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Gear Review: Goldfinch Guitars Kensington, Painted Lady Rhythm Master

Wed, 12/13/2017 - 13:50
The Goldfinch Kensington (top) and Painted Lady Rhythm Master (bottom).

Just like Harley Davidson and Apple, Goldfinch Guitars started out in a garage. Rather than build an expensive clone of something you’ve already seen, Goldfinch wanted to give guitarists an affordable piece of art that captured one sound well without an abundance of knobs and switches.

First up is the Kensington, which gets its name from the Philadelphia neighborhood it was designed in. Other models on the Goldfinch site are listed as limited runs, but the Kensington is here to stay. It features the company’s signature funky reverse headstock, a poplar body and a chunky maple neck. The fretboard is engineered to prevent travel woes.

The Kensington was designed with rhythm players in mind, so shredders should plan accordingly. In fact, no matter how hard you try, you’re not going to get past the 18th fret! Despite the “No high notes allowed” rule, it is a very easy and lightweight guitar to play. Even easier than its playability are the electronics. You’ll notice no pickup switches. With just a volume and a tone knob all three pickups are wired in parallel. The end result is like a loud and bright mega-humbucker!

Next up is The Painted Lady Rhythm Master. Part of a limited run, this is Goldfinch’s first 12 string electric. Following suit of the Kensington, The Painted Lady Rhythm Master has even simpler electronics; a mini-humbucker and a single volume knob. Other features include a poplar body, a set mahogany neck and a maple fretboard. Also, I can’t keep quiet about the Explorer-like body with a matte pink pickguard, it just looks too cool.

While the company has offered some USA-built instruments, both models I reviewed were built in China. Straight out of the box, the necks, frets and action were exceptional on both guitars. I could’ve easily gigged with The Kensington that night. The Painted Lady Rhythm Master needed a few tweaks to the bridge to get the intonation set, but 12 strings are notoriously fussy.

Clip 1: This starts with the Kensington through a Fender Blues Junior about halfway up, followed up with the tone and volume rolled back on the Kensington. To finish up I cranked the volume and tone back and put a Tube Screamer in front of the amp for some overdrive.

Clip 2: Here’s how The Painted Lady Rhythm Master sounds with some slowly picked open chords, which give it a natural chorus effect. At the end of the clip I double-tracked a riff and an open A chord, like I was trying to write my own Sixties TV theme or something.

Learn more about the Kensington ($249) and the Painted Lady Rhythm Master ($425) at

Categories: General Interest

How to Use Open Strings for Blues

Wed, 12/13/2017 - 12:45

The folks over at Texas Blues Alley—makers of "How to Mix Chords with Blues Licks" and "10 Ways to Start a Blues Guitar Solo"—recently (ish) posted a lesson video on the subject of how and when to use open strings in a blues context.

The video takes you through a few keys, and shows you how you can use open strings in each.

Though there are no accompanying tabs with the lesson, the camera angle makes it fairly easy to see exactly what's going on. You can watch the lesson above.

Be sure to check out Texas Blues Alley’s YouTube page for more great lessons.

Categories: General Interest

Seymour Duncan Releases Dave Mustaine Signature Thrash Factor Humbucker

Wed, 12/13/2017 - 11:10

Seymour Duncan has announced the release of its new Dave Mustaine Signature Thrash Factor humbucker. According to press materials issued by the company today, the pickup recreates the unique tone of Mustaine’s favorite Seymour Duncan JB, which was used to record some of Megadeth's most iconic music.

In 1990, Megadeth released their landmark fourth album, Rust in Peace. Its breakneck rhythms, intricate arrangements, shifting time signatures and blazing dual lead guitar lines showcased the band’s mastery of their craft. During the recording of the album, Mustaine relied heavily on one guitar in particular—an ex loaded with a Seymour Duncan JB in the bridge and a 59 model in the neck.

According to Mustaine, that JB had a tone that that was different from an "off the shelf" JB, and it had become part of his signature sound.

Seymour Duncan worked closely with Mustaine to recreate the tone and feel of his favorite JB, ultimately altering the winding process in order to achieve the tone he was looking for. Compared to the standard JB model, the Thrash Factor’s low end is tighter, the mids are slightly scooped and the highs are more aggressive.

"Thrash Factor re-creates the tone of the original Dave Mustaine King V1, the first 24-fret fire-breathing monster," Mustaine says.

The Dave Mustaine Signature Thrash Factor is hand built in Santa Barbara, California. A set costs $199. This signature series comes in multiple options, including:

» Black
» Custom Color
» Set
» Bridge/Neck
» Trembucker

For more information, check out the video above and step right this way.

Categories: General Interest

Alice Cooper Premieres New "The Sound of A" Music Video

Wed, 12/13/2017 - 11:00

Alice Cooper has premiered the music video for his song, "The Sound of A." You can watch it above.

"The Sound of A" is a significant song for Cooper, as it's the very first song he wrote entirely on his own—way back in 1967. It had long been forgotten until Dennis Dunaway—the Alice Cooper Band's original bassist—rediscovered it and played it for Cooper, after which the duo updated the song and recorded it for Cooper's most recent album, Paranormal.

The song will be released as the title track of a forthcoming EP—set to come out February 23—that also will feature four previously unreleased recordings from the Paranormal tour.

For more on Cooper, drop by

Categories: General Interest

Learning to Slide: How This Legato Technique Can Enhance Your Sound

Wed, 12/13/2017 - 10:11

Sliding is a legato technique that allows a guitarist to manipulate the sound of a note after it is played.

Sliding is a legato technique that allows a guitarist to manipulate the sound of a note after it is played.

Slides enable you to connect two or more notes smoothly and quickly, and make for more seamless position changes on the fretboard. They add life to notes and lend a vocal quality to your licks. Sliding is an essential technique for both rhythm and lead playing. As the name suggests, a slide is produced by picking a fretted note and then sliding your fretting finger up or down the string, maintaining contact with it, to arrive at a new note on another fret. When the destination fret is reached, this new note will sound.

In order to produce an effective slide, constant pressure is needed on the string throughout the length of the slide. A slide can be as short as a single fret or as long as the entire length of the fretboard. Slides can also be done with chords. Slides are noted by an upward or downward diagonal line connecting notes in notation or numbers in tablature. They can have the letters "sl." written above them as well.

Successful slides are a matter of touch. When you first pick the string, fret the note as you normally do. As soon as you start your slide, ease up slightly on your fretting finger so it glides swiftly and effortlessly over the frets to the next note. Too much pressure, and your finger won't slide; too little, and you won't create the sound of the slide. Once you reach your desired note, reapply pressure with your fingertip, otherwise the target note won't sound. Below are some basic variations on the slide technique:

Two-note slides connected with a slur.

A slur (curved line indicating notes that are to be articulated with either a hammer-on, pull-off, or slide) along with a diagonal line indicates a legato slide. This means that you pick the first note and then slide into the second without picking the second note. This slide can be executed either ascending or descending.

Let's give it a try: Play the note on the first string, ninth fret. Hold the note for one beat, and then on beat two, while the string is still ringing, quickly slide your fret-hand finger to the twelfth fret, keeping full finger pressure the whole time. This will cause the note at the twelfth fret to sound without you picking it.

Slides connecting two picked notes.

To play slides that are noted with a diagonal line but no slur, you pick both the first and second notes. Again, this type of slide can be executed either ascending or descending. Play and hold the first string, ninth-fret note for a beat. Then, at beat two, slide up to the twelfth fret and strike the string with the pick just as you arrive at the twelfth fret.

Sliding into a slide.

This slide doesn't connect two different notes but rather slides into a note from an indefinite point typically a few frets below, much the same way a baseball player slides into home plate. It is a quick slide and is heard as one note, not two. It isn't in rhythm and serves only to decorate your target note. This slide is noted as a dash preceding a note. What you want to do when beginning this type of slide is to start your hand moving in the direction of your target note before starting to press down on the strings. Begin the slide from two or three frets below your target note. Using the first string, ninth fret note as your target note, and using minimal finger pressure, strike the string with the pick while your fret-hand finger is in motion, somewhere between the starting and target frets (the sixth and ninth frets, in this example). As your finger slides up, gradually increase your finger pressure so that as you arrive at the target fret (the ninth fret), you are exerting full pressure.

Sliding out of a slide.

The opposite of sliding into a slide is sliding out of one. After holding a note for its duration, simply slide your fret-hand finger down the fretboard toward the nut and lift the finger after a couple of frets. This slide is noted as a dash following a note. Using the first string, ninth-fret note, pick the string in the normal manner. After letting the note ring for the indicated duration, slide your fret-hand finger down the string, gradually releasing finger pressure as you go, to cause a fading-away effect. After a few frets, lift your finger completely off the string.

Long slide.

A long slide is simply an ascending or descending slide that goes nearly all the way up or down the neck, releasing finger pressure and finally removing your finger from the string toward the end of the neck at either end of the guitar. At some point during the long upward or downward slide, if you don't release finger pressure and stop your hand, you will end up hearing some note as a stopping point. If you let go of the string, you will end up hearing an open string.

Slide up and back down again.

Here you are sliding up the fretboard and then back down but not really hearing a specific starting or ending note. This is hard to notate specifically. Because of this the notation is usually a little more detailed than the true spirit of the effect. Try sliding to approximately the twelfth fret (if you miss the mark and hit the eleventh or the thirteenth fret, you won't really hear much of a difference), and use the twelfth fret as the point where you reverse direction and take your slide back down.


If you play a slide slowly enough, you produce what's known as a glissando. It's an effect that you hear on harps, pianos, and guitars, where all the notes between the two principal notes sound. Glissando is noted by a wavy line between two notes.  


Sliding is a relatively easy technique that shouldn't take you too long to master, but because you may experience some minor challenges when first learning to slide, here are ways to clear the most common of these hurdles:   If you experience an uneven tone, remember to keep your sliding finger pressed down evenly on the string during the duration of the slide.

If you experience lag in sliding, chances are you're gripping the neck too tightly which will result in a slow slide that won't sound smooth. Relax your hand and lighten your grip. Your fretting hand should be able to move about freely. Press down only as hard as you need to in order for the note to keep ringing. You may discover that you have bad aim when sliding. You either overshoot or undershoot the targeted note. To remedy this, keep your eyes on the slide as you execute it, especially a longer slide, to ensure a more accurate result. Another thing to consider when sliding is what to do with your thumb. It will either make or break your slide.

If you don't have to move your thumb to slide, don't. It provides a stable foundation. If you're sliding short distances, chances are you won't have to move your thumb. If you're sliding longer ones, you definitely will. In this case, remember to relax your hand and grip while maintaining adequate pressure when moving from fret to fret. Your finger and thumb should release just enough to move freely. Go slower until you get the movement down. Finally, be sure to practice sliding with all your fingers. Yes, even your pinky. Don't limit sliding to your just index finger.

Kathy Dickson writes for the online guitar lesson site Guitar Tricks.

Categories: General Interest

Andy Timmons Launches GuitarXperience Lesson Site

Wed, 12/13/2017 - 08:45
“I've been dreaming of putting this website together for several years and finally feel ready to tackle it.” —Andy Timmons

“Andy Timmons is one of those rare guitar players that plays all the best right notes," Steve Vai once said. "His intonation is stunning, and that enables his delicious tone to be seductive and comfortable on the ear. Everything resonates so beautifully, but then again, we are what we play—and he is that.”

Timmons—the former Danger Danger and Pawn Kings guitarist who now fronts the Andy Timmons Band—is able to share those “best right notes” with fans, courtesy of his new lesson website,

Actually, is more than a lesson site. The guitarist also uses it as a platform to share details about his musical past, present and future; the site provides fans—serious and casual—with an opportunity to “hang out” with Timmons while picking up some useful pointers.

“I've been dreaming of putting this website together for several years and finally feel ready to tackle it,” Timmons says. “I've had a pretty amazing career in music that has spanned over five decades, and I’m looking forward to examining my prior recordings as well as forging ahead to learn new things and share them with you. I consider myself extremely fortunate to still be doing what I love to do and I thank you for letting me be your coach as you pursue your own musical journey. 

"It's my privilege to share my knowledge and experience with all of you, and I'm sure I will learn a lot on the way as well. Getting back into teaching over the last few years has been really inspiring, and I’m always honored when I have the opportunity to help fellow players find their path and enjoy their music even more. Whether your goal is a career in music or simply to enjoy playing the guitar in a more satisfying manner, I know you will find some very helpful and entertaining material here."

Three membership options are available, starting at $40 per month.

For more information, check out the video above and visit For more about Timmons, visit

Categories: General Interest

Watch Jeff Loomis Discuss Ernie Ball Paradigm Strings

Wed, 12/13/2017 - 08:29

In this video from Ernie Ball, shred-master Jeff Loomis discusses the company’s new Paradigm strings.

As Ernie Ball’s latest string innovation, Paradigm represents the most advanced string technology ever created, and the strings are the first to come with a fully backed guarantee: If they break or rust within 90 days of purchase, Ernie Ball will replace them free of charge.

“I think that with the Paradigm strings, it gives me that much more confidence in the live situation,” Loomis says. 

The strings feature a combination of Ernie Ball’s proprietary Everlast nanotreatment coupled with a breakthrough plasma process that further enhances the corrosion resistance like never before.

Watch the video below, and to find out more, visit

Categories: General Interest

Bon Jovi, Dire Straits, Moody Blues Lead Rock and Roll Hall of Fame 2018 Inductees

Wed, 12/13/2017 - 07:51

A week after announcing the results of the fan vote for its 2018 inductions, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame has announced its class of 2018. Bon Jovi—who easily won the fan vote—Moody Blues, Dire Straits, The Cars and Nina Simone will all be enshrined at the ceremony at Cleveland's Public Hall on April 14, 2018.

Notable omissions included Radiohead—who were on the ballot for the first time this year—and Judas Priest, who had finished fifth in the fan voting. Sister Rosetta Tharpe—who was also up for induction—will be given an Early Influence award.

"I wasn't surprised, but I was pleased," Jon Bon Jovi told The New York Times of his band's induction.

An edited version of the ceremony will air at a later date on HBO and on radio on SiriusXM.

For more information on the ceremony, stop by

Categories: General Interest

Jake E. Lee Shows What Most Guitarists Get Wrong About "Bark at the Moon"

Wed, 12/13/2017 - 07:25

Above, check out some interesting footage of guitarist Jake E. Lee showing a group of fans the correct way to play "Bark at the Moon," the 1983 Ozzy Osbourne track Lee played on (and, legend has it, co-wrote).

In the footage, which was shot March 13, 2014, in Owasso, Oklahoma, Lee pinpoints the sections of the song that "most people get wrong," starting with the opening riff. Lee also implies that most online tabs of the song are incorrect. "They think it's F# to a D to an E, and it's not!"

Lee, who is playing his signature Charvel model in the video, was on the road at the time with his current band, Red Dragon Cartel, who were touring in support of their self-titled debut album. Late in 2013, Lee chatted with Guitar World about RDC and his days with Ozzy.

"I wouldn’t have missed it for anything," Lee said. "It was very exciting. I went from being just another guitar player in L.A. to playing at the US Festival in front of hundreds of thousands of people and traveling the world. The only thing that would have made it better is if I’d been able to do it all with a group of friends, like everybody else I knew."

We also asked Lee if he clicked with Ozzy on a personal level.

"We definitely were different types of people," he said. "And I’m sure that had a lot to do with it. I mean, I don’t know personally what Ozzy’s relationship with Randy was like, but from the outside it looked like they were brothers. Ozzy and I, we never connected on anything more than, 'Here’s a song, let’s play it.' We never became friends. We never bonded. We worked well together, but I think maybe at some point Ozzy wanted to get a deeper connection with his guitar player. And he obviously got that with Zakk [Wylde], because they spent a lot of years together.

"I was [surprised to be let go]. I didn’t see it coming at all. In fact, it was my roommate, who was my tech at the time, who told me I was out of the band. He came back from the Rainbow one night and he said, 'Everybody’s talking about how you just got fired.' So I called up Sharon [Osbourne], and I was like, 'I just heard the weirdest rumor.' She said, 'Oh, my god. It’s true, it’s true.' I went, 'I’m fired?' And she said, 'Yes.' My whole world got turned upside down."

Lee will be back in action with Red Dragon Cartel soon. Their new album, Patina, is expected to be released in early 2018; it'll be the band's first release with drummer Phil Varone and bassist Anthony Esposito. Darren James Smith is on vocals.

According to Lee, fans can expect to hear some surprises on the new disc.

"I've said this in interviews before and I really look like an asshole," he says. "But my end goal isn't to please people. And I suppose that is what an entertainer is supposed to do—give people what they want. That's not why I do it, that's not why I've ever done it. I do it for me. And it sounds selfish, but I think that's…You have to be true to yourself. I make music that I wanna hear. I just hope other people like it also. If they don't, oh, well."

In the 2017 video above, Lee discusses his "guitarsenal" at the studio in western Pennsylvania where Patina was recorded; in the 2017 clip below, Lee plays a bit of "Painted Heart," a track that will most likely be featured on Patina. Stay tuned for more!

Categories: General Interest

Smithereens Frontman Pat DiNizio Dead at 62

Wed, 12/13/2017 - 05:56
Pat DiNizio of the Smithereens sings during the USA Tennis Rock & Rally on April 28, 2003, at Rockefeller Center in New York City.

Pat DiNizio, lead singer and rhythm guitarist for New Jersey-based rock band the Smithereens, died Tuesday. He was 62. The band announced the news through social media this morning, although a cause of death was not provided. 

"It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of Pat DiNizio, lead singer and songwriter of the influential New Jersey rock band, the Smithereens, America's Band. Pat was looking forward to getting back on the road and seeing his many fans and friends. Please keep Pat in your thoughts and prayers."

Variery reports that DiNizio had been plagued by health problems in recent years; he apparently lost the use of his right hand in 2015 and incurred nerve damage following a pair of falls. The Smithereens had to cancel three tour dates earlier this year after DiNizio injured his back and neck in another fall.

The band, which was formed in Carteret, New Jersey, in 1980, enjoyed a string of Sixties-influenced hits in the Eighties and early Nineties, including "A Girl Like You," “Blood and Roses,” “Strangers When We Meet,” “Behind the Wall of Sleep,” “In a Lonely Place” and “Only a Memory.”

Although the Smithereens hit the big time, DiNizio continued to live in New Jersey; in fact, he became a familiar face on the state's local music scene, often turning up at clubs and performing Beatles tunes at the annual Fest for Beatles Fans in East Rutherford, New Jersey.

“It beats picking up garbage, like I used to do," DiNizio told the Los Angeles Times in 1990, when talking about the band's success. "We’re self-employed—beyond the fact that we get to do what we love for living.”

The band's last studio album, 2011 (released that year), made visual and sonic references to 11, the band's successful 1989 album.

"In October 2010, the Smithereens reunited with producer Don Dixon to record our latest album, 2011," Smithereens lead guitarist Jim Babjak told Guitar World in 2012. "It had been 16 years since we last worked with him on our 1994 RCA album, A Date with the Smithereens. We traveled down to North Carolina and recorded the basic tracks for 2011 at Mitch Easter's Fidelitorium studio.

"I was told he had some vintage equipment I could use, so all I brought with me was my '52 reissue Telecaster. I played through something called a Carr Mercury amplifier. I'd never heard of it before, but I liked the sound, so I went with it for most of the basic tracks.

"All the overdubs were done in [singer/guitarist] Pat [DiNizio]'s living room in January at his New Jersey home. I would come in at night and play through an amp simulator that Don Dixon had made himself. Pat's mom was sleeping in the next room, so I only heard myself through headphones. Pat used a Robert Johnson Gibson acoustic on the rhythm track, and I used the Telecaster throughout.

"I'm proud to say that 'Sorry' was included in Little Steven's Underground Garage's Top 10 as the coolest song of the year for 2011."

Other recent Smithereens albums include two collections of Beatles covers—Meet the Smithereens! (2007) and B-Sides the Beatles (2008)—and a tribute to the Who's Tommy, 2009's The Smithereens Play Tommy.

Categories: General Interest

How to Play Like Dickey Betts of the Allman Brothers Band and Great Southern

Tue, 12/12/2017 - 13:15
May 19, 2014: Dickey Betts visits the Gibson factory in Nashville.

Forrest Richard “Dickey” Betts, founding member of the legendary Allman Brothers Band, successful solo artist and leader of his own ensemble, Great Southern, possesses one of the most distinct and influential guitar styles in the history of rock.

Combining elements of blues, rock, jazz, country, folk, bluegrass and world music, Dickey Betts forged his signature sound while laying the groundwork—along with Grateful Dead guitarist/leader Jerry Garcia—for the unique, progressive and forever mysterious genre known as “jam band” music.

In this edition of In Deep, we’ll take a look at a few of the scales Dickey relies on most when weaving his classic solos and melodic patterns.

One of the scales closely associated with the Dickey Betts sound is major pentatonic, the five-tone scale built from the first, second, third, fifth and sixth major scale degrees. FIGURE 1 illustrates G major pentatonic (G A B D E) as played in “open” position, using open strings. This pattern is used very often for soloing in bluegrass and country music, and Dickey learned about its use in this context as a young child, playing acoustic “string music” with his father and uncles.

A common technique when soloing with this scale is to use the minor, or “flatted,” third as a passing tone between the second and the major third. In the key of G, the minor third is Bb and the major third is B. FIGURE 2 presents a Betts-like bluegrass-style three-bar solo that features the use of the flatted-third passing tone as well as many hammer-ons, pull-offs and finger slides, used to yield a smooth, legato sound.

As is the case when studying any scale, it is essential to plot it out on every area of the fretboard and memorize it. FIGURE 3 illustrates G major pentatonic as played in second/third position, with a quick shift up to fifth position and then back to third position on the high E string. This pattern encompasses only fretted notes, so it is easily moved to other positions and keys up and down the fretboard.

One of the signature elements in Dickey’s soloing style is his use of small melodic “cells” that progress in either an ascending or descending manner throughout a phrase. FIGURE 4 shows a solo pattern based on the previously shown scale position of G major pentatonic and built from steadily descending 16th-note melodic cells on each beat. As you play through the figure, notice the subtle differences in the melodic shape of each four-note group as it falls on each successive beat. Classic examples of Betts utilizing this specific technique can be heard on perennial Allman Brothers favorites like “Jessica,” “Melissa” and “Ramblin’ Man.”

The major pentatonic scale lends itself well to performance over large spans of the fretboard, especially when incorporating hammer-ons and slides in order to shift quickly from one position to another. FIGURE 5 illustrates G major pentatonic in an extended pattern that starts in third position and ends in 12th. Play this pattern up and down utilizing the hammer-ons, pull-offs and legato finger slides as shown.

In FIGURE 6, I use this extended pattern to weave another three-bar solo-type phrase that moves smoothly from position to position. When forming the four-note melodic cells, one phrase can be connected to the next using a great variety of choices. At the end of bar 2 into bar 3, I decided to repeat the G root note on the downbeat of beat one in bar 3 to begin the subsequent phrase.

As alluded to in FIGURE 2, passing tones are very useful when building solo phrases from the major pentatonic scale. Along with using the minor third as a passing tone into the major third, the minor, or “flatted,” sixth works great as a connecting note between the fifth and major sixth. In FIGURE 7, I use both of these passing tones in different octaves in order to shape a more interesting melodic line. At the end of the phrase, on beat three of bar 2, I use an oblique bend—a bent note on one string coupled with an unbent note on a different string—to wrap up the phrase.

The sound of oblique bends is one closely associated with the pedal-steel guitar, and Dickey often mimics the pedal-steel sound by incorporating alternating oblique bends in his solo phrases. In FIGURE 8, an A note on the B string’s 10th fret is bent up one whole step, to B, and held while a series of alternating notes are played against it on the high E string. It will take practice to hold this bend firmly and in tune while switching between the different notes on the high E, and I suggest using the middle finger for the bend and the other three fingers for the notes fretted on the high E string.

Another scale that Betts uses to great effect is the six-note major hexatonic, which is nearly identical to the major pentatonic, the difference being that it additionally includes the perfect fourth (in the key of G, that would be C). As depicted in FIGURE 9, G major hexatonic is built from the notes G A B C D E. The major hexatonic can be used very effectively when harmonizing a major pentatonic line. FIGURE 10a illustrates a classic Betts-style major pentatonic melody, and FIGURE 10b harmonizes this melody a third higher, using notes from the G major hexatonic scale (G A B C D E).

Dickey’s best-known use of major hexatonic is most likely within his song, “Blue Sky,” and FIGURES 11a and 11b offer a G major hexatonic melody and a lower harmony line, thirds apart, the latter being based on G major pentatonic.

Categories: General Interest

Watch Rob Scallon Play a $1 Guitar

Tue, 12/12/2017 - 12:53

Most guitars come from trees. YouTube guitar fiend Rob Scallon's newest guitar, however, comes from Dollar Tree. Above, check out Scallon's latest video, in which he truly "rocks out on a budget"—using, of course, his tiny new $1 guitar (which looks more like a truly horrible ukulele). 

Perhaps the most impressive thing about the clip is the very satisfying backing track Scallon created—drums and all—to go with his "nightmare" $1-guitar performance.

"It is a nightmare to tune and a nightmare to play," says Scallon in the bonus making-of video below. "It's two pieces of plastic, one piece on bottom and one for the top—and I guess four pieces for the tuners. And then four strings, and the strings are all the same gauge, as you would imagine.

"I tuned the top string to an F# and brought the next one down a step to E, and then the one below that is an octave lower than F#."

For more Scallonisms, follow him on YouTube.

Categories: General Interest

How to Change the Speaker in a Guitar Amp

Tue, 12/12/2017 - 12:02

Sometimes you just need to make a change!

Sometimes you just need to make a change!

With that in mind, we asked our very own Paul Riario to create a video showing you how to change the speaker in your guitar amp.

In the video below, which is presented by Celestion and Guitar World, Riario installs a Celestion G12 V-Type 70-Watt speaker into a Blackstar combo.

You'll also notice Yngwie Malmsteen makes a brief appearance! Regardless, check out the clip and let us know what you think in the comments below or on Facebook.

For more information about Celestion speakers, check out

And if you like this sort of thing, be sure to check out Riario's first feature film, How to Build a Pedal Board," which features a brief appearance by Mick Mars. Enjoy!

Categories: General Interest

Meet the Electric Guitar Built Inside the Slammer

Tue, 12/12/2017 - 10:25

Norman Lockamy lovingly built the guitar while serving a 12-year sentence in Huntingdon State Prison in Pennsylvania starting in 1988.

Folsom Prison Blues…
Mama Tried…
30 Days in the Hole…
In the Jailhouse Now.

Whatever your favorite prison song is, we found the greatest electric guitar to play them. It was built by an inmate serving time at a Pennsylvania state prison.

This is “Lady,” an electric guitar built by an inmate within the walls of Huntingdon State Prison in Pennsylvania. Huntingdon is a 126-year-old jail that is so old and massive, it is known locally as "The Wall.”

Norman Lockamy lovingly built this guitar while serving a 12-year sentence in Huntingdon starting in 1988. It was completely crafted in the facility’s woodshop. Legend has it, Lockamy was allowed to purchase some parts while others were smuggled in to complete the guitar.

The guitar is a stunning example of prison folk art. The body and neck are of oak. The headstock is made of curly maple. The binding on the headstock is simply painted on and a hand-stamped brass truss rod cover has the word, “LADY.” The guitar is magnificent and plays like butter.

I wanted to learn more about these prison woodshops, so I called prison guard (and instrument builder) Al Hamilton, who said all wood used in the Pennsylvania state prison system comes from nearby Rockview Prison. Hamilton said this guitar is definitely Pennsylvania oak. The fretboard was stained black to simulate ebony, and a thin walnut strip runs up the cap of the carved double-cutaway body. There is a cream-colored binding around the body.

According to Hamilton, Huntingdon Prison’s woodshop is there primarily to keep things self-sufficient, with employees and prisoners making repairs to the structure along with furniture and any necessities. During down times, some prisoners are allowed to use resources to create birdhouses, wooden ships and other things to pass the time. Lockamy definitely made good use of his downtime on this guitar and his love can be seen in the details. The carve is unique, with a little more curve than a PRS SE. Even the frets are impeccable.

Taking a close look at this guitar, it’s obvious Lockamy wanted to sink some humbuckers into the body when he first designed it. It appears he could only get EMG Select single coils instead, which were too small for the pickup routes. Using prison ingenuity, Lockamy mounted the single coils in the center of the humbucker rings and covered the extra spaces with black construction paper. From a distance, you can’t even tell.

This is definitely a guitar made for a Les Paul lover, with its carved body and 24-inch scale. However, Lockamy went for a bolt-on neck design, perhaps for an easier build. The neck pocket is as tight as a vice. Even with the oak construction, the guitar weighs just over 8 pounds.

Lockamy was released from Huntingdon in 2000 and continued to play this guitar for the next 13 years. In 2013, he sold it to Guitars on George in York, Pennsylvania. By then, the guitar had a crack in the headstock (with a poor repair job) and a broken tuner. Guitar shop owner Jerry Duncan purchased the guitar simply on its story alone.

Thanks to Jerry Duncan at Guitars on George and Al Hamilton at Factory Throwouts Cigar Box Guitars for help with this article.

Shane Speal is the "King of the Cigar Box Guitar" and the creator of the modern cigar box guitar movement. Hear the music, see the instruments and read about his Cigar Box Guitar Museum at Speal's latest album,Holler! is on C.B. Gitty Records.

View the 9 images of this gallery on the original article
Categories: General Interest

Lucy Dacus Announces New Album, 'Historian,' Shares "Night Shift"

Tue, 12/12/2017 - 09:39

Lucy Dacus' No Burden, for awhile, was one of 2016's most criminally under-appreciated rock records. A moving, deeply personal collection of alternately comforting and volcanic songs, it immediately marked the Richmond native as one of the country's most brilliant up-and-coming songwriters.

Naturally though, Dacus' talent didn't go unrecognized for too long. She signed to Matador, played a Tiny Desk Concert at NPR's headquarters and even got shouted out by Senator (and then Vice-presidential candidate) Tim Kaine in an op-ed column highlighting—among other things—some of his favorite music.

Today, Dacus has announced her sophomore album, Historian. You can listen to its first single, the astounding "Night Shift," above.

"This is the album I needed to make," Dacus said of Historian—which is set for a March 2 release via Matador. "Everything after this is a bonus."

Dacus and her band recorded the album in Nashville last March, regrouping with No Burden producer Collin Pastore, and mixed it a few months later with John Congleton. You can preorder it here, and check out the tracklist below.

Historian tracklist

1. Night Shift

2. Addictions

3. The Shell

4. Nonbeliever

5. Yours & Mine

6. Body To Flame

7. Timefighter

8. Next Of Kin

9. Pillar Of Truth

10. Historians

Categories: General Interest

How to Tell If Your Guitar’s Neck Needs to be Adjusted

Tue, 12/12/2017 - 08:48

How to check if your guitar’s neck needs to be adjusted.

One of my recent columns dealt with some of the things that can go wrong with your guitar’s top nut. Big slots, thin strings; the perfect recipe for horrible buzzes and rattles.

I realize you’re eager to dig out some tools and learn how to repair your faulty nut. Me too. We’re almost there, but, just for a moment, let’s take it down a notch. Think baby steps.

Those nasty string buzzes and rattles can also be caused by nut slots that are cut too low. In extreme cases, the string(s) might actually be sitting on the first fret; or often a string just has to be close enough to the fret to make contact when it’s struck open.

Your gut reaction might be to grab a hammer to beat the offending top nut to death and glue a new one in there. But wait. Just like a nut with worn or over-wide slots, you can repair perilously low slots with super glue.

Again, as Dick Van Dyke would say, diagnosis is everything. Don’t approach your guitar with any tool until you know A) what the problem is, and B) what you need to do to fix it.

Last time I mentioned that you should always make sure that a guitar is tuned up to pitch—or to any alternate tuning that it may be set up to handle. If the tuning isn’t right, it can affect the neck.

If the slots on the nut appear too low—you’re getting the buzzes and rattles when you play open strings, etc.—it could be that the neck needs to be adjusted. If the guitar is tuned too low, the neck won’t have enough tension on it and could be over-bent.

In layman’s terms, this means the middle of the fingerboard is higher than the headstock and body end. This can cause the strings to buzz over the first five or so frets.

To check if your guitar’s neck needs to be adjusted, you have to eyeball the neck itself. Hold the guitar by the body (See PHOTO 1 in the gallery below), never the headstock. If you hold the guitar by the headstock (See PHOTO 2), you’ll put pressure on the neck, which, although slight, will give you a false reading of the neck’s "straightness."

Now look down the bass side of the fingerboard (See PHOTO 3). Try closing one eye. You’ll look like Popeye, but it will help you focus. You should be able to tell if the neck is straight, dipped or over-bent. Repeat the process with the treble side of the fingerboard.

Armed with this information, you can decide whether the neck needs to be adjusted. Speaking of which ...

Soon, I’ll show you how to finish adjusting the neck and begin the process of repairing the slots in a faulty top nut. For the latter job, you’ll need super glue, which doesn’t cost much, and nut files. You can buy a set of nut files of varying gauges (about $140) from the likes of Stewart-MacDonald; or buy a single file (about $25) if you’re tackling a particular slot.

I would recommend investing in a full set. That way you’ll be able to build a top nut from scratch one day ... one of the most satisfying guitar maintenance jobs there is.

That’s something I’ll talk you through very soon. See you next time.

Now look down the bass side of the fingerboard (pic 3). Try closing one eye. You’ll look like Popeye, but it will help you focus. You should be able to tell if the neck is straight, dipped or over-bent. Repeat the process with the treble side of the fingerboard.
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Categories: General Interest

Jack White Shares New Video, "Servings and Portions from My Boarding House Reach"

Tue, 12/12/2017 - 08:10

Jack White has long been working on a new solo album, his first since Lazaretto, one of our favorite albums of 2014.

Last month—at a Making Vinyl conference in his hometown of Detroit—he said the album was "practically done" and that it was "a bizarre one." Now, it seems, we have been given our first taste of it, with his release of a new video called "Servings and Portions from My Boarding House Reach."

It's unclear whether the audio—a wildly experimental sound collage—is a mish-mash of new songs, or itself a new song. Regardless, you can experience it for yourself above.

Categories: General Interest

How to Slide Your Way to Fretboard Fluidity

Tue, 12/12/2017 - 07:36

This kind of thing reminds me of a Johnny "Guitar" Watson move. It also helps get fingers accustomed to sliding very quickly.

In this lesson, I'll lay out a few tools I use in crafting guitar melodies and solos to make the instrument feel more fluid.

The first exercise is a way to double a note on the neighboring B and G strings. This kind of thing reminds me of a Johnny "Guitar" Watson move. It also helps get fingers accustomed to sliding very quickly.

And this kind of sliding technique might help you see connections on the fretboard while giving you an alternative to standard blues solos.

Start with your index finger on the third fret of the B string and slide your ring finger from the fifth to seventh fret of the G string. See below:


After you are comfortable with the above, you can slide back down from the seventh to fifth fret on the B string.


Here’s another one you can try just picking three notes. For this, we’ll use three notes on the B string at the 12th, ninth and seventh frets, and focus on going between them smoothly. Hopefully, this exercise will get your fingers more fluid and get you more comfortable sliding between notes without breaking them up, sort of like using a slide without actually wearing a slide. Start with your ring finger on the 12th fret of the B string, then slide down to the ninth fret, and then pull off onto the seventh fret.


You want to get comfortable doing this in a way where you don’t have a pronounced attack between the notes on the ninth and seventh fret. You want to do the pull off very softly, so it feels like the note is sliding off. I do that by letting go of the string rather than emphasizing the pull-off. From there you can just slide back up to the ninth fret by doing the following:


Again, stuff like this can help you conceptualize the guitar in a different way, where everything isn’t linked in with your right/plucking hand. You could combine this exercise with the one we did above, to get something like the following:


A lot of what we talk about in this video (below) so far involves sliding with one or two fingers on one or two strings to give rubbery, blending effects to your guitar. These are good ways to get your fingers comfortable with slide-type techniques before you pick up a slide, if you’re hesitant to pick up a slide for any reason. And these are good ways to get your wrist comfortable with stopping at points along the way so you can get a lot of notes in a single movement with your fretting hand.

Of course, you also can do these kinds of things with a slide on your fretting hand. Stepping back to the first exercise we talked about, you can do this same kind of thing with a slide, which has an interesting effect. And it can be a technique to get your fretting hand comfortable with a basic slide move. If you practice this, you can develop more fluidity going between two frets and two strings using a slide.




As for slide technique, I generally use the slide on my ring finger of my left hand, and I use the fingers of my right hand to pluck the notes.

As for the fretting hand, I like to play the slide without muting fingers behind it and with the slide not quite pressed down all the way. This can help you develop a frail sound with less sustain that sounds like a singer with a raspy voice or a sore throat, which I think is more interesting than a straight-ahead slide sound. Hopefully, these exercises will give you some stuff to think about—specifically focusing on what’s coming before and what’s coming after the notes you play, not just on the note you are playing. If you focus on these aspects of your compositional approach and playing, hopefully they can help you inject more depth into your notes and what’s behind them.

Steve is now offering online lessons to those who are interested in learning more about his guitar style. His schedule is somewhat irregular due to touring, but you can contact him and set up a time right here.

Steve Marion, also known as "Delicate Steve," is a guitarist from New Jersey. He has released two albums on David Byrne's Luaka Bop label, collaborated with Paul Simon, Ra Ra Riot, Dirty Projectors and Built to Spill (among others) and is a member of Saint Rich (Merge Records). Delicate Steve’s first album, Wondervisions, was named a New York Times Critic's Choice. He has been named one of the "30 Best Guitarists Under 30" by Red Bull Music. Critics have said, “Marion is one of those rare guitarists whose instrument sings in place of vocals...crystalline and George Harrison’s guitar reanimated...” (Pitchfork), and that he is “a true guitar hero" (Kevin Parker of Tame Impala).

Categories: General Interest

Alice in Chains Announce North American Tour

Tue, 12/12/2017 - 07:08

Alice in Chains are hitting the road next year.

The band announced the first dozen dates of a longer North American tour that is set to begin next April. You can check out their current itinerary below.

The group has also indicated that their new album is imminent, with bassist Mike Inez recently telling the Let There Be Talk podcast that  "We're going back home to do a record, really. The last two [albums] were [recorded] in L.A., and they were cool. I just feel in 2017, it's time for Alice in Chains to go back to Seattle—drink that water, breathe that air. My Heart family's up there."

"There's just such a history," he continued. "Every street corner for us is a memory; crazy shit happened or some beautiful stuff. Seattle's a really special place, especially this time of year. It's the best."

For ticket information and more, stop by the band's website.

Alice in Chains: 2018 Tour Dates

April 28 – Boston, MA @ House of Blues
April 30 – Syracuse, NY @ Landmark Theatre
May 1 – Toronto, ON @ Massey Hall
May 3 – Washington DC @ Anthem
May 4 – Charlotte, NC @ Carolina Rebellion
May 7 – New York, NY @ Hammerstein Ballroom
May 10 – Atlanta, GA @ Coca-Cola Roxy
May 13 – Somerset, WI @ Northern Invasion
May 15 – Chicago, IL @ Riviera Theatre
May 16 – South Bend, IN @ Morris Performing Arts Center
May 18 – Columbus, OH @ Rock on the Range
May 19 – Philadelphia, PA @ WMMR BBQ

Categories: General Interest

How to Connect Chords for More Musical Rhythm Playing

Tue, 12/12/2017 - 06:35

If your rhythm work consists only of chords, you’re missing out on a lot of color and character that you could be including.

If your rhythm work consists only of chords, you’re missing out on a lot of color and character that you could be including.

While there are times when strumming alone is all that a song requires, there are also many songs that benefit from a little musical “filigree” that can add accents and melody to your strumming and help tie chords together when you move from one to the next.

In this video, guitar instructor Sean Daniel demonstrates how you can use scales to connect chords, by drawing on the notes in the scale that are common to the chords.

“When you have any kind of chord—we’ll take a really easy one, a C chord to an A minor chord—there is a note in the scale that you’re in that can connect those two,” Sean explains. “And it can really help make your playing sound a little bit different, more exciting and give you more options on things to do.” 

Sean goes on to explain the technique and demonstrate it over a variety of chord changes.

Take a look, and as always we encourage you to check out his YouTube channel for more of his excellent guitar tutorials.

Categories: General Interest