987 Marshall Vintage Series 50 watt tube head.

Petty preferred Vox speaker cabinets. He owned a mid 1960's model Vox 120 Super Beatle head.

Petty took a couple of Hi-Watt amps on the road, including a 2007 Custom 50 watt head, and a recent model DR-504 Custom 50 watt head.

'59 Bassman Reissue

In addition to the Fender Vibro-King amplifiers, Petty also used a reissue '59 Bassman. In a recent interview with Tom Wheeler, Petty states he purchased many of his guitars and amplifiers from Norm's Rare Guitars in Los Angeles.

Tom Petty 10/20/1950 - 10/02/2017

I will conclude this remembrance with some lyrics from Jimmy Webb’s song called, "All I know".

"When the singer's gone Let the song go on..."

Click on the links under the pictures for sources. Click on the links in the text for further information.
©UniqueGuitar Publications

Categories: General Interest

Brian Fallon’s Painkillers

Guitar Lifestyle - Wed, 10/11/2017 - 09:12


By: Russ


Let’s talk about Bruce Springsteen. I’m not a huge fan, myself, but I always find Springsteen fans to be an interesting bunch. Have you ever noticed how they usually say the same things? They talk about how Springsteen is a voice of the people – that he sings their songs, not necessarily his own. Isn’t that interesting? Instead of listening to his music and seeing a window into his soul, it’s like they’re using his music as a window into their OWN souls.

I tell you, it’s beyond interesting, this Myth of Bruce. And, because of it, I have tried repeatedly to get into his music but most of it just doesn’t do anything for me. He may sing the songs of millions of souls, but mine is left out and there is just way too much saxophone.

Recently, though, I began to wonder if I’ve EVER felt that sort of connection and I came to the conclusion that I have not. I have listened to music that I found poetic and appropriate for the subject. I could follow and grasp the social unrest of punk rock, the anger of metal, the avant-garde nature of experimental jazz, and love it all, but through every bit of it I failed to see myself through the music. It’s always been looking at the artist and not using the artist as a mirror to myself.

I don’t think this makes me lacking in some serious manner – I can still appreciate music – but I just haven’t gone to that other level.

Or, I should say, I hadn’t because recently I have in a big way.

I have a playlist on my phone filled with music I don’t have any experience with. I’ll see someone on a late night show or get a recommendation from someone and download an album or two from Apple Music and give it a shot. The good stuff gets dumped into my catch-all “Awesome” playlist and everything else falls away.

On a long trip away from home, I decided to listen to something new and pulled up my experimental playlist and listened to Brian Fallon’s Painkillers, and that was it. I instantly fell in love with it on that new level. The folksy rock sound that flows throughout the album gives it a raw feel even though there are layers of instruments and back-up vocals and the prevalence of acoustic guitars gives the whole thing an intimate vibe. It isn’t a folk album by any means, but it has that folk feel where people are usually more honest with themselves and the audience about what they’re feeling – where there’s less pretense and showmanship to convey an image rather than the real person. There’s more dimension to the songs and Fallon moves around from bouncier offerings to heartbreaking songs with ease and he’s definitely bringing you along for the ride.

I listened to it all and felt like he was singing my songs or my soul. There was just a feeling to it that is tough to describe. The weirdest part is that I couldn’t point to any one area of my life that was a good example of whatever song and draw a connecting line like “this song reminds me of when I…” No, the situations were all alien to me, but through Fallon’s writing and playing they all felt like I had lived them at some point and had come away wiser if a bit more jaded.

And what a testament to his writing and performing when he moves beyond getting your feet to tap – beyond even painting a picture for you to admire from afar and say “I understand,” – and move with ease from the first song to the last bringing you on a trip and you feeling like you had done these things, lived these lives, and learned these lessons. The stories don’t show the song’s subjects as a heroes or villains, but rather just people and sometimes people do good things and bad things. It’s just part of being human and it’s nice to hear stories that back that up.

The playing is something to really sit down and listen to as well. Most of the songs feature a comfortable strum and familiar chords, but the accents that Fallon places on top of them with different licks, solos, and other instruments make everything feel like something you’ve never heard, but something that is still familiar. Like sitting in someone else’s comfortable chair. Yes, it’s not the same chair you’re used to, but it’s still comfortable and you can delight in the differences instead of them distracting you too badly.

I am NOT saying that Painkillers sounds like a Bruce Springsteen record, but the immediate attachment that it made me feel – that closeness that spread like wildfire inside me – is so similar to what I hear when Springsteen fans talk about the Boss that I get it now. I understand why his fans are so devoted. Springsteen, despite his success, still manages to convey a “one of us” vibe. He never comes across as above his fans, or more elite. He feels like a neighbor down the road – an old friend from school – and you want to support that. Brian Fallon does the same thing: Through his excellent songwriting and performing, Painkillers comes across as intimate and vulnerable, but still something you can shout along with in your car. His songs are anthems of the every-man and nowhere does he imply that he’s above you.

Painkillers is, without a doubt, my favorite album I’ve ever listened to and I had to come here and gush about it even though I focus on ukuleles and instruction materials. I feel like it’s my duty to proselytize and tell you about it because I haven’t seen enough press about it or t-shirts on the streets. I have no doubt that Fallon’s album would be appreciated by a ton of people if they gave it a shot so I implore you to check it out. The worst case is you feel like he doesn’t speak directly to you, but what if he could if you gave him the opportunity?

Categories: General Interest

I Heart Guitar Podcast Episode 1: Rich Ward, Tony MacAlpine & Tony Iommi

I Heart Guitar - Mon, 10/09/2017 - 22:46


Well, I’ve finally gone and done it: meet the I Heart Guitar Podcast! The first episode is online now and it features Rich Ward of Fozzy, Tony MacAlpine, and an interview from the archives with Black Sabbath legend Tony Iommi. I hope you enjoy it, and there’s a lot more where that came future will include guest co-hosts, gear reviews, blogpods from various events, and lots more. 

You can listen to it below, or at the following links:

Here’s where to listen:
I Heart Guitar Podcast on iTunes
I Heart Guitar Podcast on Stitcher
I Heart Guitar Podcast on BlogTalkRadio

The post I Heart Guitar Podcast Episode 1: Rich Ward, Tony MacAlpine & Tony Iommi appeared first on I Heart Guitar.

Categories: General Interest

Boss JB-2 Angry Driver

Guitar Lifestyle - Mon, 10/09/2017 - 13:58


Boss recently surprised the pedal industry by collaborating with JHS Pedals to create the JB-2 Angry Driver:

To celebrate the 40th anniversary of BOSS compact pedals, BOSS and JHS Pedals have come together in a historic creative collaboration between the two industry leaders. Housed in the classic BOSS compact design, the JB-2 Angry Driver pairs the tones of the iconic BOSS BD-2 Blues Driver with JHS Pedals’ popular Angry Charlie. Working closely together, the two pedal innovators have developed an all-new combined circuit with refined sound and performance perfectly tuned for dual-mode drive operation.

The JB-2 Angry Driver features three dual-concentric knobs that provide independent drive, tone, and level control for each overdrive type. Via a six-position mode selector, you can use each overdrive independently, or combine them together in series and parallel configurations. With the ability to blend the Blues Driver’s famously expressive low-to-mid gain tones with the Angry Charlie’s aggressive rock voice in any combination, the JB-2 Angry Driver delivers unmatched range and versatility from a single overdrive pedal.

This is quite an interesting pairing. Even though it’s fairly ubiquitous and has been for years, I have not played through a Blues Driver before, but I have played through the Angry Charlie and I really liked it. It’s a great Marshall sound.

I like the switching options that the JB-2 comes with. It’s interesting that you can run the two sides in so many different combinations, including running both in Parallel Mode. It’s clear Boss really thought through this pedal, and it looks like they’ve done a solid job.

Dan and Mick at That Pedal Show recently did a feature of this pedal where they detail a lot of the options. They also compared it to the pedals it’s based on as well as a Marshall Guv’nor pedal:

Categories: General Interest

How To Use A Guitar Capo…In 97 Seconds

The Guitar Journal - Fri, 10/06/2017 - 12:28

A guitar capo is essentially a clamp for the guitar neck, which depresses all (or some) of the strings at a given fret. The guitar capo is usually just called a “capo”, short for capo d’astro (Italian) – “the head of the fretboard”.

The main advantage of a capo is that it shortens the playable length of the guitar string, raising the “open” tuning of the guitar. The result is that the player can now use normal “open” chord shapes in a new key, yielding the big, beautiful, resonant sounding chords that we’re used to in standard open position.

Why Use a Capo?

Basically…because they make chords sound better. And they make life easier. Especially on acoustic guitars. And, truly, capos are used mostly on acoustic guitars. That’s for two reasons:

  1. Capos allow you to play open chords in different keys on the neck then normal. The sonic benefit of this – bigger sounding chords, ringing pedal tones, creative voicings, the overtones and resonance – is most beneficial on acoustic guitar.
  2. The ability to finger big open chord positions is more difficult on an acoustic than an electric due to the higher action and thicker strings (usually). So the physical benefit to the guitar player is greatest on an acoustic guitar.

    For example, playing a full B Major barre chord at the 7th position is fine on an electric, but can be tiring on an acoustic. Much better just to put the capo at the 5th fret and play the shape of a regular “E Major” chord, right?

How Do Capos Work?

How to use a guitar capo - front

As stated, a guitar capo is a clamp that is place on the neck of the guitar. Almost all capos cover all strings at a given fret when they’re applied. And they can be moved to any fret desired (until you run into the body of the guitar up past the 12th fret).

When you apply the capo and strum the open strings, you’re no longer strumming E – A – D – G – B – E as in normal standard tuning. You’re strumming the note values at the new fret where you place the capo.

For example, if you place it at the 5th fret, the open strings are now A – D – G – C – E – A.

This is the reason for the name: capo d’astro. You’ve artificially moved the “head of the fretboard” up to a new position.

What Chords Do I Play?

The trick to using a guitar capo is picturing your open chords (G, C, E, D, A) as shapes instead of unique chords with a set value. You’ve probably done this already – you keep your fingers in the open “G” chord shape, but move it up the neck to, say…the 7th fret. What does it sound like? Probably not that good. The notes that you’re fretting sound fine, but the open strings in the middle are now the wrong open strings (unless you’re messing with alternate tunings, but nevermind that for now).

This is where the capo comes in. If you move that “G” chord shape up to the 7th fret, and apply the capo where the nut of the guitar WOULD have been in your original position, voila! You’ve reproduced the entire “G” shape at the 7th fret. Its sounds amazing.

But what is that chords name, now? It looks like a G, but it sounds like a concert pitch B. That is to say, it would be the same as a B chord on a piano.

How Do You Figure Out What The New Chord Actually Is?

How to use guitar capo - piano keys

You need to know a tiny bit of theory, and a bit about the fretboard.

  1. The Theory: The building blocks Western music are semi-tones. A semi-tone is essentially one key on the piano. If you move to the right or left on the piano, to the closest white or black key, you’ve moved one semi-tone. And the next key is one more. Chords and scales are created by choosing to play certain semi-tones at specific intervals, and skipping the ones in between.
  2. The Fretboard: Each fret on your guitar equals one semi-tone. Going up one fret on a string is like moving to the next key on the piano.

What does this mean? It means that in order to get the new value of your capo-ed chord you have to count how many semi-tones you’ve moved the capo up the neck.

If you put the capo at the 5th fret, you can still play an “E” shape there. But since you’ve moved the capo up 5 frets (semi-tones) from normal open position, the value of the “E” shape has moved up 5 semi-tones as well. You can do this in your head, or you can sit at a piano for a second and just plunk it out. E… F….F#….G…G#….A! The E shape at the 5th fret is 5 semi-tones up from E, it’s an A chord.

Once you’ve worked out this logic for a given key, it becomes intuitive to transpose entire songs. If you’re going to start with one key, I would work on moving the chords shapes in the key of “G” around (G, C, D, Em). There’s a ton of folk and country tunes that use these chord shapes to create a cool sound.

Note: Capos Are Not Cheating

How to use a guitar capo - jazz

There’s a school of thought, particularly from a jazz backbround, that capos are cheating. This line of thinking says, You should be able to play in any key, anywhere on the neck, at any time.

But this isn’t true. Well, at least it isn’t true outside of jazz.

Sure, in jazz a single song may go through a half dozen keys (I’m looking at you, Giant Steps), so capos don’t make sense. But in many other styles, capos are simply another tool of the trade to make excellent sounding music. And in certain styles, especially folk and country, capos are neccessary to capturing the unique “sound” of the genre.


Recommended Capo:

How to use a guitar capo - shubb


The Shubb Deluxe Series GC-30 is your best bet. It’s only a few dollars (approx. $15) more than the spring-loaded competition, but it gives you better intonation by evenly applying pressure to all the strings.

View on Amazon >>

Watch Video Lessons:

Let Trace Bundy help you have fun with capos. Her video lesson series will help you see and hear how it all works.

View Lessons >>

A Nice Song Example:

Check out If I Had A Boat by Lyle Lovett. He puts the capo up at the 9th fret, and uses “G” shape chords to play this pretty song in the key of E.

Link to Tab >>

…Why 97 seconds?

Because it was how long it took me to read through this article when publishing it : )


Thoughts? Questions? Let us know in the comments below!

The post How To Use A Guitar Capo…In 97 Seconds appeared first on The Guitar Journal.

Categories: General Interest

Gibson Gary Clark Jr. Signature SG

Guitar Lifestyle - Fri, 10/06/2017 - 07:17

gary clark sg

Gibson and Gary Clark Jr. have collaborated once again to create a new signature guitar, the Gary Clark Jr. Signature SG:

The all new Gibson Limited Edition Gary Clark Jr. Signature SG guitar captures the spirit of creative inspiration. Finished in an exciting, vibrant Gloss Yellow and featuring a trio of aggressive Gibson P90 pickups, this guitar embodies the organic and sonorous sounds of one of this generation’s most influential guitarists, vocalists and songwriters.

Gary Clark Jr. is perhaps more widely associated with the Epiphone Casino, which Epiphone celebrated in the Blak & Blu Casino Signature model they made for him in 2015. However, he has been playing an SG quite a bit since collaborating with the Foo Fighters on their Sonic Highways album in 2014. Clark has stated that Foo Fighters’ guitarist Pat Smear gave him an SG during those sessions.

Earlier this year, Clark was seen playing a new SG at the Grammys show. It turns out that it was a new signature model.

This model differs quite a bit from the typical SG in that it has three P90 pickups. Gibson SGs have had P90s before, of course, but you rarely see them in a three pickup configuration. It also differs from other SG models in that it is gloss yellow, has 24 frets, and the controls are laid out in a three volume + one tone configuration.

Everything else appears to be fairly standard for SGs:

  • mahogany body
  • slim-taper neck
  • 24 3/4″ scale
  • rosewood fingerboard
  • nitro finish
  • ABR bridge

The street price of $1499 seems pretty reasonable for an American-made signature guitar. The guitar is currently (as of this writing) available at Zzounds while other retailers are taking pre-orders.

Categories: General Interest

The 1990s (The Ukulele Decade Series)

Guitar Lifestyle - Thu, 10/05/2017 - 14:02

1990s uke

By: Russ

Aloha! Let’s say that, for some CRAZY reason, you’ve never heard any music from the 1990 but because people love it so much, or request it so often, or reference it in some way, you’re looking for a crash course in it.

Or, alternatively, you’re a sucker for 1990s music and want a treasure trove of offerings from the decade.

Either way, The 1990s (from The Ukulele Decade Series) is the book for you. It’s a pretty massive tome of 80 songs with chord boxes, musical notations, and verses written out. It’s a full-size music book with about 312 pages of music and, because of this, it’s a little cumbersome. But once you get over the fact that it’s not meant to be traveled with but rather used to pull individual songs from to learn, the content really shines.

The music included is just about everything you could love from the 1990s when it comes to instrumentation. It’s got early 90s cheese (“I’d Do Anything for Love (But I Won’t Do That)”) to meaningful alternative (“Runaway Train”), odd-duck music that would have a tough time surviving in any other decade (“Santeria”), one-hit wonders (“She’s So High,” “Sex and Candy”), to songs from movies (“My Heart Will Go On”).

While Meatloaf would be an interesting pick for ukulele, most of the songs in the book seem like a natural fit and be fun to play – especially for someone who’s really into the decade. If you think about all the different offerings from all the different genres and sub-genres, you could use this book alone and put together a pretty interesting show with enough variety to be plenty interesting and enough of a theme to be fun.

Personally, this is one of the first uke books that I ever wanted. I thought that it was awesome to take a greatest-hits approach to a music book, and this one fits me so perfectly that I couldn’t NOT enjoy it. It’s my desert-island music book – the one book that I would grab and bring along if I knew it was going to be the only uke book I could have because it’s more than just the song count, it’s the quality of those songs and how much they mean to me. This book is the soundtrack to my childhood and the songs mean a lot to me. I’m sure we all feel the same way about the music we grew up with (even if you didn’t grow up in the 90s) so it’s nice to have so many fantastic songs to pull from.

And with a list price of $22.99 (and a cheaper street price), it’s a steal. I think that, as my daughter gets a better grip on the ukulele, she’ll be looking to learn some of the songs she grew up with me singing and playing to her and this is going to be appreciated like crazy. True, it doesn’t have TAB or CDs you can play along with, but I think the quantity and quality of songs makes up for it.

Overall, I couldn’t recommend it more.

You can buy direct from Hal Leonard, from Amazon, or from you favorite book store.

Until next time!

Categories: General Interest

REVIEW: Pickmaster Plectrum Cutter

I Heart Guitar - Sun, 10/01/2017 - 21:50

I don’t know where my guitar picks disappear to. I’m pretty sure it’s the same place my socks and my abs went. Some days I spend at least as much time searching for plectra as I do playing guitar, and although for years I was strictly a one-pick dude (the Jim Dunlop Jazz III), I’ve trained myself to now use whatever pick I find, wherever I find it. It’s just better and more musicianly to remain adaptable than to be bound to any one type of pick.

The makers of Pickmaster must realise this quandry because they’ve created the ideal way to ensure you are never left pickless. The Pickmaster Plectrum Cutter is a very chunky and solidly built tool which lets you stamp out picks from whatever material you find around the house – old credit cards, the lid from the butter tub – you could even be super-ironic and use it to cut a guitar pick out of one of those large triangular bass picks.

I tested the Pickmaster out first on its own packaging (how very meta), then on a few cards laying around the house. The unit is reassuringly strong, and requires a bit of pressure to cut through some materials. When it does so it cuts a perfect pick shape every time, regardless of material. Some ‘victims’ might require you to smoothe out the edges a little, which can easily be performed by rubbing the sides of the pick on your tattered old Levis or even on the carpet. Then you’re good to go.

The Pickmaster Plectrum Cutter will easily stash into your guitar case or gig bag for those little emergencies, and aside from being extraordinarily practical, it’s also a lot of fun. I can see myself making little pick-shaped pasta out of lasagne sheets, or maybe pick-shaped confetti out of shiny paper for some kind of special guitar-related occasion (I’m not sure what occasion that might be yet – I’ll invent one).

The post REVIEW: Pickmaster Plectrum Cutter appeared first on I Heart Guitar.

Categories: General Interest

Surf Guitar - Instrumental Guitar Music

The Unique Guitar Blog - Sun, 10/01/2017 - 13:46
The British Invasion

In 1965 the British Invasion was in full force, and so was the guitar boon. As a 13 year old boy, I had to have a guitar, and so did many of my friends.

The Surfaris

The popular British groups were mostly vocal groups. So, back in those days, to learn guitar we turned to guitar groups such as The Ventures, Dick Dale and the Del-Tones, The Chantays, and of course The Surfaris.

The Surfaris - Wipe Out
The Surfaris had written, recorded and performed the one-hit wonder “Wipe Out”. This simple 12 bar tune had only four notes that were repeated in the I, IV, and V position. If a guy had any sense of rhythm at it was simple to learn, and a great starter tune for all those young garage band guitarists.

An early publicity photo of
The Ventures
Those of us who wanted to take a further plunge into Surf guitar stepped up to learn songs by The Ventures, such as Walk, Don’t Run (both versions) or The Chantays song, Pipeline,  or Dick Dale’s Miserlou, or The Marketts song Out of LImits. All you needed was a good ear, and some ability to play basic guitar.

Dick Dale
Credit should be given to Dick Dale for the creation of Surf Music. As a young man, Dale had two passions; playing guitar and surfing. He was born in Boston, with the name Richard Monsour. His family lived in an Arab/Lebanese community in Quincy Mass, where he learned to play traditional music that was taught to him by his uncle. One of these songs was known as Egyptian Muslim Girl in Arabic, but translated to Miserlou in English.

While growing up, Dale learned to play traditional instruments. And this is where he got his rapid picking technique.

By his teen years, Dale's father got a new job and moved the family to El Segundo, California. There Dick got involved with surfing and taught himself how to play guitar. And he became a master of both skills.

Dick Dale and The Del-Tones
He changed his surname to Dale, dabbled for a while in Country and Western music, before finding a niche by creating music about surfers and surfing. He then put together a band and called it Dick Dale and The Deltones.

By 1961 Dick Dale had become so popular in the city of Newport Beach that he was able to get permission from the owner of the Rendezvous Ballroom to reopen the shuttered establishment and put on a series of dances that he called Stomps. These events were very popular, drawing crowds of up to 4,000 people at each dance. Dale played this venue for a six-month stretch.

Dick Dale and the Del-Tones
During his sets, he kept blowing up his amplifiers, since his style of playing pushed those amps and speakers to the breaking point. As a result he got in touch with Leo Fender and Freddie Travares. Both men came to watch him play and after the shows, the men all got together to discuss what could be done.

Dick Dale with original Stratocaster
The result was the creation of the Fender Showman amp, which had transformers that could withstand Dale’s aggressive and extremely loud style, and also had a 15” JBL D130F heavy duty speaker, and boosted an output of 100 watts RMS.

This was the amplifier that Dale needed, and it went on to become the staple of most Surf bands.

Fender Reverb Unit
The other device that Dale, and many other Surf bands used was a outboard Fender Reverb Unit; model 6G15. This was a tube powered device that utilized a 12AT7 preamp tube, a 6K6 power tube, and a 12AX7 tube as the reverb recovery tube. This unit was usually placed on the floor, so it would not rattle on top of the amp and make noise.

It featured three controls; Dwell, Mixer, and Tone. This was usually the only effect that Surf bands used.

Surf music was meant to be played clean and loud. Any distortion came from the tubes in the amplifier.

The Chantays

Dale was a Californian. So were the members of the Chantays. Surprisingly,  some of the most well-known Surf bands were not from California, or even near an ocean.

The Marketts
The Marketts were more or less a studio band that played songs written by producer/songwriter Michael Z. Gordon. In 1961 Gordon put together a group of musicians from his home town of Rapid City, South Dakota called The Routers, and the group went on tour.

The Routers eventually moved to California and were signed by Warner Brothers Records, where they had a hit record called The Pony.

The Marketts aka The Routers
Gordon went on to write another tune that he called Outer Limits. This instrumental had a catchy recurring four note theme, which sounded too close to the theme song of a very popular television show called the Twilight Zone.

Around the same time the song was released, the Twilight Zone’s creator, Rod Serling, had developed another science fiction/mystery show called The Outer Limits. Not only was Mr. Serling not amused with the song, he thought the song’s title infringed on his new show's trademark name. Serling sued and to settle the song was re-titled Out of Limits.

Out of Limits
Like many touring bands from that era, the song was actually recorded by session players in Los Angeles, including drummer Hal Blaine. This method saved the record companies money and put out recordings that were professionally done. Out of Limits went on to sell over a million copies. Gordon went on to write some lesser known surf songs. He later became famous for writing film and television music.

The Chantays

The Chantays started in 1961 as a group when they were still high school students in Orange County, California. A year later they had a hit record with their song; Pipeline. The Chantays had a few other minor hits, but will forever be remember for their one big hit.

The Chantays on Lawrence Welk

Pipeline was so popular that it was recorded by many other artists. The Chantays other claim to fame was being the only Rock/Surf band ever to be featured on The Lawrence Welk Show.

The Ventures 

Perhaps the biggest instrumental surf music band of all was not from California. Members of The Ventures all lived and worked in Tacoma, Washington.

Don Wilson and Bob Bogle
Don Wilson and Bob Bogle had a chance meeting in 1958 where they discovered they both played guitar. These guys bought a couple of used guitars from a pawn shop and started playing at bars and small clubs.

Nokie Edwards at right
They went to see guitarist Nokie Edwards, who was playing at a nightclub and asked if he would join them as a bass player.  He took them up on the offer. They called themselves The Ventures.

The Ventures with Howie Johnson
The band later went through several drummers before settling on a guy named Howie Johnson. The drummer that originally played on the recording of Walk, Don’t Run, was Skip Moore. Moore left the group to work at his families gas station

Next George Babbitt joined the group, but had to leave, because he was too young to play in nighclubs.

Babbitt went on to become a 4 Star General in the US Army.

The Ventures with Mel Taylor
Johnson played with The Ventures until he was injured in an automobile accident. He was replaced by Mel Taylor.

Back when Wilson and Bogle met Nokie Edward, he was already performing a Chet Atkins song called in his nightclub set called Walk, Don’t Run. This song was actually written by jazz guitarist Johnny Smith.

The Ventures Walk, Don't Run
The Ventures took their version of this song to a recording studio and laid down a track, along with a B-side called Home, and had the company press some 45 rpm records, which they shipped to record companies and radio stations.

The tune was eventually picked up by Dolton Records and went on to become #2 on the charts. It was later redone by The Ventures with an updated surf guitar arrangement and released again as Walk, Don’t Run ‘64. This song became one of only a handful of recordings that charted twice on the Billboard Hot 100.

Walk, Don't Run
Walk, Don’t Run became required playing for all garage bands in the mid 1960’s. It’s theme was slightly more complex than other surf songs, as it went from a minor to a major mode. The Ventures went on to produce many more albums, and even TV themes, however the early recordings were generally surf based music.

The Pyramids (with Dick Clark)
Another one-hit wonder band was The Pyramids. These guys were from Long Beach, California and scored in the Billboard Top 20 with their self penned song called Penetration. The group went on to get a part in the Bikini Beach movie, playing another song they had written called Bikini Drag.

1964 Fender Showman 15" JBL
Most Surf groups used high wattage Fender amplifiers, usually a Showman, or Dual Showman. The only outboard effects were the stand-alone Fender Reverb unit. The sound also sometimes relied on the amplifiers onboard tremolo/vibrato circut.

Mosrite Fuzzrite
In 1964, The Ventures were working with Semie Moseley, and he gave them a Mosrite Fuzzrite pedal, which was used on a few songs; notably the 2000 Pound Bee (Although one source cites that the fuzz pedal used by The Ventures was made by a pedal steel player named Red Rhodes, that joined them on the album The Ventures In Space).

Interestingly, Moseley had hired a young man to help design amplifiers for his company. So Alexander Dumble is rumored to have modified The Venture’s Fender amplifiers.

Early photo of The Ventures

During their early years, The Ventures played late 1950 era Fender guitars; a Jazzmaster, a Stratocaster, and a Precision Bass.

Mosrite guitars had already become popular in California, due to the double neck model that Joe Maphis and Larry Collins played on a California television show called Ranch Party.

Gene Moles with his Mosrite
Semie Moseley, the guitars creator, also made a single neck version. Nokie Edward saw a local guitarist named Gene Moles playing one of these new Mosrite guitars. Edwards was fascinated with the sound and design and asked if Moles would introduce him to Moseley. On their first meeting Nokie Edwards walked away with a Mosrite guitar.

Ventures Model
Before long, Edwards struck up a deal with Moseley to build guitars under The Ventures logo. This arrangement lasted from 1963 to 1965, when the model name was changed to the Mark I. However The Ventures continued to tour with Mosrite guitars from 1963 to 1968.

Briefly Mosrite had attempted to build and market an all transistor amplifier under The Ventures banner. However it failed, due to design problems. After the agreement between Mosrite and the Ventures ended, The Ventures returned to playing Fender instruments.

Wilson Brothers
Ventures Model

Later in life, the group had arrangements with Aria Guitars, and Wilson Brothers Guitars to produce Ventures model guitars.

Aria Ventures model

And later in their career, The Ventures enjoyed a resurgence of popularity in Japan; the same country where Aria guitars are manufactured.

The Chantays

The Chantays played matching 1960 model Fender Stratocasters and a Fender Precision Bass from that same era after they became famous.

The Chantays

Prior to that one of the players used a 1961 Kay K580 with a single coil pickup. The other player had either a Valco or Airline single pickup guitar. The Chantay’s bass player had a 1960’s model Precision bass.

This group used Fender Showman amplifiers that were built between 1960 - 63 that were covered with white Tolex and had maroon grill clothe. Before that they have a Fender Deluxe amp, and a Danelectro/Silvertone style Twin Twelve amplifier, and of course the Fender reverb units.

The Pyramids
The two guitarists in the Pyramids played 1960 Fender Stratocasters. One player was left-handed and played a red strat, while the other right-handed player had a white strat. The bass player had a sunburst Precision bass with a black pickguard. This group also used “blonde” Fender Showman amplifiers.

Dick Dale's Stratocaster

Dick Dale was given a Fender Stratocaster by Leo Fender. The story goes that Dale visited Fender at his office and announced that he was a guitar player, but did not have an instrument. Leo procured a Strat and has Dale to play something.

Dick Dale's Stratocaster

Since Dale was left-handed, he flipped the guitar upside down and to Mr. Fender’s amusement played the guitar in this manner. Dick Dale had learned to play guitar with the large E string on the bottom and the small one on the top.

Mr. Fender must have been impressed because he had a left-handed Stratocaster built for Dick Dale. However Dale always strung it like it was a right-handed guitar.

Dale's set up - original Showman amp
 - Dual Showman cab - reverb unit

Dale and Leo Fender had lengthy discussions on building guitars, amplifiers, and even combo organs. As previously stated, this was how the Fender Showman and Dual Showman were developed. At Dale’s suggestion the Tolex was changed from white material, to a light brown colour, which showed less dirt.

Dick Dale’s mid 1950’s Fender Stratocaster was originally painted Olympic White with a red tortoise shell pickguard. It is odd, since most models of that vintage had maple fretboards, Dick Dales model was perhaps the first of that era to have a rosewood fretboard.

Dale modified the guitar by removing all of the pots, since he felt they took away from the volume, and he always kept the guitar at full volume anyway.

His guitar had the older 3-way toggle switch. Dale had another switch installed that turned the middle pickup on or off. This enabled him to use the middle and neck pickups or the middle and bridge pickups simultaneously. Dick Dale never used the vibrato. He blocked it off with a piece of wood.

Dick Dale's repainted Stratocaster
Sometime in 1963, Dale had the guitar repainted with a gold sparkle finish. He also changed pickguard to a plain white one. It has remained that way for years, and Dick Dale still uses the same guitar in his concerts.

Though Dick Dale was mainly thought of as an instrumental guitarist, he also sang on many of his early recordings.

1960 Fender Jazzmaster

Many of the California Surf and instrument guitar players preferred the Fender Jazzmaster, because of its pickups, which had a warmer sound than Stratocaster pickup and some of its other attributes.

1959 Fender Jazzmaster
One of the other features that made this guitar desirable to Surf players was it’s dual circuitry. The switch on the guitars upper bout enabled the player to chose the lead mode, in which both pickups acted conventionally, or the rhythm mode, which worked only on the neck pickup.

In this mode, volume and tone were controlled by the roller switches on the upper bout. This also activated a capacitor in this circuit that gave the guitar a warmer tone with more of an acoustic feel. The other difference was the use of 1M linear taper potentiometers for the lead tone control, and a 50 k linear taper potentiometer for the rhythm tone control.

The final feature that made the Jazzmaster most desirable was it’s long-armed vibrato. The vibrato in Surf  music of the day was used subtly to enhance the end of musical phrases.

1960's Fender Stratocaster

The Fender Stratocaster seemed to be the preferable  choice for Surf bands as their lead instrument. It was usually played with the bridge pickup activated to get the best sound for this genre.

Fender Flatwound strings

Strings were also important to Surf players. They preferred heavier gauged flat-wound strings.

Difference - roundwound - flatwound

These strings were great for recording, and perhaps live playing, since there was no string scraping noise.

Dick Dale preferred regular extremely heavy gauged guitar strings as part of his sound. His preference was .016, .18, .20, .39, .49, and .60 gauge strings, with the .60 string being the first string.

One other aspect of surf music that may seem odd today, but was downright cool to a kid in the 1960’s was that while the groups played they also did a sort of synchronized dance; moving the guitar necks up, down, and side to side, while stepping back, forth, and sideways sometimes kicking a leg up and down. It is damn silly looking now.

Over on the other side of the world, there were a couple of groups that were prominent in instrumental music, which sounded very close to Surf music.

The Shadows

The Shadows were originally formed as the band that backed popular British singer Cliff Richards on his recordings and shows, and worked with him from 1956 to 1968.

However the group charted with several instrumental hits on their own. Most notably was a 1960 song called Apache. It was a great song.

The Shadows band included guitarists Bruce Welch, and Brian Rankin, aka Hank Marvin. They added bass player Jet Harris, aka Terrance Harris, and drummer Tony Meehan.

Apache - The Shadows
The song, Apache, was written by Jerry Lordan, went on to become a number 1 hit in the UK and abroad.

The Shadows had several more hit songs. Perhaps the best known player from the group was Hank Marvin. He was one of the first players in the UK to own a Fender Stratocaster.

VML Easy Mute and Trem bar
Marvin later modified this guitar to include a device called a VML Easy Mute Vibrato. This features a longer trem arm with an extra bend at the base. It allowed the player to hold onto the bar while picking the notes, and muting the bass strings with the palm of one's hand.

The Shadows - Burns/Baldwin Guitars
At one point Marvin and the Shadows played Burns of London/Baldwin guitars, but later went back to Fender instruments. They always played through Vox AC30 amplifiers., and used a Watkins Copicat tape echo unit.

Telestar Satellite - 1962
In 1962 Bell Laboratories launched the first of two communications satellites into orbit around the Earth. Both satelited were called Telestar. The world was in awe and so was a British record producer/sound engineer named Joe Meek.

Joe Meek

Meek had a rented flat above a leather goods shop in Northern London. There he kept a lot of recording equipment. One electronic instrument that he had on hand was called a Clavioline.

Joe Meek's Clavioline
This was a small electronic keyboard, which came with an amplifier and a stand. The Clavioline was only capable of generating one note at a time. Joe Meek used this instrument to compose the theme to a song he called Telestar.

Joe Meek and The Toranados
Meek recorded this song in his apartment and accomplished part of the arrangement by splicing in recordings of the computer like language that the satellite was transmitting back to Earth. He interspersed this with the theme music that was played on Clavioline, guitar, bass, and drums. He must have recorded the musicians there after the shop had closed.

His recording was laced with a lot of echo and reverberation giving the illusion that this song was being played by a much larger group in a much larger hall.

The group of musicians that recorded Telestar were known as the Toranados. They went on to do live performances of Telestar and other songs and were featured on LP's.

The Toranados
Some of the members were session players in the British recording industry. These members included Clem Cattini on drums, Alan Caddy, who played the lead guitar part on a double cutaway Chet Atkins Gretsch model (also a Duo-Jet), George Bellamy who played o rhythm guitar on a mid 1950’s acoustic Gretsch model 6030 , that had an aftermarket pickup built into the pickguard (also seen with a Gretsch Anniversary), Heinz Burt, who played bass on a Framus Star bass guitar, and Geoff Goddard who played the Clavioline and did the vocal.

The Original Telestar Record
The Telestar song sold over 5 million copies and won awards. And though it was not a Surf song, it was a very important instrumental in rock/pop music history for this period.

Click on the links below the images for sources. Click on the links in the text for more information.
©UniqueGuitar Publications (text only)

Categories: General Interest

Writing Guitar Tabs? Seven Serious Software Options

The Guitar Journal - Thu, 09/28/2017 - 09:49

Writing guitar tabs? There are a lot of tools that can help you do this – some are better than others. Here is a quick overview of several, popular software tools for writing guitar tabs.

Keep in mind, there are a few basic goals you should identify before choosing one:

  1. Are you only working from guitar, or do you want a more comprehensive tool?  If you’re a guitarist working mostly from that instrument, check out the first batch of options.  If you’re multi-instrumentalist, pianist, composer who is looking to write some parts for a guitarist BUT also do a lot of other stuff, you’ll probably be more interested in the second batch of options.
  2. Are you looking to write professional level scores, or just jot down some riffs?  For professional scores, you’ll need a robust software tool and probably need to pay a few more dollars.  These are serious options designed for both guitarists and general musicians.  But if you just want to jot down quick riffs, you might look at the Tabd software app.


Guitarist-Oriented Software

These software tools are designed with the guitarist in mind first.  That means they do standard musical notation and other things, but are primarily set up for writing guitar tabs, composing, and generally working within a guitarists mindset.


Guitar Pro 7

Guitar Pro 7 is a professional tab and notation system with loads of features for guitarists who want to literally write music.  Truly a “best in class” piece of software specifically for guitarists.

Learn More >>

See Our Review Here >>



Tabd is an iOS (and soon Android) app aimed at another type of guitar player: the guitarist who wants to do light tab notation, and that’s it.  For jotting down riffs, sending them to friends, keeping a library of tab on your phone, it can’t be beat.
Note: there’s no desktop version of this.

Learn More >>

See Our Review Here >>



Progression is another powerful software for guitarists, guitarists, and drummers to notate music.  One advantage of Progression is the interface for entering music through a visual fretboard, keyboard, and drum pad.  Another is the real music sampling done by folks like Victor Wooten, so you can play back your tab in style.

Learn More >>



Check out TuxGuitar if you’re looking for free and open source solution.  It provides the ability to write scores with tab or standard notation.
Fair warning: at the time of this writing, last release was January 2016.

Learn More >>


General Scoring Software with Tab functionality

These software tools are designed for the general musician to create standard musical notation.  This often means that they are designed for a piano-based workflow.  Guitar tab options are present, but often incorporated as a second, derivative option.



The gold standard of music notation software. Finale has long been the ‘go to’ solution for notating music in any genre and for any instrument. It’s a powerful software that takes some time to learn, sort of like Photoshop.  But once you do, you can create anything you want.

Learn More >>



Sibelius is the other ‘go to’ solution for music notation software.  Like Coke and Pepsi, Ford and Chevy, Macs and PCs – there are just different groups of people who are strongly committed to either brand.  In the end, you get the same high horsepower from Sibelius in terms of notation, scoring, and features.

Learn More >>


MagicScore Maestro

MagicScore Maestro aims to be a full service music notation software, but at a lower price.  If you want to work with traditional scoring and music notation but are budget-constrained, this may be something to check out.

Learn More >

Have a software recommendation?  Let us know in the comments below!

The post Writing Guitar Tabs? Seven Serious Software Options appeared first on The Guitar Journal.

Categories: General Interest


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