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Four Handy Guitar Pedal Hacks

Guitar World - Wed, 12/13/2017 - 14:03

If you own guitar pedals—and of course you do—you’ve undoubtedly dealt with battery and power-supply issues, bad connections and leftover residue from the Velcro pads used to hold pedals on your pedal board.

If you own guitar pedals—and of course you do—you’ve undoubtedly dealt with battery and power-supply issues, bad connections and leftover residue from the Velcro pads used to hold pedals on your pedal board.

In this video, Phillip McKnight demonstrates four handy guitar pedal hacks to deal with all of these issues and make working with pedals easier. All of the hacks are easy to perform, including two that involve same basic knowledge of electronics and wiring.

Phillip demonstrates how to make a convenient battery power supply for pedals that don’t take batteries by using the barrel connector from a wall wart and a nine-volt battery clip. He also shows how to remove glue residue left on pedals from stickers or Velcro pads, and how to prevent the Velcro pads from damaging or removing the manufacturer’s labels on the bottom of your pedal. He wraps up the video by showing how to make a handy diagnosis cable from a cable end and alligator clips that you can use to find shorts in your pedal board’s signal chain, test speakers and much more.

Take a look. And when you’re done, visit Phillip’s YouTube channel for more of his great and informative videos.

Categories: General Interest

Gear Review: Goldfinch Guitars Kensington, Painted Lady Rhythm Master

Guitar World - 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 goldfinchguitar.com.

Categories: General Interest

Rig Rundown: mewithoutYou

Premier Guitar - Wed, 12/13/2017 - 13:00
Post-hardcore guitar assassins Michael Weiss and Brandon Beaver talk tone tools with PG’s Perry Bean.
Categories: General Interest

How to Use Open Strings for Blues

Guitar World - 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

Guitar World - 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

Guitar World - 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 alicecooper.com.

Categories: General Interest

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

Guitar World - 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

J Rockett Audio Designs Introduces the Animal Overdrive

Premier Guitar - Wed, 12/13/2017 - 10:11
A new take on classic British bark.
Categories: General Interest

Andy Timmons Launches GuitarXperience Lesson Site

Guitar World - 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, GuitarXperience.net.

Actually, GuitarXperience.net 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 GuitarXperience.net. For more about Timmons, visit andytimmons.com.

Categories: General Interest

Watch Jeff Loomis Discuss Ernie Ball Paradigm Strings

Guitar World - 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 ernieball.com/paradigm.

Categories: General Interest

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

Guitar World - 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 rockhall.com.

Categories: General Interest

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

Guitar World - 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

Listen to the January 2018 PG Spotify Playlist

Premier Guitar - Wed, 12/13/2017 - 07:00
Check out the latest tracks from Radiohead, Bootsy Collins, Samantha Fish, and Bloodclot.
Categories: General Interest

Schertler Introduces the ROY Acoustic Combo

Premier Guitar - Wed, 12/13/2017 - 06:24
A 400-watt, 7-channel combo that is equipped with a 1” tweeter and two 8” woofers.
Categories: General Interest

Smithereens Frontman Pat DiNizio Dead at 62

Guitar World - 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

Last Call: Here, Now, or Nowhere

Premier Guitar - Wed, 12/13/2017 - 03:00
The VIP at your next gig should be you.
Categories: General Interest

The Impractical Guitar Maker's 2017 Holiday Gift Guide, Day One

Brokeoff Mountain Luthierie - Tue, 12/12/2017 - 18:17
Is there a classical guitar player in your life and you just don't know what to get them this holiday season?

I asked several classical guitarists what guitar-related items they would like to receive as gifts this season, and I got very good feed back that I will share with you this week and perhaps into next.

#1 Most Requested Item

A one year supply of guitar strings!

Guitarists who practice, play and perform on a regular can wear out a set of strings in just one week!

The oils from you hand actually clog the metal windings on the bass strings.  Bass strings can be washed in an ammonia solution or hot soapy water and then line dried, but eventually the strings become thump sounding. The clear treble strings fair better, but still become worn out with playing.

I remember in college having to do the weekly or bi-weekly trips to the local music store, and then there were the phone calls home asking for money to buy strings.

This is the string drawer in my other workbench. As you can see I like several different brands, Savarez, LaBella,  D'Addario and Dogal brands are all tops in my book. 

I definitely have a favorite brand, but the strings a guitarist uses are a very personal choice, so be sure to ask that guitarist in your life what their favorite strings are before you buy! 

Here are two websites to visit, please know that there are many other string supplier websites to check out.

Have fun shopping!

Summer Guitar and Music Camps, Workshops, and Clinics

Acoustic Guitar - Tue, 12/12/2017 - 16:09
Summer Guitar and Music Camps, Workshops, and Clinics
We asked Acoustic Guitar readers and audience members where they’ve been to camp recently. Here’s the list: EVENT NAME STATE/PROVINCE COUNTRY Acoustic Alaska AK US Alabama Folk School  AL US Folk Music Festival at Sharlot Hall Museum AZ US Alex de Grassi’s Mendocino Summer Guitar Workshop CA US California Bluegrass Association Father’s Day Festival CBA Youth […]

Lesson: How to Play the Blues Like Charley Patton

Acoustic Guitar - Tue, 12/12/2017 - 13:56
 How to Play the Blues Like Charley Patton
From the February 2018 issue of Acoustic Guitar | BY PETE MADSEN Not enough can be said about the influence of Charley Patton, a musician who is widely considered the father of the Delta blues. He informally mentored none other than Robert Johnson, and Son House, Howlin’ Wolf, Muddy Waters, Elmore James, and John Lee Hooker are just a few of […]

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

Guitar World - 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


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