USDA Plants Database, Engelmann Spruce
I apologize for not having posted anything on this blog for a while, as all of you know life can get in the way of doing things.
The New Mexico Guitar Festival is next month, June 15-17, and I will be attending as a vendor.
Much of my time these last few weeks has been spent finishing the two guitars that I want to take to the Vendors Expo at the festival: this 1961 Hernandez y Aguado style guitar, with an Engelmann spruce top and ziricote back and sides and a 1963 Hernandez y Aguado style guitar that is made entire from locally sourced wood. I'll post about that guitar in the future.
Tomorrow, I will level and re-crown the frets on this spruce/ziricote guitar, grind down the nut and saddle, attach strings and set up the playing action. I can't wait to hear this guitar!
Here are some photos documenting the building of the spruce/ziricote guitar.
From left to right: spruce/ziricote, redwood/black walnut, redwood/Indian rosewood.
Here's a video of Stephanie Jones, a wonderful young guitarist from Australia. Click here to watch videos of Ms. Jones playing all five of William Walton's Bagatelles!
Those who have taken lessons before usually understand from the get-go that a commitment to practice is vital to advancing on the guitar. However, it has become apparent that some guitar teachers have a much more casual attitude about lesson planning. In some cases it’s obvious that they did no planning at all, based on the random things the student knows. Or perhaps that teacher subscribes to the square-peg-in-a-round-hole way of teaching, offering a totally linear and rigid course that doesn’t take into account what the student really wants to learn. This really bothers me. What it leads to is frustration for the student (which most likely is why they stopped their lessons) but from my standpoint it sometimes leads to unrealistic expectations. Sometimes I even have to say: If I had a magic wand I could wave over your head and turn you into a fabulous player, I would! But not before I waved it over my own head!
Interestingly, I often find that self-taught players more readily accept a direction-based course of study catered to their interests than those who have tried private lessons for a period of time. This may be because those with experience with another teacher are so used to a teaching method that differs from mine that they have a hard time accepting that I have different ideas about technique and focus than what they originally learned.
The “balance” is a huge part of my lesson planning. For a newer student with previous experience that means factoring interests and expectations with challenging them to the point that they see advancement as soon as possible. There are plenty of other things I must consider too of course like physical ability, how to present the material in a way that they can understand – something that varies widely; even “smart” people can be flummoxed by things like music theory – and even the quality of the guitar they are using. But a student who has previous experience with another teacher is with me instead because he or she hopes I can advance their playing faster or better than their previous teacher. I won’t deny that this is intimidating for me at times! But in a way, it feels good too because I like a challenge.
I’ve found over the years that it’s very important for me ask questions.
Are you playing for personal enjoyment only, or do you hope to perform?
Do you think you want to play with other people?
Are you willing to try to sing while you play? (This is a tough one – many people are fine with that but some are terrified at the prospect. I explain that the most timid singer or even someone who’s never done it outside their shower can always lock their bedroom door and try it! Value judgements are not allowed, ha!)
Do you listen to current music, older stuff, or some combination?
What I’ve found is that most people really haven’t considered those things all that much except in a very general way. But those elements of learning the guitar are VERY important. I don’t fault them for being that way. After all, playing the guitar is supposed to be fun and qualifying one’s expectations in terms of what is required can sound more like work than fun. That is another part of my “balance” that I mentioned earlier.
Years ago when I was in the retail world I had a boss who instructed me early on to NEVER diss the competition. It only makes YOU look petty and egotistical. It was a valuable lesson and I try to live by it, even when a new student shows up with random material given to him or her by a previous guitar teacher. Although I always want to know who their previous teacher was, I never ever bad-mouth that person. The most important lesson I’ve learned is that when this happens, it is vital to explain exactly why we will be doing things differently and how what I’m proposing will make them a better player.
As with most things in life, it comes down to keeping an open mind.
Peace & good music,
Greg Allman passed away today due to complications from liver cancer. As a member of The Allman Brothers band, he was mainly know for playing the Hammond organ, but even when his brother Duane was alive.
|Melissa on a Washburn guitar|
Greg occasionally took up a guitar for a few songs. Perhaps the most notable of these was called Melissa. This song was originally performed on an acoustic guitar that belonged to Duane that was tuned to open E.
|Duane and Greg Allman|
Greg and his Duane started life in Nashville Tennessee, but grew up in Florida.
Their first real band was called The Escorts. The band was good enough to be the opening act for a Beach Boys concert.
|The Allman Joys|
The Escorts became The Allman Joys, which mainly played cover songs. During this time Greg purchased a Vox Continental organ.
In order keep the band together and avoid being drafted into the armed services, Greg Allman shot himself in the foot. In 1967 they were renamed Hour Glass.
|Allman Brother's Band|
In 1969 the group was finally named The Allman Brother’s Band.
|Allman's motorcycle after the crash|
Tragically Duane Allman was killed in a motorcycle accident in 1971. Following this, the bands bass player Berry Oakley also died in a motorcycle accident.
|Brothers and Sisters|
|Greg Allman and Cher|
Greg Allman went on to form the Greg Allman Band. He also married Cher and remained with her for a decade.
|I'm No Angel|
Allman recorded several albums and had a hit single called I’m No Angel. The Allman Brother’s Band regrouped in the early 1980’s. In 1989 The Allman Brothers Band got back together and continued to perform through 2014.
|Low Country Blues|
Greg Allman released a solo album called Low Country Blues in 2011, and his final album, Southern Blood, will be released this year.
Allman is a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee and is on Rolling Stone Magazine’s 100 Greatest Singers of All Time.
|Greg Allman Autobiography|
In 2012 Greg Allman published his autobiography called My Cross To Bear. Though Greg was mainly known as the singer and organist for the Allman Brothers Band, he did step up front and play guitar. Much is written about Duane’s guitars and equipment, but not so much is written concerning Greg’s guitars.
|Greg Allman with Les Paul Custom|
One of the earliest photo of Greg Allman playing a guitar is from 1975. In it he has a black Les Paul Custom.
|Greg Allman with Gibson SG|
The Allman Brother's Laid Back album came out around 1973 and it had a song called Queen of Hearts. From about that same time he is shown here with a Gibson SG, that may have belonged to Duane.
|Greg Allman with an SG|
Here is a 1974 picture of Greg playing a different Gibson SG. Butch Trucks was the drummer for the Allman Brothers Band. His son is Derek Trucks. I'm sure Duane and Greg's fondness for SG's must have influenced him.
|Greg Allman with Veleno Guitar|
Here is another picture of a young Greg Allman playing a Veleno guitar. Those guitars were made of metal and had a mirrored finish.
|Allman with Veleno guitar|
Here is another photo of him tuning the Veleno up. Note the unusual headstock and metal neck.
|Greg Allman - Stratocaster|
Allman is seen here with a black Fender Stratocaster. It is possibly a late 1960's model.
|Allman and Cher - Ovation acoustic|
Here he is seen singing with Cher and playing an Ovation acoustic. In the mid to late 1970's Ovation's were the go-to stage guitars, since the piezo pickups were the best.
|Gibson SST 12 string guitar|
Here Greg is seen singing Melissa and playing a Gibson SST 12 string.
|Allman with a Martin D-35|
He can be seen from this video playing a Martin D-35. Click on the link under the picture and you will see that Greg Allman was an excellent Blues guitar player.
|Allman with a Guild|
This clip from a TV show show Allman playing Come and Go Blues on a Guild D-40.
|G. Allman Washburn signature models|
Greg Allman had an endorsement deal with Washburn guitars. Here are the two models the company produced. The black guitar has "Melissa" inlaid in mother-of-pearl on the fretboard.
|Greg Allman with Gibson J-200|
In recent years Greg Allman used a Gibson J-200 at his concerts.
Greg Allman struggled for years with addiction to alcohol, heroin and other drugs. He spent many years in rehab and became sober. In 2007 it was discovered he had hepatitus C. He underwent a liver transplant in 2010.
He died at his home in Savannah Georgia surrounded by his family and friends.
Please click on the links below the pictures for the sources. Click on the links in the text for further information.
©UniqueGuitar Publications 2017 (text only)
|1961 P Bass|
A bass guitar owned and played by Motown legend James Jamerson will be up for auction later this month. This is the instrument was not the original that Jamerson played during his years with Motown’s Funk Brothers, as the label’s go-to session bass player. It is apparently a second bass that he owned. It is a 1961 Fender Precision Bass.
|'57 Black Beauty|
Jamerson’s first electric bass was a 1957 Precision Bass, refinished in black, with a gold-anodized pickguard and maple fretboard, which he nicknamed "Black Beauty". That bass was a gift from his fellow bass player Horace "Chili" Ruth. It was eventually stolen.
|Jamerson with '62 Funk Machine|
|Jamerson with 1962 Fender P Bass|
Jamerson had carved the word “Funk” on the the heel of the instrument. He typically set its volume and tone knobs on full. Sadly this bass was also stolen sometime in 1983 at a time when he was in the hospital and dying.
|1961 Fender P Bass|
Jamerson left Detroit and moved to Los Angeles when Motown Records moved their headquarters to California. Apparently the bass was forgotten by Jamerson.
This bass is being offered by Heritage Auctions, with bidding starting on May 29th. The official dates are June 17th and 18th. There is a $12,000 premium. Click the link to register.
The bass is completely original. Only one of the La Bella strings has been replaced.
Jamerson is one of the best known and most influential electric bass players of all time. He was inducted posthumously into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2000. His playing can be heard on at least 30 Number 1 hit recordings and more than 70 R&B hit recordings.
Jamerson started his career by playing in Detroit clubs and later found session work with the Motown Record Company. He began by playing string bass, but switched to electric bass during the 1960’s.
|Funk Brothers, Jamerson in the back|
As mentioned before, James Jamerson was part of a core group of Motown Session player that came to be known as The Funk Brothers. In addition to session work, he sometimes toured with the artists. Though the musicians did not receive credit on the singles or albums for their work until sometime in the 1970’s,
|Jamerson with Marvin Gaye|
Jamerson’s playing can be found on such hits as Just Like Romeo and Juliet, You Can’t Hurry Love, My Girl, Shotgun, For Once In My Life, I Was Made To Love Her.
|Jamerson in the studio|
That is him playing the bass lines on Going to a Go-Go, Dancing In The Street, I Heard It Through The Grapevine, What’s Going On, Reach Out, I’ll Be There, and Bernadette. When Motown ended in 1973, Jamerson performed on such songs as Neither One Of Us, Boogie Down, Boogie Fever, You Don’t Have To Be A Star, and Heaven Must Have Sent You.
|Jamerson with '62 Funk Machine|
It was suggested to Jamerson that he switch to brighter sounding roundwound strings, but he declined.
|Jamerson with Funk Machine|
In an interesting 2015 article from the Talkbass forum titled, James Jamerson's Funk Machine - Wrong Year, the editor of Bass Magazine and a reader discuss the fact that the famous Funk Machine may not be a 1962 Fender Precision bass, but rather a model created between 1964 and 1967, based on the transition logo decal, created in 1964, and the pearloid dot fret markers.
|Bridge Cover Foam Mute|
|Jamerson on upright bass|
When playing upright bass, he used his index finger to pluck the strings. On electric and acoustic bass, he favoured utilizing open strings. This technique helped give his playing a fluid feel. He subsequently got the nickname; The Hook.
On studio recordings James Jamerson plugged directly into the mixing console. He adjusted the console so his sound was slightly overdriven. The tubes in the mixer gave him a little compression.
|Jamerson with Ampeg B-15 amp|
When he played in clubs he used an Ampeg B-15 amplifier with an older Kustom speaker cabinet loaded with twin 15” speakers and covered in blue Naugahyde. He always played with the volume control turned up fully and the treble control turned only half way up.
When you want everyone to know that Martin is yours, you can do so by adding some personality of your own to it. Just like a favorite tattoo or the quirky clothes you wear, you can do the same for your guitar.
You may not know this but you can add almost anything you want to personalize your instrument in the Martin Custom Shop. From something as simple as having your name inlaid into the fingerboard, quoting a favorite verse, to full blown artists’ renderings inlaid with gems and gold. If you dream it, we can make it.
How is this all possible? We have to ask the inlay specialists. There are two employees working in the Martin Custom Shop, Sean Brandle and Brent Williams, who specialize in producing the inlay work. Whether creating their own artwork from scratch or recreating works given to them, these guys can do some amazing things when it comes to inlaying guitars.
Sean and Brent have both been working at Martin Guitar for six years. Sean was formerly a graphic designer before he started working with the Martin team. While at Martin, Sean first learned rim assembly operations and then moved into the Custom Shop where he was able to get his creative juices flowing. Sean has designed several art pieces of his own that are being made right now. Brent also learned other operations throughout the facility, including rim assembly and pearl inlay, before transferring into the Custom Shop. One of the reasons these guys love their jobs is because every day is different.
Each guitar they work on is like creating a piece of art. One of our esteemed dealers said, “They are making the museum pieces of the future." I have to agree, some of the work they are doing is really amazing! Sean and Brent said the most rewarding part of their job is when a customer comes to the factory to pick up their guitar. They get to see their vision come to life and witness the extreme gratitude the customer has. It’s not every day you get to meet the artist that created your piece.
Sean and Brent have been working with many new materials to inlay guitars. The most traditional inlay has been mother of pearl. But Brent’s favorite material to work with is wood. He uses many species of wood to create his scenes. He discovered a special sand shading technique that he applies to each piece that really brings his projects to life. Other inlays that are used include reconstituted stone, blue and green paua pearl, rare coins, and even a request for the owners’ ashes to be turned to diamonds. Below is a fingerboard inlaid with many exotic woods to create a desert scene.
Many people have asked Sean and Brent how these amazing pieces are made. They can’t give away all of the secrets, but they said some are done the old way by hand with a coping saw and a pencil grinder, a small type of dremel tool. While some are now using today’s technology with finely tuned CNC equipment to assist in making very intricate cuts. Sean and Brent’s vision for the future is to help design products that will become cherished customs. Some other pieces that they have worked on recently include this:
Custom Eagle Inlay
Ace of Spades Fingerboard Inlay
Custom Lion Head
Custom Ornamental Bridge
Ready to get started on your own piece of art? Contact your local authorized Martin dealer to begin the custom guitar making process.
Steve Hess is a twenty-three year veteran who has had guitars around his entire life. Steve is a third generation employee of Martin Guitar, having his father and grandfather both retire after many years of service. Steve has worked with guitars throughout his life. Steve spent six years at Martin learning the fine art of customer repair work. He then moved into the Quality Assurance department and has held several management roles. Steve is currently the manufacturing manager of the Custom Shop. He enjoys travel, meeting new people, and getting to share the Martin brand with guitar enthusiasts. Steve said one of his favorite things is when a person asks where he works and can proudly say, “Martin Guitar!" People are instantly blown away and jealous.
Stone Sour’s new single “Song #3″ recently cracked the Top 25 on Billboard‘s Rock Airplay chart, and now comes an accompanying music video.
Directed by Ryan Valdez, the clip begins with lead singer Corey Taylor walking onto a movie set. After donning a Wayne’s World looking long blond wig, Taylor hops onstage with his Stone Sour bandmates, who are all dressed in white. Several more wardrobe changes occur throughout the performance of the soaring track, which will appear on their upcoming June 30th seventh studio album Hydrograd.
Check out the video below …
Though this Sankey Guitars Bast model is far from my usual taste, I find that I'm drawn to it's looks. It could be that they scorched and burnished to body, which is made of douglas fir, and then when the reliefs were carved the true wood is exposed.
The seven piece neck is made of layers of ebony, cocobolo, and purple heart. This was done for stability in the Californian desert climate, but it also looks fantastic.
The Bast also sports a polyphonic pickup and preamp allowing for strong piezo acoustic sound and hexaphonic midi. On top of that there is a standard magnetic pickup as well.
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In 1994, the crew of the Columbia Space Shuttle STS-62 boldly went where no guitar has gone before with the launch of a miniature Backpacker “Space Guitar” which was sent to orbit around the earth.
Now in 2017, Martin Guitar is celebrating the 25th anniversary of the Martin Backpacker! Available only in 2017, the limited edition Backpacker is constructed with sapele top, back, and sides. The Martin Backpacker is strung with Martin Acoustic strings and is the perfect for summer travel.
Explore the 25th Anniversary Martin Backpacker here. You can also purchase it by finding your nearest authorized Martin dealer, finding a certified online Martin dealer, or exploring the buy from factory program.
The 2017 CMT Music Award nominees have been announced and three Martin Ambassadors are nominated!
Nominations include: Dierks Bentley and Elle King’s “Different For Girls” for Video of the Year and Collaborative Video of the Year, Thomas Rhett’s “Star Of The Show” for Video of the Year and Male Video of the Year, and Thomas Rhett along with Nick Jonas and Danielle Bradberry for CMT Performance of the Year.
The CMT Music Award show will air on June 7th.
Martin Ambassador Dierks Bentley's Martin guitar of choice is the D-28, while Elle King opts for the OMCPA5 Black, and Thomas Rhett reaches for his Custom Martin guitar.You can purchase these guitars by finding your nearest authorized Martin dealer, finding a certified online Martin dealer, or exploring the buy from factory program.
I have basic patterns for my dulcimers but the the exact shape and size of each dulcimer varies slightly from one dulcimer to the next. I have embraced a fairly free-form style of building and use very few jigs, forms, and fixtures.
By building free-form I feel like I am sculpting a dulcimer rather than making a bunch of parts and assembling them. The frame of the dulcimer (sides and end blocks) and the fretboard become the reference points for laying out the rest of instrument. I can make small changes to the shape and size of the dulcimer by feel and eye and work with it until everything seems right to me.
The thickness of the top and back and the bracing pattern are determined in a similar manner.
Free-form building is not the most efficient way to make dulcimers in a timely manner. If I made all the parts to a set pattern and assembled them in fixtures I would make more dulcimers in less time but I wouldn’t enjoy the process very much.
These photographs are of a baritone dulcimer in progress. The final shape of the dulcimer is traced on the soundboard and the soundholes are laid out using a template. I have also laid out the placement of the position markers on the fingerboard. A scraper serves as a short straight edge for drawing the layout lines.
|Bernardo C. Rico|
Bernardo Chavez Rico aka Bernie learned about guitars from his father. Bernardo, or Bernie, was an accomplished Flamenco guitarist.
His father, Bernardo Mason Rico had purchased the store from Candelas Brothers guitar shop. The Candelas Guitar store is a legend all to itself. The store was re-christened Bernardo’s Guitar Shop.
Although Bernardo Senior was not a luthier, he was a business man. And he hired luthiers and craftsmen to do the work. It was from these men that Bernie learned his craft. The shop offered Flamenco and Classical guitars along with other stringed instruments.
|'71 Rico acoustic|
Around 1968 Bernie made his first electric solid body guitar and topped it with a Fender neck.
|1974 Rico Bass|
|1974 B.C. Rich Seagull|
Within four years Rico and a fellow employee named Bob Hall came up with the original Seagull design. By 1974 this became their first offering. Another employee named Mal Stich, inadvertently answered the phone one day by saying, “B.C. Rich”, instead of “Bernardo’s Guitar Shop”. The name stuck. Bernie Rich’s goal was to make a production line guitar with custom shop quality.
By 1977 the retail price was just under $1000 USD. But they were scarce.
The music store I frequented back in those days had 2 B.C. Rich guitars; the Seagull and the Mockingbird. Both guitars were excellent.
|'74 Seagull with Gibson pickups|
At first the pickups were made by Gibson. This is because B.C. Rich guitars were originally distributed by L.D. Heater, which was a subsidiary of Gibson. This allowed them to obtain Gibson parts. However due the fact that Rich was utilizing coil taps and phase reversal on each model each Gibson pickup needed to be dissembled to be reconfigured to use four wires then put back together.
Eventually Gibson realized their pickups were being used by a competitor and put a halt to the practice.
Later models used Guild pickups, until Rich contacted Larry DiMarzio and asked if his company could produce a four wire model. From that point on B.C. Rich guitars and basses used DiMarzio pickups.
|1976 B.C. Rich Eagle|
|'77 B.C. Rich Advertisement|
|1982 Rich Bich|
|Rich Bich Electronics|
|1978 Rich Bich 10 string|
The reason for the large V shaped cutaway was due to the fact that this guitar was offered as a 10-string model. The wedge was designed to hold four Grover tuning pegs so that the upper four strings had double courses. These four strings had their end pieces strung into 4 metal grommets in the center of the headstock that were then attached to the pegs on the bottom of the guitar.
|Bottom view of '78 Rich Bich|
This upside-down concept was copied in later years by Steinberger (although his design was much different) and other manufacturers.
|Trey Azagthoth Ironbird|
The B.C. Rich Ironbird was designed by Joey Rico in 1983. It was in-my-opinion, a heavy metal version of the B.C. Rich Mockingbird. This instrument had a small cutaway on the upper bout and an exagerated, and pointy cutaway on the lower bout. The bottom of the guitar had two offset and pointy terminal points. The headstock was made rosewood. This guitar was popular endorsed by Trey Azagthoth of Morbid Angel.
|Trey Azagthoth's |
|B.C. Rich Acrylic|
An interesting feature of the Acrylic guitars is the neck joint. This was called IT (invisibolt technology) which allowed the neck to be bolted inside the body, to give it the appearance of a neck-through, however the neck was actually a bolt-on type.
|BC Rich Warlock prototype|
|1988 BC Rich Warlock|
The Warlock II came out the following year.
|BC Rich Wave|
The BC Rich Wave guitar was designed by Martin Evans and made for only a brief period of time. It was reminiscent of the Mockingbird, but with exaggerated features such as a small wave-like cutaway on the instruments bottom.
|BC Rich Stealth 7|
The unique B.C, Rich Stealth guitar was designed by Rick Derringer. It featured twin Dimarzio pickups, a reverse headstock and the usual features found on earlier models. Subsequent production Stealth guitars deleted most of these features and came with only a bridge humbucking pickup.
The B.C. Rich Widow bass was designed by Blackie Warless. It resembled an insect with its twin symmetrical upper and lower horns. The bottom section of the body needed an additional block section to hold the bridge saddle unit.
Some significant events for the company occurred in 1984.
|1984 BC Rich US Series Mockingbird|
The Korean connection led to the introduction of the U.S. Series. These were essentially Korean manufactured guitar kits, with bolt-on necks, that were shipped to California for assembly.
This was the year that the Condor was also introduced. This was a lovely guitar with a flamed maple top on a mahogany body. It was made in Japan.
|BC Rich Fat Bob bass and guitar|
This guitar had an odd triangular shape, with a single Dimarzio pickup, a six-on-a-side headstock, and a Floyd-Rose tremolo.
In 1987 Bernie Rich entered into an agreement with Randy Watuch’s company called Class Axe. This allowed Class Axe to market and distribute some of Rich’s guitar lines, thus leading to some foreign made models.
By 1989 Rich had turned over all of the licensing rights.
That year B.C. Rich guitars moved from California to New Jersey. The guys that were working at the L.A. shop continued to make handmade guitars under the logo LPC Guitars. This venture failed.
|BC Rich Virgin Guitars and Basses|
In 1993 Bernie Rico returned to making handmade guitars when the licensing agreement ran out. Ed Roman of Roman Guitars of Las Vegas purchased the left over stock from Class Axe.
He relocated the shop to Hesperia California.
By 1995 Bernie returned to making acoustic guitars, including the B-41C.
In 1995 the Ignitor and the V were added to the line up.
|1998 Victor Smith Commemoritive|
In 1998 the Exclusive, the Victor Smith Commemorative Model, and the Beast were added.
The following year, B.C, Rich added a seven string version of the Warlock.
On December 3rd of 1999, Bernie Rico died of a heart attack.
The company was taken over to his son Bernie Jr. Under his direction control of the company, B.C. Rich, was sold given to the Hanser Music Group in 2001. They began making guitars under the Rico Jr. name.
|Bernie Rico Jr.|
Asian manufactured B.C. Rich guitars are still being distributed by Davitt and Hanser, as a subsidiary of JAM Industries.
Metalcore heavy hitters Miss May I have dropped another new official music video, this time for the title track of their upcoming June 2nd album, Shadows Inside.
Along with multiple shots of hands reaching towards an evil looking mask, the footage primarily features live performance by the band and is often dark and jarring.
“Not only does this song open up our new record, it also sets the tone for the record,” explains singer Levi Benton. “This album is all about changes throughout life, good and bad. It’s about the past that lives within everyone; their ‘Shadows Inside.’ The lyrics talk about how great new things can give light to your past and put you in a better place.
“We have quite a few videos and we’re always trying to change things up. With this video for ‘Shadows Inside’ we not only wanted to recreate the cover of the record in real life, but we also wanted the performance to be abstract. We had black lights and used old lens effects from the ’90s to achieve a very classic look and something totally different for us.”
Watch the clip below and pre-order the new album here.
We found the slope shoulder guitar you've been searching for!
The 00LX1AE is a new release from Martin Guitar and is constructed with a Sitka spruce top and mahogany patterned high-pressure laminate back and sides. The build of this guitar allows for major tolerance to fluctuating temperatures so you and the guitar can travel with ease. A faux tortoise pick guard and Richlite fingerboard and bridge complete the look of the 00LX1AE. Its Fishman Sonitone electronics and SP Lifespan strings make it perfect for your upcoming gig.
This is annual event has its roots all the way back in 1844. Locations of the fair have changed over the years and in spite of enduring financial hardship caused by such things as the polio scare of the 1950s and a hurricane that wiped out most of existing structures the fair is today a thriving event and both locals and visitors look forward to it each summer.
It is a classic county fair, with animal acts, some of which have been controversial in recent years, a midway, exhibits of local crafts, flowers and vegetables, a demolition derby (one of the most popular events!), horse shows and competitions, livestock judging, plenty of incredibly indulgent junk food, and much more. The admission charge is nominal and includes admission to all the exhibits (rides in the midway must be paid for of course). But my favorite aspect has always been the music.
Both nationally known acts and local bands are featured. Of course, this is NOT the Texas State Fair or the like, so you won’t see the hottest stars, but the musicians I’ve seen over the many years my family has been attending have often been quite remarkable. Sometimes they are nostalgia acts, or musicians past their prime in terms of general popularity – but that does not mean they are bad. Some memorable examples:
Country legend Tammy Wynette. I can’t recall the year but it was shortly before she passed away. Tammy put on a great show and you could tell she was sincerely appreciative of the audience’s loving reaction to her.
Country star Ricky Scaggs. Again, can’t recall the year but it was after his pop country star status had faded in the 1980s but he had yet to gain the status of bluegrass superstar that he enjoys today. Again, a classic country performer who knows how to put on a great show. His guitar and mandolin playing were absolutely amazing.
The Mama’s and Papa’s. Well, actually only Papa John was an original member but he brought along (unannounced) his friend Scott McKenzie of “If You’re Going to San Fransisco” fame to do Denny’s parts, and the two young women who took Michelle and Cass’s parts were great – the classic M&P harmonies were spot-on and they did all the hits. Papa John was hilarious in his banter with the audience. As a side note, this was when our kids were about ages 5 and 10, and my wife and I threatened to get up and start dancing to “California Dreaming,” which absolutely horrified them! What good is having kids if you can’t embarrass them?!
Poco. Wow, what a show. Three of the four original members, great playing and singing by this seminal group that were in for forefront of the California country rock scene.
Peter Noone of Herman’s Hermits. A hilarious show and tons of fun. Yes, Peter is a bit “long of tooth” to be playing off his boyish grin and blonde bangs but he and his band knew what the fans wanted and expected. The best part was watching the a-bit-older-than-middle-aged women dancing away in front of the stage and trying to flirt with Peter, who flirted right back. The show culminated with The Big One: a fully 15 minute version of “I’m “En-er-y the Eighth, I Y’am!” with robust sing-along encouraged. Everyone left with grins on their faces. I’m smiling just thinking about it!
Two years ago was Three Dog Night. While I was not a huge fan of theirs back in the day, with three of the original members giving it their all (including a killer covers of “Shambala”, “Mama Told Me Not To Come” and of course the finale “Joy To The World”) it was a great show. With 21 Top 40 hits in the 60s and early 70s, they had plenty to play. In retrospect it is bittersweet because member Cory Wells, who did most of the lead vocals died a few months later. Glad we saw them when we did, they too truly loved and appreciated their long-time fans.
One year there was a touring Beatles tribute act who were quite amazing, with period correct instruments and of course plenty of banter. Their chops were first rate, and I am very picky when it comes to Beatles music!
There were a few others that I can’t recall at this moment. But why am I writing this now? The line-up for this years’ fair (July 17 – 23 at the Barnstable County Fairgrounds on Rt. 151 in Falmouth) includes BJ Thomas (I think I will pass on that as I do not need to hear “Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head” ever again, thank you very much, or “Hooked on a Feeling” for that matter!), the Cowsills (the Cowsills??? Ugh, hated them back then and I doubt they’d change my mind now). And….
Blood, Sweat and Tears!! Yes, their line-up had changed over the years – no David Clayton Thomas for sure, but I am absolutely certain they will put on an outstanding show. I loved them back then and I still love their music today. In fact, they were the first really big deal band I ever saw live, at my (now) wife’s college in Pennsylvania. They were at their peak of popularity and because my wife was on the entertainment committee we had second row seats. Outstanding!! Also, bringing their (2nd and most popular) album home for the Christmas holidays and putting it on the turntable, my dad, hardcore jazzer and rock music hater, took great interest and declared, hey those guys are GOOD! They can play JAZZ! It was big moment in our relationship, to be honest. So I will always love BS&T and I can’t wait to hear them again.
The frosting on the cake is that we will have my niece and her two young children visiting and I know they will love the fair. And who knows, maybe my wife and I can bust some moves to “Spinning Wheel” and slow-dance to “You Made Me So Very Happy” and embarrass them too!
If you happen to be on Cape Cod this summer, check out the Barnstable County Fair!
Peace & good music,
Twice last week I had students – marginally experienced beginners – who were confronted with this fact. One was a young woman who had taught herself a few chords and she loves to sing (hooray for that!!) but she knew that she was essentially matching her single strums to the lyrics without any semblance of a beat. I see this frequently and those who do this know that something is lacking. It’s easy to define what that is and I give them exercises right away to get them counting beats and measures in preparation for the first big step, which is matching the lyrics to the rhythm, not the other way around. She’ll do fine.
The other case was more perplexing but I’ve dealt with it many times before. That student wanted to know exactly what is the difference between a syncopated beat and a “straight” beat?
To be totally honest, I wish I had a better explanation. When explaining rhythm I always use a “fractional” system. If one is reading music this is pretty straight-forward, i.e., the value of whole notes, half notes, quarter notes and so on. But as it relates to strumming, which is what the vast majority of my students want to do rather than just read single lines of printed notes I find myself defaulting to something that I used to hate from music teachers I had way-back-when: it needs to be felt as much as (or more than?) intellectualized. Arrggh! Just typing that gives me a headache!
Interestingly, if you do an internet search for an explanation of syncopation you won’t find any terribly clear information. The best most people can come up with is something along the lines of “accents on beats which are unexpected” (!!!). If your search includes You Tube videos, the person attempting to explain it often then plays something that is syncopated and yes, there it is, but again – what is it, REALLY?
The best explanation I can come up with is this. Let’s assume you’re in 4/4 time (although syncopation is certainly used in ¾, 2/4, even more exotic time signatures like 5/4 and 7/8). This means there are 4 beats per measure. Just count evenly and slowly: one, two, three, four. One, two, three, four. (that would be two measures of 4/4, with a quarter note on each beat if you’d like to think in terms of musical notation)
Now here’s the slightly tricky part. In most explanations I’ve seen it is suggested that “normal” accents come on beats 1 and 3; in syncopation the accents are on 2 and 4. Think of the piano playing “Maple Leaf Rag.” But I suggest counting a triplet for each of those four beats, like this: ONE, 2, 3, TWO, 2, 3, THREE, 2, 3, FOUR, 2, 3. Try saying this out loud to get the feel for the triplets on top of a four-beat measure. Just say what’s above evenly with no hesitation between the words/count.
Now…… REST on the “2” of each of those triplets:
ONE (rest) 3, TWO (rest), 3, THREE (rest), 3, FOUR (rest), 3
Again, say the above EVENLY, or better yet, tap your hand on your leg on the numbers but not on the rests.
Do you feel it? I hope so! But see what I mean? Breaking it down into actual mathematical fractions of the beat is tough to think about. Some people can do it, some have real trouble. And this, my friends, is why I often default to “feeling” syncopation rather than thinking about it.
But wait, there’s another thing you can do, which is LISTEN for syncopation. Virtually all blues employs syncopation, either in the back rhythm or in soloing. Listen to Eric Clapton’s version of “Before You Accuse Me” to hear strong syncopation. Many country songs use it. Listen to Hank William’s “Your Cheatin’ Heart” or James Taylor’s “Bartender’s Blues” for examples of syncopation in both 4/4 and ¾ time.
Back at the beginning I mentioned how adamant I am about my students conquering rhythmic concepts and applying them to their playing, regardless if the song is difficult or very basic. For some it comes easy, for others it is a real struggle. This is because they often have never had to actually THINK about the concept of keeping a steady beat. Whether they can verbalize it or not, most people assume rhythm is just something that “happens.” But nothing could be further from the truth. Like every other musical skill, it must be practiced and the player has to be focused on it both mentally and physically. Then, sooner or later, it does get easier. This is what I mean by internalizing rhythm. Or as I tell my students: If you count now, you won’t have to count later.
Want to test your internalization of this? Try taking a song, any song, and playing it both with a “straight” beat and then a syncopated beat. Sure, it might sound a bit funny but if you can do this you can be sure you’re on your way to conquering rhythm, the most basic musical skill of them all.
Peace & good music,
After a long run of acoustic guitar success in the 1970s and early 1980s they found themselves losing a lot of ground once the mid 80s were in full bloom and hair bands ruled the land.
They had to do something.
I'm not defending Takamine for coming up with these Takamine Guitars and Basses , in fact there is a lot to like about them.
Even though it's not something that I'd usually appreciate, I find I'm a fan of the black with red combo ( See my most recent boot purchase ). I also do not totally hate the body shape on these. They're much more subtle than this Takamine, obviously from the same era.
The seller is looking for trades and I'm sure this would be a great addition to the right collection.
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I was recently watching one of the “reality” TV shows, where people go to offbeat location to do odd things. This led to me remarking out loud, “I have been there, I did that, but I had clothes on." This comment of course got a lot of odd looks, and I had to get out my cell phone and play show and tell. While most people like hearing the stories of me almost getting blown up, being held hostage, or having bugs lay larvae under my skin, generally speaking most people ask “Why would you do that?" When this question is posed to the reality “stars," they usually have something to prove to themselves, their families or friends. (Yes I find that really stupid too).
My answer is always one word, guitars!
Next time you are undecided about paying that extra .5% for the guitar of your dreams, think of the process…. and my near death experiences. And now on with the show.
Hello from somewhere in the world. Today we are after River Monsters a.k.a Sinker Mahogany. Shhhh Be vewy vewy quiet, we’re hunting logs.
I think we have spotted one of the rascally creatures!
The one that did not get away!
Now we are off to the sawmill where we see if this is a guitar quality log. Fingers crossed. Absolutely beautiful, but not quite what I am looking for. This will make someone a nice table. Fortunately for you, there is no smellavision. When you cut Sinker Mahogany, it smells like 100 skunks got angry, all at the same time.
I see guitar parts!
In a few months, these will be great sounding guitars. Speaking of sound, I have noticed that Sinker mahogany has a tendency to have deeper bass response than standard Mahogany. I believe this if from all the sediment the wood picks up sitting under the water for 300 years. If you look really close, you can see little black specks in the pores. In house, we call this pepper. Add finish and ….
Michael Dickinson is a 26-year veteran of Martin Guitar. Michael has worked in numerous departments, such as the Sawmill and Customer Service, and is the current buyer of exotic, alternative, and sustainable woods. Ask Michael is a bi-monthly column that will appear on the Martin Guitar blog.
Please note, Michael will not be responding to every comment left on the blog.
Over the years I’ve had a few students who could rip through pyrotechnic licks at will and they did at the drop of a hat. And if you want to see this tendency on full display, go down to your local Guitar Center any Saturday afternoon where the younger guitar heroes are trying out the latest Strat or Les Paul. Impressive? You bet! It takes a lot of effort and many hours of practice to play like that. I guess my question would be…. Why?
OK, I know the answer because a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away I too wanted to be the fastest guitar player on the planet (or at least in my town!). That didn’t happen or course but look, when you reach the point that you have reasonable overall command of your guitar it’s natural to want to spice things up a bit. For a young guitarist – male, in most cases; girls and women know better than to fall into this trap – it’s all about what that young player is most impressed by, and that is often SPEED.
Is it wrong to go down that road? No, of course not. Except that the need-for-speed is often driven more by ego issues than truly wanting to be a better player. I think the real question should be: just who are you trying to impress? Your friends? Cool, they are your friends and if they are impressed with flashy solos they will tell you because, well, they’re your friends! Other guitar players? Hoo boy, that’s where is gets complicated and ego becomes the dominant force at work. In my experience it is rare to find another guitarist who will truly and sincerely react in a positive way to showy, flashy playing by someone they consider their contemporary. More often, they are thinking along the lines of, “I can play that better!” or “Is he doing that to make me feel worse about my own playing?”
An audience? Sorry to say, roughly 95% of most audiences on the local level, when listening to a player who is NOT famous, couldn’t give a rat’s @ss how fast or flashy you can play. And the 5% who do care will most likely be comparing your playing to someone who IS famous. But if you can sing well, they are yours. Hard, cold fact there, aspiring guitar heroes. Sorry.
So does speed and flash have any value at all? In the right hands it certainly does. What you will notice with those who do employ speed to their advantage is that they frame those fancy licks with stuff that is not flashy but RIGHT. This is done by using phrasing, rhythmic variation, being melodic and a host of other things that only come with experience. Most importantly, let the music breathe. Don’t try to fill every moment of time with sound. That will draw in the listener and when you finally do whip out that fancy riff, I guarantee it will sound all the more impressive. Listen to great players in blues, jazz and country and you will notice this right away.
“Don’t play it if you can’t sing it!” I love that credo, which has been used for a very long time by teachers introducing soloing to their students, especially in jazz and classical music. That mind-set has value for rockers too. Listen to the solo by Larry Carlton on the classic Steely Dan tune, “Bodhisattva.” It builds from a fairly simple theme and when Carlton does let loose it takes your breath away. If he had started out with the extended 32nd note part of the solo, would it have been as impressive or would the interest wane quickly? I’ll let you be the judge.
Peace & good music,