Saturday, October 31, 2009

Buckethead Plays the Theme from 'Halloween'


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Crystal Frets Vs. GlassTones?

I just received a comment on my Crystal Frets article disputing Erich Stone's claim as the inventor of quartz crystal frets. From the detail provided, could this be from a GlassTones representative?:

"Erich Stone is not the brain child of using quartz (Silica) for frets, GlassTones holds the US patent and Internation patent rights for this revolutionary technology, which was issued May 6, 2008 - US Pat 7,368,646. GlassTones technology purifies the vibration of stringed musical instruments. GlassTones is the real deal! Check them out at Imitation is the greatest form of flattery"

The GlassTonesLLC site is under construction however.

The excerpt below is quoted from

"(Erich) Stone, a Golden resident who worked the last five years at Red Lobster, has yet to convince the U.S. Patent Office of the breakthrough he has achieved. His application for a patent based on appearance was rejected two weeks ago; he is rewriting the application for a scientific patent, based on the clarity, sustainability and power of the sound made by his guitars."
This should get interesting.

Apparently GlassTones has exhibited at Winter NAMM 2009. Check out Guitar Jam Daily for the article.
(Pic Source: Guitar Jam Daily)
The complete home study jazz guitar course

Friday, October 30, 2009

Mike Landau's 1963 Gibson ES125TDC on eBay

Here's an eBay listing for Mike Landau's '63 Gibson ES125TDC. (Item #: 200397545734)

According to the seller, LA Vintage Gear, this guitar is in good shape with no lacquer crazing or checking, which is remarkable for an instrument of this age. Nitrocellulose finishes are sensitive to temperature changes and will develop a patina of small checks when subjected to sudden temperature fluctuations.

Gibson's ES125 full hollowbody was a budget line guitar that proved extremely popular in the early '50s. The ES125T non-cutaway soon followed in 1956 -- the 'T' denoting Gibson's thin hollowbody construction. The thin body was more resistant to feedback at higher volumes than a full-hollowbody instrument.

Production of the ES125TDC began in 1960, following the highly successful ES125T and ES125TC.
The ES125TDC -- T (thin hollowbody), D (double P90 pickups), C (cutaway) -- like its predecessors, was a runaway success. Despite its popularity, Gibson decided to discontinue the entire ES125 line in 1971.

Mike's guitar comes with a custom Cedar Creek case. I'm really digging the luxuriant, royal purple lining!

Mike really seems to be clearing out his attic.

Check out these other listings for Mike's '79 Fender Precision bass and GT500 Goldtone banjo.

The complete home study jazz guitar course

Mike Landau's 1967 Twin Reverb on eBay

Here's a listing for tonemeister Mike Landau's '67 Twin Reverb. (Item #: 200397540137)

According to the seller LA Vintage Gear (a 100% positive feedback seller I might add), this amp is in pristine condition despite being more than 40 years old. Conspicuously absent are any traces of rust anywhere on the amp.

Reworked by custom amp builder Roy Blankenship of Blankenship Amps, only the old capacitors and resistors were replaced. Those things do 'brittle out' or leak, as is common in amps this age.

The only other modification is that the original Jensen speakers have been replaced with Celestion Rola G12-65's, which appear to be the newer reissues.

The complete home study jazz guitar course

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Bell Custom Guitars' New SS Series

Bell Custom Guitars recently announced their new SS Series.

Built around the same innovative fusion of wood and acrylic as its more expensive siblings, the SS Series features flat, non-contoured bodies and standard 'vintage' humbuckers instead of the hand-wound Amalfitano pickups. According to the company's website, the flat bodies offer a considerable cost-savings in labour which the company is glad to pass along to the customer.

The SS Series is currently being offered in three set-neck models with acrylic wings -- the SS-E and SS-ER are both Explorer-shapes with a maple-centre and mahogany-center respectively, while the SS-V has a maple-center.

Now about those acrylic wings.

Fusing man-made materials and wood in guitar building is nothing new -- Dan Armstrong and Ned Steinberger have tried it in the past with varying degrees of success. These instruments were either graphite necks bolted to wooden bodies, or wooden necks grafted to Lucite/acrylic bodies. Even MusicMan jumped on the 'space-age' materials bandwagon once with a limited-run graphite-necked variation of their famed Stingray bass.

But Bell takes a slightly different approach.

Leaving the 'tone' part of the guitar intact -- the strings resonate on a wood neck set into a wood body center-block where the bridge and pickups are also mounted -- the acrylic wings serve only to absorb some of the random resonant frequencies you would find in an all-wood guitar, focusing and compressing the tone.

And at the considerably reduced prices of the SS Series, a Bell guitar is now well within reach of most musicians who might be considering trying something new. Are you feeling it?

(Pic Source:

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Gibson Flying V Custom Made for Elliot Easton on eBay

Here's a listing for a 1984 left-handed Korina Gibson Flying V. According to the seller this 'V' was made for The Cars' Elliot Easton by the Gibson Custom Shop. (Item #:200397024881)

This Flying V sports serial number 0015 (indicating an instrument production number of 15?) and Easton's name silkscreened onto the face of the headstock. According to the seller this was the only lefty korina Flying V ever made.

As a left-hander, Easton has had his share of difficulties as far as procuring instruments.

In an interview in 1986, he said, "I can't walk into a store to try the latest thing. So, being in the position that I'm in, sometimes I just call up the maker and introduce myself. Of course, they are usually glad to make something for me, but they usually want something for it. Where another guy could go into a store and pick up a guitar and go, "Nah, that's not really for me," sometimes I end up having to buy it. Then I decide that it's not for me, and I get rid of it."

"A lefty was never able to walk into a store and find a seafoam green, maple-neck, gold-hardware Strat. He'd be happy as hell if he found a sunburst one with a little bit of a flip in the neck that he had to fix. The fun now is having the same advantages as a righty person as far as having what I want built for me. Now I've got a korina Flying V, a korina Explorer, blonde ES-335s, J200s, Guilds. Most of my guitars are one-off. They are almost all handmade, so while they are making a one-of-a-kind anyway, I can slip in little things like, "Well, how about my name here?" or "How about my lucky number 33 on the truss-rod cover?" They've got to make each part and flip over the jigs and stuff, so I can get into it with them and have a little fun."

Check Out More Gibson Flying V's Here!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Marshall Super Lead Head Formerly Owned By Paul Gilbert on eBay

Here's a listing for a 1975 Marshall Super Lead 100 which, according to the seller, was formerly owned by Paul Gilbert (Item #: 320439314600). PG apparently used this amp on Racer X's Second Heat.

Extensively modded by metal amp guru Lee Jackson, this amp apparently went through several modifications -- including some by Paul's dad -- before arriving at its present state. Jackson's final mod included the addition of cascading gain stages, a tube buffered effects loop and a power attenuator on the push/pull Master volume knob.

The front panel of the amp also features a custom plaque -- the famous 'Mel Bay Rocket' logo -- installed by Paul's dad. Paul's first guitar teacher used the Mel Bay guitar method which bored the six-year old Paul to tears -- so much so that he stuck with his lessons for 'only' three years.
Good luck holding a six-year old's attention for three months these days.
There is no Certificate of Authenticity but the seller promises to provide the buyer with email correspondence from Paul as documentation.
This seller also has another 50watt Marshall JMP purportedly owned by George Lynch and with a mod by Tim Caswell that was undone, returning the amp to stock. I never much cared for Lynch's tone, but you can check out the listing here.
If you buy this amp and your tone starts to resemble a swarm of mosquitoes, don't say I didn't warn you.

This seller seems to be a genuine collector but as always, caveat emptor, or as my buddy JP at Stratoblogster would say, "Due dilligence kids!"

Buy Racer X CDs Here!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Flash Review -- Pedaltrain Jr. Pedalboard

Went gear-shopping today and got my hands on a Pedaltrain pedalboard. My old canvas and cardboard Westfield pedal case is just plain worn out. The little zip tag snapped off a few months ago and I was almost breaking a nail everytime I packed my gear up.

I needed a 'board with enough real-estate to accomodate a couple of stompboxes, a wah pedal and a volume pedal and the Pedal Train Jr (PT-JR-SC) fit the bill nicely.

The Pedaltrain Jr. is also available with an ATA-approved aluminum flightcase. I went for the soft-shell variety -- it's a lot lighter and I figured I wanted to be able to feel my fingers when I arrive at a gig. The nylon shoulder-sling strap provided for the soft-case also features a solid, chunky, spring-loaded clasp.

The Pedaltrain comes with two rolls of velcro (one hook, one loop) of about a meter in length each. The 'board itself is very sturdy aluminum with industrial-welding at the joints and corners.

The sturdy construction is a nice reassurance since this thing is going to be on the floor and get kicked around -- most likely by the bassplayer, drummer, singer or a drunk audience member who insists on coming onstage to yell his request in your ear.

Pedaltrain leaves you to attach the velcro yourself. I opted for the full-velcro treatment.

Also supplied are a couple of screw-on metal brackets to attach a regulated power-supply such as the VoodooLab PedalPower to the underside of the pedalboard frame, saving you space on top for your pedals. A really nice touch.

Pedaltrain also provides a bunch of nylon cable-ties so that power or signal cables can be tied neatly together. This is good if you're bullet-proofing your 'board for that regional tour, but it would also make on the spot patch-cable swaps impossible. Remember 'ol Murphy?

I opted for Planet Waves 0.5 ft Classic patch-cables for this board. New pedalboard, new cables right?

My usual pedals for my weekly blues/rock gig are an RMC 3 Teese wah (the older one with the home-brewed milled aluminum housing), an early 80's Tubescreamer (when I need a hair more gain), an Xotic BB preamp (which is always on, with a slight bass boost), a VoodooLab MicroVibe (for a little Hendrix/Trower swirl), a Korg DT7 tuner (with Buzz Feiten tempered tuning setting) and a Boss FV50L volume pedal.

The volume pedal is the last in the chain, which allows me to tune silently as well as regulate my overall volume. I like to keep a little volume in reserve on the pedal for when the bassplayer and drummer ramp it up -- those guys have so much more dynamic range than us guitar players. I also use it as a manual noise-gate should things get out of hand.

And there we go.
I'm careful not to store the board vertically for at least a couple of days so that the adhesive on the velcro can set permanently on the aluminum frame. Storing it upright now will inevitably lead to a surprisingly sticky mess of adhesive, velcro, pedals and cables as it all peels off (been there, done that, unfortunately), so the 'board with pedals is sitting flat until I take it to my gig on Monday.

Rock and roll!

See The Pedaltrain Pedalboard Range Here

See More Xotic and VoodooLab Pedals Here

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Scott Henderson, Jeff Berlin, Dennis Chambers Trio -- A Gig Review

Last night the trio of Scott Henderson, Jeff Berlin and Dennis Chambers hit our shores, playing to a small but appreciative crowd of fusion fans.

I’ve watched Scott Henderson’s career closely from the time he was with Jeff Berlin and Vox Humana, Chick Corea’s Elektrik Band, Jean-Luc Ponty, Zawinul Syndicate, on through Tribal Tech and up to his blues guitar forays of the last 15 years or so.

But the Scott Henderson I witnessed last night was a re-invented revelation. Playing with a fury and controlled abandon rivaling vintage Jeff Beck, he propelled the band through Miles Davis’ All Blues, Billy Cobham’s Stratus, Wayne Shorter’s Fee-Fi-Fo-Fum and Coltrane’s Giant Steps in addition to the trio’s original tunes. I reckon playing all that soul-baring blues for so many years has rubbed off on his fusion style as well.

Henderson played a seafoam green Suhr strat equipped with three Fletcher/Landau single-coils into a Suhr SH100 amp and a Boss SE70 multi-effects unit for a stereo split into two rented Marshall 4x12 cabinets.

Henderson also seemed to have developed a new-found relationship with the whammy bar, using it to bend up to and from notes, giving his playing a soaring, almost vocal quality -- in fact the bar rarely left his picking hand for most of the two-hour long set. And I should mention that despite his vigorous use of the whammy bar, his Suhr guitar hardly went out of tune, requiring only minor tweaks between songs.

And I also learned something invaluable from bassist Jeff Berlin last night. He could play a cascade of notes ripping through Giant Steps and have it speak with as much authority as he would playing a simple blues line or a bass chord-melody version of Tears In Heaven (yep, that song), which he pulled off as a beautiful duet with Dennis Chambers. At the center of it all was his impeccable sense of time -- the structural foundation of his playing. And here's guy who eschews practicing with a metronome..
That same sense of timing translated perfectly to his onstage banter. (My favourite of his one-liners: “I’m a musician with a past – I never took drugs.”)

He begins a joke by setting it up perfectly with a simple premise:

“A rock bass player was about to spank his son when his wife intervenes. “Why are you spanking your son?”, she asks.
The tone of Berlin’s voice is low, almost serious.

The rock bass player replies “Because he turned one of the tuning pegs on my bass.”
Berlin allows it to sink in, allowing the audience to soak it up.

“So why don’t you just retune it?” she asks.
At the absolute perfect moment, he delivers the punchline like Joe Frazier flooring an opponent.

The rock bass player replies, “Because he won’t tell me which tuning peg he turned!”
Jeff Berlin could easily carve out a career in stand-up comedy. And I mean that in the most respectful way. He has got to be one of the most engaging human beings alive.

After the show, when most of the fans had left, I could only put in about 5 minutes with Scott Henderson. I actually had a bunch of questions I had put together, on the off-chance that I would be able to interview him for this article.

He looked really tired. And no matter how great your sidemen are, the guitar player in a trio format always has to go the extra mile or three to make things interesting.

I told him about how I had seen him play at La Ve Lee’s with Dave Carpenter, Scott Kinsey and Joe LaBarbara in 1998. Scott talked about the closing of that club due to a structural defect in the building’s roof. I could tell he missed the place, having held a weekly residency there for a number of years. La Ve Lee had become the ultimate musician's hang for LA's session elite as well as for the many GIT students that passed through year after year. And he grew somber when he mentioned bassist Dave Carpenter’s passing in 2008.

It wasn’t long before the trio was hustled back into the empty auditorium by the organizers and out the backstage door where their transport back to their hotel awaited.

Kudos to Heads Up for pulling this gig together!

Buy Scott Henderson CDs and DVDs Here!

The complete home study jazz guitar course

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

1964 Fender Stratocaster On eBay, Formerly Owned By Richie Sambora

Here's an eBay listing for a 1964 Fender Stratocaster, in Sonic Blue no less. (Item #: 180416686465). The seller is the very reputable Norm's Rare Guitars of Tarzana, CA.

This Strat used to be owned by Bon Jovi guitarist Richie Sambora who purchased it a few years ago from Norm's and recently traded it in for a 1954 model.

Apparently, Sambora modified this particular guitar with a 5-way switch, replacing the stock 3-way, which means he actually bought it to play it -- always a good thing. I wonder if he tours with his vintage guitars.

Birthday Salute and Quintessential Solo #5 | Martin Taylor OBE

Born 20th October 1956 in Essex, England, Martin Taylor was a child prodigy who was gigging professionally as a jazz guitarist by the time he was 12.

In 1979 at age 23, Taylor had landed a dream gig with jazz violin legend Stephane Grappelli. Grapelli was co-leader of Le Quintet du Hot Club de France in the 30's and 40's with none other than Django Reinhardt.

Playing with Grappelli exposed Taylor to an international audience as they played every major jazz festival around the world, helping to establish him as an artist in his own right.
In this vid Taylor pulls off a moving rendition of Hoagy Carmichael's Georgia On My Mind -- a quintessential solo in the truest sense.

Playing a Yamaha AEX1500 -- Taylor has been a Yamaha endorsee for several years now -- Taylor creates a very pianistic sound with his fingerstyle technique, tastefully reharmonizing the changes as they move along. (Notice, also, his pinky planted firmly on the pickguard -- something which he personally advises students not to do!)

In 2002, Martin Taylor was made a Member of the Order of the British Empire for Services to Jazz Music -- the first jazz guitarist to receive the honor.

See More Of Martin Taylor's CDs and DVDs Here!

The complete home study jazz guitar course

Monday, October 19, 2009

Eric Johnson's Sideman Gig With Carole King

Reading Stratoblogster's recent post about Eric Johnson using a Les Paul reminded of this Carole King vid from the early '80s.

Eric Johnson appeared on Carole's One To One album in 1982 where he was featured on both piano and guitar. He also toured with her in Europe in April that same year.

A Les Paul player in his early days, Eric had this to say in an interview from 1986:

"I played a Les Paul a lot when I was in the Electromagnets, and after that band, I started playing more rhythm and lead at the same time. I just found that the single-coil pickups lent themselves more for doing rhythm and lead tones, whereas a Les Paul actually had a better lead tone, but the rhythm tone was a bit dark and muffled. I sold that Les Paul. I wish I still had it."

In the first clip above, Eric plays an extended jazz-tinged solo beginning at 2:48. Note the Wes Montgomery-style octaves and the fat-bodied tone he gets out of his Les Paul.

Embedding for the second YouTube vid has been disabled but you can follow the link here:

Check out Eric's solo spots at 1:26, 4:05 and 6:21.

We get a good glimpse at Eric's stage of stylistic development as it was in 1982 -- he's not as polished a player as he is now, but the tone and the technical hallmarks of his playing are nearly fully formed.

And you gotta love that vibrato!

Check Out More Eric Johnson CDs and DVDs Here! The complete home study jazz guitar course

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Birthday Salute -- Chuck Berry

Born 18th October 1926, Charles Edward Anderson 'Chuck' Berry's career started in the early 50's with an informal group he had put together with pianist Johnny Johnson and drummer Ebby Harding.

Playing at neighbourhood parties and barbeques, Berry held a day-job as a hairdresser to support his wife and two children.

It was a trip to Chicago and a chance meeting with blues legend Muddy Waters that led him to Leonard Chess. Seeing that Chess Records was a blues label, Berry put together a demo with a slow blues he called 'Wee Wee Hours'. But it was the other tune on his demo, 'Maybelline', that caught Leonard Chess' ear. Chess immediately recognized the radio airplay potential of Berry's highly original brand of raucous rock 'n roll.

'Maybelline' became Chuck's breakout hit. It also changed the course of Chess Records, transforming it from a small blues label to a hugely successful rock 'n roll corporate machine.

More importantly, 'Maybelline' became the unifying anthem that reached out to both black and white audiences -- something unheard of in 1955 -- establishing rock 'n roll as a genre that transcended long-held social and cultural barriers.

Chuck Berry had single-handedly paved the way for the likes of Little Richard, Carl Perkins, Gene Vincent, Jerry Lee Lewis and Elvis Presley.

Check Out More Chuck Berry CDs Here!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Birthday Salute and Quintessential Solo #4 | Barney Kessel

Born 17th October 1923, jazz guitar icon Barney Kessel's credentials are staggering.

Having recorded with jazz luminaries such as Lester Young, Charlie Parker and Sonny Rollins in the 40's and 50's, Kessel became a top-gun LA session guitarist in the 60's and appeared on many a Phil Spector-produced hit record.

Kessel was also a member of the Oscar Peterson Trio and a founding member of the Great Guitars that included Joe Pass, Herb Ellis, Tal Farlow and Charlie Byrd.

In this clip, Kessel's take on the Jimmy Van Heusen classic Here's That Rainy Day begins with his trade mark unaccompanied chord-melody style. Reharmonizing the melody with moving inner lines and chromatic devices, Kessel's chord solo is reminiscent of a lush orchestral string arrangement.

Check out also his guitar intro on his landmark recording with Julie London -- from his Columbia days as LA session man -- on Cry Me A River. Absolutely stunning.

Buy Barney Kessel CDs Here! The complete home study jazz guitar course

Friday, October 16, 2009

Birthday Salute and Quintessential Solo #3 -- John Mayer

Born 16th October 1977, John Mayer is one of those guys 'serious' musicians love to hate.

With a writing and singing style resembling an intraveneous feed into the very heart of pop radio, the man is a songwriting machine with a string of hits that don't seem to stop coming.

But dig a little deeper into his music and you'll hear a musician with a deep understanding of the blues guitar tradition. His playing is often compared to his idol, Stevie Ray Vaughan, but listen further and you'll hear shadings of Freddie King, T-Bone Walker and Albert King. With a little BB thrown in for good measure.

And what is really remarkable is how Mayer sneaks his guitar influences into his radio-friendly songs, weaving them around his vocals like a second voice -- in essence, representing his blues roots to his wide audience.

In this vid, Mayer shows us that he is not all just pop and fluff. He shows us what he's really capable of, with just a Stratocaster in hand.

Performing live at the Michael Jackson Memorial on 7th July 2009, Mayer performs a moving unaccompanied version of the Jackson hit, Human Nature.

Addressing the plaintive melody line on the upper strings, Mayer holds down the bassline with a Johnny Smith-approved thumb-over-the-neck technique. Check out the uncanny vocal quality of his guitar tone on the first phrase.

The cry that Carlos Santana often refers to is just dripping off his fingerboard.

(As a side note, check out also Tuck Andress' stunning solo guitar version of Human Nature on YouTube)

Buy John Mayer CDs Here!


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