Gila Eban, luthier, 1990
The last couple of days I have been leafing through the James Krenov trilogy, The Cabinetmaker's Notebook, The Fine Art of Cabinetmaking and The Impractical Cabinetmaker. As a classical guitar maker, I really don't need these books anymore, as I have said before, I make guitars, not cabinets.
Squares, rectangles and triangles don't interest me, shapes that are based on the human body do.
I keep Mr. Krenov's books because of all the little bits of advice on how to enjoy life and to see the world around you that he hid and tucked away in paragraphs about dovetails, sharpening, woodworking education, etc.
I am not a big fan of his writing style, a little too verbose and perhaps too sentimental, so these days I scan the pages looking for words that are familiar and excite me like spokeshave, friend, and curved edges and then I read.
Yesterday, as I was thumbing through The Impractical Cabinetmaker, which I first read way back in 1992, I glanced at a paragraph at the end of "Woodcraft Today", and remembered that the last few lines in that paragraph gave me much hope and encouragement back in then, which I took very much to heart.
This is what Mr. Krenov wrote:
The only good advice worth offering is: Keep your goal in mind. Get some fine wood in little bits and pieces, but get it. Put it away to dry properly. Improve the heating in the shop. And all the while think about finding or making better tools. You'll need those fine tools to do that real work. So when the time comes and you get that chance you will be ready.
This then made me think that I should explore The Impractical Cabinetmaker chapter by chapter from the point of view of a guitar maker and post about it. I sallied forth and re-read the first three pages of that chapter because I wanted to read his definition of an "impractical" craftsman.
He is the craftsman for whom an atmosphere of much-to-sell is a hindrance to doing his best always--and living accordingly. He is an idealist who wants to survive to have the chance to work with wood, but not at the price of having woodworking become something less than he hoped it would be.
Hmm. I guess that makes me an impractical guitar maker.
I say I am an impractical guitar maker because I enjoy making guitars and then selling them to people who have been affected (look it up if you don't know what it means) by the sound and playability of my guitars. That is far more rewarding that doing market research to figure out how to tap into and make money from the latest fads of the classical guitar world.
The latest fad is the same it has been since I started studying the classical guitar in 1974, it is to buy the same guitar that the hottest classical guitarist de jour is playing. In the 1970's-80's you had to play a Ramirez No.1A guitar because Segovia, Parkening, Boyd and Niedt all played them. Today you need to play a "double top" guitar by Dammann, Price, Smallman, Connor or someone else who has succeeded in making a guitar sound like a piano, because current greats likes Russell and Barrueco, etc., all play double top guitars.
Perfect practice makes you a better player.
Owning a really good guitar that you love will make you practice more, but popular makers don't always necessarily make the best guitar for you.
The are no jigs or outside moulds in my shop to create "the perfect shape" of a classical guitar, which some makers insist upon to make them "competitive" in today's global classical guitar market. I use a solera, a dished out work board to hold the top and neck while I attach the sides and back. A solera lends itself to asymmetry, which as I have discovered helps give the guitar a voice, a great voice that affects the human psyche.
Does this make me a better guitar maker? Not using power tools or jigs or moulds?
Maybe it doesn't, but as Mr. Krenov said, keep your goal in mind.
My goal is beauty.
The beautiful sound of a guitar that carries throughout the cosmos.
What kind of a player are you: straight into the amp, or do you build your sound through stompboxes or effects units? I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately because the maturity of digital modelling means there’s a third alternative: “It’s all in my Kemper/Helix/Axe-Fx/etc” so sometimes it’s just an amp, sometimes it’s a bunch of effects, and sometimes it changes from verse to chorus.”
Me, I’m typically a straight-into-the-amp player. Generally I follow the EVH approach of using the guitar’s volume pot to adjust the amp gain, and most of the time I’m on the dirty channel whether I’m playing distorted or clean. I still love my pedals though and I’ve been collecting them since I was 13 years old so I’ve amassed a few favourites in that time. The Z.Vex Fuzz Factory, the Jim Dunlop Q Zone and Buddy Guy Cry Baby, the DOD FX25 Envelope Filter, the BOSS OC-2 Octave. And then there are my beloved Seymour Duncan pedals (As many of you no doubt know, I’m SD’s social media guy and I’m pretty loyal): the Forza and 805 Overdrive are my go-to drives even though I have …way too damn many overdriven to choose from. The Catalina Dynamic Chorus is the only chorus I’ll ever use now. And the Pickup Booster is so simple yet so classic. Can’t wait to get my hands and feet on an Andromeda Dynamic Delay too.
I guess the dream setup for me personally would be something like, say, a BOSS ES-8 so I can dip effects in and out while still effectively getting my main tone from the guitar and amp. The way I approach effects is very similar to what I recall Chris DeGarmo saying in a Guitar World interview back in the 90s: I see my tone as a beam of light, and effects as a prism to shine it through. I always want to keep the spirit of the sound intact, and I know that Marshall so well in terms of how it responds to my playing, what it can do, and what it needs a bit of extra help with.
One of the things that excites me about the Andromeda is that it’s MIDI-capable, and so is the ES-8, so if I get the two I’ll be able to build Andromeda preset changes into my patches. Kick in a Pickup Booster or 805 with some ducking delay for a hotter lead sound, switch on a nice atmospheric reverse delay for my rolled-back-volume cleanish rhythms, hit the OC-2 and a fat analog delay sound for big riffs of doom …actually I’m thinking of using a Seymour Duncan PowerStage 700 power amp to power a pair of wet speakers so I can have a wet/dry/wet setup for delays, chorus, reverb and pitch shifting, still taking advantage of my ‘straight-into-the-amp’ approach on the gain side of things while also getting the most out of my pedals for the ambient and really ear-catching stuff.
What about you? How do you approach your use of effects?
Angel Vivaldi and Andy James, who are about to head to Europe for the “Wave of Synergy” tour, have shared a new music video for the track of the same name.
James Krenov, The Fine Art of Cabinetmaking, 1977
Bluebird skies this morning in this part of Colorado, but no black bears, moose or elk hanging out around our place, only wildflowers are making any noise.
I did complete a project today, a blending board for my wife. I posted that on Instagram, you can check it out there, but what I want to share this afternoon was an attempt to do some work in my studio.
Last year I purchased a wonderful piece of curly Claro walnut from Northwest Timber which I re-sawed into guitar back and sides. The pieces weren't big enough to make a full size classical guitar so I decided to use the wood to make a close copy of a guitar by Antonio de Torres, his SE117 guitar.
It is a three piece back with maple fillets.
This is a lightly bear clawed Sitka spruce top set that I bought from Alaska Specialty Woods about six years ago that is a great match for the Claro walnut.
Torres SE117 guitar is a very small guitar by today's standards, it is even smaller than a so called "parlor" guitar. The string length for the original guitar is just under 24 inches, a standard classical has a 25 5/8" string length, and the body length is just under 18 inches, if I remember correctly. Compare that to a modern classical guitar length which hovers at or above 19 inches!
What this really means to me is that I need to make a custom rosette for this guitar, the sound hole is smaller than a standard classical guitar. The pre-made rosettes that I buy from Luthiers Mercantile are made for the larger guitars, they are too big for this tiny guitar.
I pulled out black, white, red and green veneer to see which colors would go best...
...with this redwood burl.
I have had this burl for about seven years and I haven't done anything with it yet. Now is as good of time as any.
The rosette should be stunning with this Sitka spruce. I need to come up with a good color scheme, something like a cherry or walnut fillet to start a WBWBW, then a WBW Walnut or Cherry WBW and then the burl with the same WB combos to complete the mirror.
Of course, since I pulled out all the veneers and thin pieces of cherry and walnut, along with the detritus left over from thinning down the walnut back, I can't really see the top of my workbench. Maybe I will clean it up tomorrow afternoon!
As talked about in my posts about my Squier Bullet Strat project, I wanted to find some decent budget locking tuners that functioned favourably when compared to the major players. After a bit of research I decided to try some Jinho Locking Tuners. Jinho are used as OEM suppliers for several guitar manufacturers, and the general consensus was that they were solid units. I found some for sale on eBay and got to installing them on the Bullet Strat.
On first inspection, the Jinho locking tuners look very similar to Gotoh or other similar modern design tuner. The turning ratio is 19:1, which is better than some of the established players. The Jinho locking tuner uses a standard locking thumb wheel design, which is also found on many other locking tuners. The tuning post diameter is 10mm, consistent with most other modern designs too.
The Bullet Strat has been upgraded with a Graphtech Black TUSQ XL nut, roller string trees, and a Wilkinson vintage style Strat bridge, loaded with Hantug Custom Guitars brass modern strat style saddles.
Stringing up the guitar, the locking thumb wheels were nice and smooth to operate, and the 19:1 turning ratio made fine tuning each string a breeze. Once the strings were stretched I started testing out how well the guitar stayed in tune. Non-locking strat style bridges aren’t always the greatest with regards to tuning stability, and with the stock tuners, the Bullet Strat didn’t always hold it’s tune too well. With the Jinho locking tuners the tuning held up well with some heavy string bending, and things were still pretty solid after some dive-bombs and heavy vibrato with the whammy bar. I also tested the guitar on stage with my band, and I barely had to adjust tuning throughout the half-hour set of combined rhythm and lead playing.
Compared to my number one Strat, which is loaded with Gotoh Magnum-lock tuners, and is similarly equipped with a Graphtech Black TUSQ XL nut, and Hantug Custom Guitars vintage style strat bridge, the Jinho locking tuners performed just as well in it’s duties, which is admirable for a set of tuners that cost around half the price of the established brand. The only real downside to the Jinho tuners is that the plating doesn’t appear to be quite as robust as the Gotoh’s, for example. The thumb wheels were bumped a couple of times during installation, and the finish was chipped. Not a major issue, and considering how well the actual performance of the tuners were, it’s definitely not a show-stopper.
Overall, the Jinho JN-07SP Locking Tuners proved to be an excellent upgrade for the budget conscious player. In fact, they were an excellent upgrade even without budget restrictions in place. The excellent turning ratio and solid locking mechanism make them the perfect choice for a guitar with a non-locking tremolo equipped guitar, whether you want to go nuts with the whammy bar or just apply some subtle vibrato. It understandable why a number of manufacturers are using these as OEM parts on their mid-range guitars. If you have a guitar that requires some help on the tuning front, and have a limited budget, then definitely have a look at these tuners.
|Glen Campell on TV in 1965|
The first time I saw Glen Campbell play was on a television show called Shindig It aired from 1964 to 1966, and it featured some top musical acts of that era.
|Some of the Shindogs|
The “house” band on the show were called The Shindogs and comprised of some of Los Angeles’ best session players, whose players alternated from time to time.
The band members included Glen Campbell, Joey Cooper, Chuck Blackwell (drums), Billy Preston, James Burton, Delaney Bramlett, Larry Knechtel (on bass), Leon Russell (on piano) Glen D. Hardin and bass player Ray Pohlman.
|Glen Campbell rehearsing on Shindig!|
|1960 Teisco T-60|
The metal pickguard covered much of the body. On it was mounted a volume and tone control and a 3 position rotary switch that chose the pickup. It would be a few years before Teisco (the Tokyo Electric Instrument Company) began flooding the US and European market with cheap electric guitars.
|Campbell with The Wrecking Crew|
Glen was born into a family of 12 children, His father was a sharecropper. He grew up and lived in a town near Delight, Arkansas. He received his first guitar at age 4 and took to it immediately. Since the neck was not adjustable and the strings were high, his father fashioned a capo out of an old inner tube. His extended family included several musicians. He was fond of reminding people that he was the seventh son of a seventh son.
|Glen on a Tele with his uncles band|
At age 16 Glen dropped out of high school to pursue a career as a guitar player. His first job was with his uncle Eugene aka Boo, at a nightclub gig in Casper, Wyoming.
In 1956 they traveled to Albuquerque, New Mexico in a group called The Sandia Mountain Boys, which was led by another Uncle named Dick Bills.
Within a couple of years, Glen Campbell had formed his own band called The Western Wranglers. By 1960 he moved to Los Angeles California and had a daytime job working for the American Music publishing company, writing songs and performing demo recordings. Word got out about this talented singer/guitar player and he was in demand.
|Glen Campbell in The Champs|
Around this same time, Glen Campbell was hired by several session producers to play guitar with other anonymous back up musicians that later were came to be known as The Wrecking Crew.
|Glen Campbell in the Wrecking Crew|
He aslo backed up Merle Haggard, Jan and Dean (Surf City), The Beach Boys (he played acoustic guitar on Be True to Your School, Pet Sounds and other recordings), Ronnie Dove, and Frank Sinatra. Phil Spector sought him out to play on some of his hits recorded by the Righteous Brothers.
|Elvis, Priscilla, Campbell|
Glen Campbell played on recordings for Elvis, striking up a friendship with The King. Both men came from the same humble Southern roots. Glen played guitar on many demo recordings for Elvis and on the album Viva Las Vega.
|Campbell goes solo|
That same year Campbell formed another band called the Gee Cees with some of the members of The Champs and played at local clubs.
By 1962 he inked a deal with Capitol Records and had a minor hit with the song “Too Late to Worry, Too Blue to Cry”.
He continued to record and write music. However his forte at the time was the session work. He was featured on an incredible 586 recorded songs, despite the fact that he could not read music. He would have someone at the session sing or hum the part and he immediately played it “by ear”.
Not only did he play guitar, but doubled on banjo, mandolin, and bass guitar.
It was in 1964 that Campbell got into television, as a regular on several shows including a California series called Star Route, and the Shindig!, and another California series called Hollywood Jamboree.
|Glen Campbell as a Beach Boy|
In 1965 Glen Campbell finally had a a solo hit record with a song called Universal Soldier. This anti-war song (the US and allies were in the midst of the Vietnam War) was written by Buffy Sainte-Marie.
The following year, Campbell was hired again by The Beach Boys as a session player for their Pet Sounds album.
|Rick Nelson and Glen Campbell|
Later that year he was hired to play bass guitar by Ricky Nelson on a tour of the Far East.
|Campbell with Epiphone Zephyr|
It was in 1966 Glen finally struck gold when he was paired with songwriters Jimmy Webb and John Hartford.
He shared a friendship with both men throughout his life time.
|Glen Campbell & John Hartford|
During the session, Campbell shouted directions to the players. He left the rough cut for De Lory to hear.
The next day De Lory listened to it and fell in love with the song and Glen's recording. De Lory immediately went to work on it, removing Glens directions to the musicians, but keeping Glens vocal and the music. Without telling Campbell, De Lory went ahead and released the song. It went on to become a mega hit for Campbell and won a Grammy for John Hartford.
In 1968 Campbell followed up with the song Wichita Lineman, which was penned and orchestrated by Jimmy Webb. Webb says he wrote the song as he drove through Washita County in southern Oklahoma.
The road was straight and seemed to go past endless lines of telephone poles. He saw a solitary lineman that was strapped at the top of one of these poles, doing repair work, causing Webb to think about the loneliness of this job. The phrase “singing in the wires” came from the vibrations induced by the electric current flowing through the lines.
|Jimmy Webb and Glen Campbell|
Campbell's recording was also produced by Al De Lory and charted for 15 weeks in 1968. It is listed among Rolling Stone Magazine’s list of 500 greatest songs of all time.
|By The Time I Get To Phoenix|
Webb imagined the soldier thoughts and put them into these lyrics; "Wonder if she could forget me, I'd go home if they would let me, Put down this gun, and go to Galveston.”
In 1968 Glen Campbell won 10 Grammys, three Hall of Fame Awards, a lifetime acheivement award, and the Country Music Association's Entertainer of the Year award.
|Galveston - 45 rpm single|
|Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour|
This show debuted in 1969 and ran through 1972.
|Jerry Reed and Campbell|
This show introduced a lot of people to Country Music that would not have listened to it otherwise.
Campbell also turned his talent to the movies, making appearances in one flick called Norwood, and the John Wayne movie, True Grit.
|Allen Toussaint Southern Nights|
He called the song, "Southern Nights".
Toussaint’s version was down tempo, thoughtful, and the lyrics are just plain beautiful. Songwriter Jimmy Webb loved the song and brought it to Glens attention. With the help of his friend, Jerry Reed, they came up with the guitar introduction that featured the treble strings playing a descending two bar passage, while at the same the bass strings played an ascending passage. Glen’s version was uptempo, and cheerful, and was another hit for him.
Later in his career Campbell continued to tour, had three failed marriages, a fling with Country Music singer Tonya Tucker and had battled substance abuse. Most of this occurred during the mid 1970’s,
|Glen and Kim Campbell|
Glen finally got the help, discipline, and understanding he needed when, in 1982, he remarried for the last time to his wife Kim.
|Campbell recording with |
The Stone Temple Pilots
During the 1990’s he became a successful performer, owning his own Goodtime Theater In Branson, Missouri. He still toured the world giving concerts, sometimes with symphony orchestras.
In 2008 Glen decided to record a project called Meet Glen Campbell. This featured some songs by Green Day, The Foo Fighters, Dave Grohl, Tom Petty, Jackson Browne, John Lennon, Lou Reed and others. Backing him on this recording were Wendy Melvoin, who played keyboards for Prince, Tom Petty, Rick Neilsen, and Danzig guitarist Todd Youth. In addition to others that sang background, were Campbell's own children.
|Glen and Ashley Campbell |
The Last Tour
The tour was filmed and the results showed his regression as the disease ravaged his brain. Though he could no longer remember lyrics to songs, he did not forget how to play guitar.
Sadly, he went into the studio and recorded one last song called I’m Not Going To Miss You. The recording was backed by several of his friends that played in The Wrecking Crew.
Campbell passed away last week on August 8th when the disease robbed his brain of the ability to control his central nervous system. Throughout his career Glen Campbell used a vast collection of guitars. One of the first guitar companies to have a relationship with Campbell was The Ovation guitar.
|Ovations similar to those that Glen played|
Ovation guitars were a fairly new comer to the guitar market, having its start around 1965, with the development of an acoustic guitar with a round fiberglass back. Glen Campbell like the rugged concept of the guitar.
He encouraged the company to produce a model with an acoustic pick up, since he did not like to have a microphone stand in front of him.
He also did not think the guitar was loud enough. CEO Charles Kaman took his advice and obliged by having his engineers develop one of the best under-saddle acoustic transducer/pickups that was ever designed.
In a meeting with Campbell, Mr. Kaman gave him one of the first Ovation acoustic-electric Balladeer guitars. Campbell used this guitar, and many other Ovation guitars on his Goodtime Hour televsion show.
|Campbell with |
Ovation Glen Campbell model
|Campbell playing an Ovation Toronado|
He also several Ovation electric models, including a Tornado electric guitar.
|Ovation Viper models|
Campbell played an Ovation six and 12 string Viper models in a blue-burst finish that were referred to as Bluebirds.
|Campbell with Ovation Breadwinner|
Campbell continued to play Ovation guitars at his concerts throughout his career.
|Campbell with Mosrite |
Semie Moseley of Mosrite took over the Dobro operation from the Dopyera brothers in 1966. Their factory was based in Gardena California.
The first instruments that Mosrite made were assembled from original Dopyera parts in the Gardena factory.
|Campbell with Mosrite Californian Dobro|
He owned two other Mosrite electric guitars and one rare Mosrite acoustic guitar.
|1966 Mosrite Celebrity|
One was a Mosrite Celebrity model. The body was made by Framus, the neck, pickups, and electronics were by Moseley. The vibrato was made by Framus.
The other was a 1966 Mosrite Plainsman Dobro electric guitar. This one was made by Dobro. Semie Moseley added the pickup, electronics, and added a Mosrite neck.
|Campbell with Mosrite Seranader|
|Campbell with a Fender Bass VI|
Campbell played a Fender Bass VI on Wichita Lineman, and Galveston.
|Campbell with a Stratocaster|
You can see from one picture towards the top of the page, Glen started out playing a Telecaster that was equipped with a Bigsby B5.
This Tele had the Bigbsy as an add-on, longer before Fender offered this option in 1967. The photo is from around 1956. He is playing at a store that sells house paint.
|Glen with a G&L Comanche|
Glenn also owned and played a G&L Comanche, which was a strat-style guitar that had split pickups.
|Campbell with his guitars|
Glen owned several Martin guitars, one was a Martin N-20 classical model.
|Campbell with Martin|
The other was probably a Martin D-28, since the sides appear to be rosewood.
|Campbell's Ovation Vipers |
Glen loved 12 string guitars. He played his is can be often seen playing his Ovation Viper 12 string.
|Campbell with Hamer 12 string|
Later played a beautiful Hamer 12 string electric guitar that he used in concert when he played Southern Nights.
Glen was an amazing guitarist and vocalist. In fact he is one of the most versatile guitarists ever.
As a session player he played on many of the Beach Boys songs, and also played on Frank Sinatra's classic recording of Strangers In The Night. He loved his family, and made a life with his music that many of us can only dream about.
He remained an incredibly talented man right up to the end. He will be missed.
Click on the links under the photos for sources. Click on the links in the text for more information.
©UniqueGuitar Blog (text only)
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Nothing original here, just an old trick that makes quick, quiet work of squaring and evenly thicknessing wood.
A few drops of super glue temporarily hold two wood runners to the bottom of a plane, in this case a Stanley #5 1/4 for those who care about such details. The plane can not take off wood below the height of the runners so repeatedly planing wood to the same height becomes easy. The top and bottom of the workpiece will also be parallel.
In the photograph I’m planing spruce brace stock for dulcimer backs. The rough brace sits on my planing beam; a flat and straight beam of oak with a bench stop at one end. I use this planing beam when truing and jointing fretboards and fingerboards, thinning bindings, and brace stock. I also use the planing beam as a caul when gluing fingerboards to fretboards.
Yes, it is a fascinating life I lead.
Starting at the top of heap, we had a fantastic time hearing the Taj Mo Band at the Cape Cod Melody Tent last Friday evening. What a great combination of talents! Keb’ Mo and Taj Mahal may be the best representatives we have of traditional blues. Backed by an ace band that included Taj’s two daughters on backing vocals, plus horns, keys, a great bass player and a drummer that was an absolute machine of rhythmic goodness they put on a show that was, for lack of better description, a celebration of the blues. We had second row seats and watching the grins that never left their faces was almost as much fun as the music itself. I heartily recommend their recent album too. Unfortunately, the years are catching up with Taj and he needed help getting on and off the stage but the years have in no way diminished his singing or his guitar chops. Keb’ demonstrated his prowess on resonator guitar and also electric lead, and oh man, that voice is pure smoke and honey. See them on this tour if you can, judging by Taj’s health it may be your only chance.
Then there is the local music scene. I’m pleased to report that there are more places than ever to hear live music on Cape Cod, which is a wonderful trend compared to a few years ago when DJ’s and karaoke seemed to rule the world. I’m seeing signs advertising live music at restaurants and bars that never have used live music before. My only conclusion must be that owners of those places have noticed the big crowds at places that have always had live music and they want in on the action. Plus there are more outdoor concerts in various towns than ever. Yeah!
Of course, the overall quality is variable, which is to be expected. I was reminded of the age-old truism of putting a back together that many groups seem to ignore: no matter how hot a player you are, no matter how well your group knows the tunes….. someone has to sing! I heard a local group in town at the Friday evening free concert series and they had an impressive line-up that included bass, drums, congas, sax, keys, and two (!) guitars. But unfortunately the vocals seemed to be an afterthought and weren’t very good, to say the least. I have to believe that with the popularity of TV shows like The Voice and karaoke sessions in many places there must be a good singer out there who could front this band. But so it has always been. Any group playing most any style of popular music has to understand that the audience for the most part doesn’t really care if you can play a Santana solo note-for-note, they want to hear good vocals.
On the other hand, I went to a GREAT afternoon of bluegrass at a local venue called Highfield Hall, a restored mansion with beautiful grounds. It was a free event, held each summer. There were two bands and both were excellent but my favorite was a bunch of young guys calling themselves The Lonely Heartstring Band. They played traditional bluegrass of course but also plenty of original material in the bluegrass style. All were superb players and their vocals were top notch. It turns out they were the National Bluegrass Association “Up and Coming Band of the Year” last year. I spoke to the young guitarist/leader at length between sets and he was very friendly and modest. They sold out Passim in Cambridge the next night, probably the most prestigious gig in the acoustic scene in New England. I bought their CD and have been listening to it a lot. Just a great band – search their name and check them out on their site. And see them if you can!
This was a truly wonderful family event held under a perfect summer sky with young and old enjoying themselves thoroughly. There were upwards of 500 in attendance and the only negative was the guy who is in charge of booking music at Highfield who featured himself the master of ceremonies and seemed to want to keep the attention of the audience on himself as much as on the music. I kind of felt like telling him to just shut up and sit down and I’ll bet I wasn’t the only one! Oh well, ego is a tough thing to battle I guess.
A couple of local bands I know are doing better than ever, gig-wise. Again, this is great to see. They have the right attitude: have fun, make good music with solid vocals, don’t fall into the trap of having aspirations of glory (unless they were willing to travel, which they are not). Just play it right, play it tight, and keep a smile on your face. The audience WILL respond.
Last night I went over to a popular bar/restaurant to hear one of them but unfortunately the online listing of entertainment at this place was not accurate and instead there was a young woman playing outside under a small tent. While she was enthusiastic, and in fairness I didn’t listen too long, I do wish women who bang away on guitars would just retire “Me & Bobby McGee.” Most guys I know who do singles have finally retired “Margaritville.” Is it too much to ask?! Sorry, cranky Gene comment there, ha!
Finally, I had a wonderful conversation with a guy who I introduced to guitar 40 (gulp!) years ago. Haven’t connected with him in decades. He was at that time my best guitar student and he has made a very fine career in music over the years, playing in rock bands, general business and other bands and most recently has begun playing in a couple of bluegrass bands, returning to his acoustic “roots.” He also has taught guitar right along and for the last few years has been a guitar and bass teacher at an exclusive and expensive private school. We reminisced about the old days and told war stories. I hope to hear him soon and even do some playing with him. I’m hoping to trade some bluegrass tunes for his jazz chops!
Peace & good music,
I don’t know a single bass player who has plugged into a wah wah pedal and not immediately played Geezer Butler’s N.I.B. intro licks. Geezer knows what he wants from his wah sound, and now he’s got it in the form of his new signature Jim Dunlop Cry Baby. It has several very stageworthy features: you bring it out of bypass simply by putting your foot on the pedal; you can set the effect ring-out time (ie: how long the effect remains engaged after you return the pedal to its heel position); and there’s an internal Q control. Rotate it clockwise for a narrower frequency range and more pronounced wah effect or counterclockwise for a wider frequency range and subtler wah effect.
Ok, so if you follow me on Twitter you know I’m a huge Star Wars fan. Even the prequels. Yeah. Come at me if you wanna fight about it. Anyway, something just hit me while listening to a (subscriber-only) Steele Wars podcast where fans called in with their ideas about the possible Obi Wan movie or other non-saga Star Wars movies:
STAR WARS IS DEF LEPPARD.
Def Leppard is a huge band, right? There was a time where they were selling tens of millions of albums (Hysteria alone has sold over 25 million copies). They have die-hard fans the world over who know every song from every album. Every B-Side. Every little piece of trivia. They collect pressings from different countries, etc etc etc. These are your real hardcores.
Now, here’s the thing. Go to a Def Leppard concert (seriously, do it. They’re awesome) and you’ll see 15,000 people in the audience. Among them are probably, like, 500 people who know every single song. Then there are another 14,500 people who only know the big hits. If the band was to drop in some deep cuts to please the hardcores, you have 14,500 people going “Uh… what’s this? Let’s go get a beer.” Throw in enough of those songs to satisfy the super-intense fans – the B-side collectors – and guess what: the reviews will suck. “Oh they played a bunch of stuff I didn’t even know. What a waste of money. Nobody ever heard Lady Strange on the radio at work.” And next time Def Leppard comes to town they’ll be playing to just those 500 people – but they won’t because the machine is too big. They’re a business with employees. They have staff to pay. They have ongoing costs to cover which the touring cycle takes care of, and you can’t just take a business like that and say “Y’know what? Let’s make 95% less money on the road this year!”
What I’m saying is, some of us may really really want a Star Wars movie that fills in some piece of obscure timeline trivia or would just be, like, totally cool, but instead we’re gonna keep getting Pour Some Sugar On Me.
They’re saving Ded Flatbird for the novels and comics.