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P L AY B E T T E R • S O U N D B E T T E R




Inside His Fuzz

New Album





October 2018

Vol. 52 No. 10 OCTOBER 2018



{ From The Editor } EDITOR Christopher Scapelliti,
OV E R I TS ( ROUG H LY ) 120-year history, the blues has proved to be a supremely
versatile and durable musical genre. Sanctimonious purists may decry modern musi- ART EDITOR Rosie Webber,

cians who mix their blues in a cocktail of divergent musical influences, but that sort
of intermingling has played a vital role in the genre’s history. From its origins in the

Deep South, the blues spread throughout the U.S., taking root in various regions FRETS SECTION EDITOR Jimmy Leslie,

where it blossomed into such forms as Piedmont, swamp and hill country. It became
electrified in Texas and the West Coast, and in urban markets like Detroit, Chicago,

Memphis and Kansas City. By the 1960s, the blues had spread to England — where CONSULTING EDITORS Matt Blackett, Jim Campilongo,
it eventually merged with rock and roll, courtesy of guitarists like Eric Clapton, Peter Jesse Gress, Dave Hunter, Michael Ross
Green and Jimmy Page. Wherever it traveled, the music served as a pliable form that
could be shaped to serve the expression of those who played it. MUSIC COPYIST Elizabeth Ledgerwood

Thanks to its malleability, the blues is both diverse and pervasive, though, oddly, ADVERTISING SALES
it tends to lurk just below the radar of popular culture. Lately, however, its signal has US CHIEF REVENUE OFFICER Luke Edson
strengthened once again, thanks to a growing number of six-string practitioners. For ADVERTISING DIRECTOR Jonathan Brudner
this month’s issue, we look at a few of those players who are helping to keep it vital., (917) 281-4721

Not surprisingly, given the blues’ history, many of them are merging the genre’s tra- ADVERTISING DIRECTOR Mari Deetz, (650) 238-0344
ditional forms with other styles. ADVERTISING DIRECTOR Jason Perl

Take Gary Clark Jr., this issue’s cover artist, for example. The Austin-based gui-, (646) 723-5419

tarist came to prominence around 2011 with a singular brand of blues inflected with
ADVERTISING DIRECTOR Scott Sciacca, (646) 723-5478
rock, soul and hip-hop. Seven years later, he’s shown no sign of retreat. Clark invited
Guitar Player to hear a preview of his new album — the soon-to-be-released This To subscribe, change your address, or check on your current
Land — on which he takes his blues into a harder-rocking territory than previously. account status, go to and click on Subscribe,
“Blues is my roots,” Clark tells GP’s senior editor, Art Thompson. “But I don’t wake email, call 800-289-9839 or
write P.O. Box 2029, Langhorne, PA 19047
up and go, ‘I’m a blues guy.’” It’s thanks to his innovation that Clark’s music contin-
ues to push the genre in new directions, keeping it alive and meaningful. LIST RENTAL
For information on mailing list rental, call Merit Direct at
Guitarist Samantha Fish, on the other hand, is a stylistic rolling stone who’s 913-685-1301, or email Jane Long at
woven a path from Delta blues to traditional blues-rock to hill country blues. She’s
also revealed her range by delving into classic soul and Americana, and even cov- This magazine is available for research and retrieval of
ered tunes by Screamin’ Jay Hawkins and Black Sabbath. As contributor Jim Beaugez select archived articles from leading electronic database

discovers when he interviewed Fish for this month’s issue, her musical beginnings and search services, including ProQuest. For microform
availability, contact National Archive Publishing Company,
were, as she says, “all over the map”; it was only through the blues that it all came 800-521-0600, or search the Serials in Microform listings
together for her. at Back issues are available. For more
information, contact
The blues was most certainly a salve for Rick Springfield, another of our fea-
tured artists. Though you may know him best for his 1981 pop hit “Jessie’s Girl,” REPRINTS/PERMISSIONS
Springfield has been a prolific recording artist over the years. Yet he never explored This magazine may not be reproduced or quoted
in whole or in part by printed or electronic means without
the blues until his new album, The Snake King, where the genre provided an emo- written permission from Future. To obtain permissions,
tional bed for his concerns about the current state of the world. Springfield stands contact Wright’s Media, 877-652-5295.

in stark contrast to blues-rock stalwart Kim Simmonds. As the leader of England’s

Savoy Brown for the past 53 years, Simmonds has kept the band’s brand of hard-
rocking blues vibrant and vital. In a spirited interview with Michael Molenda, Sim-
monds reveals how a faithful crew of influential musical companions have helped
him stay true to his musical vision. MANAGING DIRECTOR: Julian March

If there’s one thing the artists in this issue demonstrate it’s that the blues is alive CHIEF OPERATIONS OFFICER: Aaron Asadi
and well. And, as long as we’re in this crazy world, chances are excellent that the COMMERCIAL FINANCE DIRECTOR: Dan Jotcham
blues will be here too — in all its diversity — giving expression to our unique stories.
28 East 28th Street, 12th Floor, New York, NY 10016
COPYRIGHT 2018, Future PLC. All Rights Reserved.

Future plc is a public Chief executive Zillah Byng-Thorne

company quoted on the Non-executive chairman Richard Huntingford
London Stock Exchange Chief financial officer Penny Ladkin-Brand
(symbol: FUTR) Tel +44 (0)1225 442 244

6 OCTOBER 20 1 8 G U I T A R P L A Y E R . C O M




36 18 26 30
Gary Clark Jr. Sweetwater GearFest 2018 Marcus King Classic Gear
1955 D’Angelico New Yorker
Samantha Fish 22 28 31
Bros. Landreth Three Classic Setups for Tech Support
48 Acoustic Guitar Mic’ing How to Build a Virtual
Rick Springfield QUICK TIPS Blues Club Room
52 32
10 Blues Giants
Kim Simmonds The Foley Files
Share Technique
Debbie Davies
Vinyl Treasures
Sister Sparrow Hank Garland, Jazz Winds
from a New Direction

Whack Job
1998 Italia Monza


Cover Photo by Frank Maddocks


Guitar Player (ISSN 0017-5463) is published monthly with an extra issue in December by Future, 28 East 28th Street, 12th floor, New York, NY 10016. Periodicals
postage paid at New York, NY, and at additional mailing offices. Canada Post: Publications Mail Agreement #40612608. Canada Returns to be sent to Bleuchip
International, P.O. Box 25542, London, ON N6C 6B2. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to Guitar Player, P.O. Box 2029, Langhorne, PA 19047-9957.

10 OCTOBER 20 1 8 G U I T A R P L A Y E R . C O M

94 58 80 14
Ben Harper Beyond the Box Supro 1695RTH Black Raid Dana’s Gear Stash for
Magick Reverb a SviSound Optical Phaser
100 64 Techno-FA, and get the
Seven Tips For A Successful How to Embellish Pentatonic 82 scoop on the best new gear
Solo Acoustic Gig and Blues-Scale Licks Hamer Sunburst Flat Top from Summer NAMM 2018.
and Monaco Special K
Fishman Matrix 70 84 114
Infinity Mic Blend Echopark Detroit Gold Rose IK Multimedia iRig Stomp I/O Susan Tedeschi

74 86
Yucatán Jam Jacques Bête Noire
Scan Distortion

Electro-Harmonix Oceans 11

Bose S1 Pro Multi-
Position P.A. System

FOR CUSTOM REPRINTS & E-PRINTS PLEASE CONTACT Wright’s Media : (877) 652-5295 or LIST RENTAL: (914) 368-1024,
GUITAR PLAYER, Box 2029, Langhorne, PA 19047-9957, or (800) 289-9839, or send an email to, or click to subscriber sevices at
BACK ISSUES are available for $10 each by calling (800) 289-9839 or by contacting Guitar Player is a registered trademark of Future.
All material published in Guitar Player is copyrighted © 2018 by Future. All rights reserved. Reproduction of material appearing in Guitar Player is prohibited without written per-
mission. Publisher assumes no responsibility for return of unsolicited manuscripts, photos, or artwork. All product information is subject to change; publisher assumes no
responsibility for such changes. All listed model numbers and product names are manufacturers’ registered trademarks. Published in teh U.S.A.

12 OCTOBER 20 1 8 G U I T A R P L A Y E R . C O M

Now for something completely fresh! I present to you SHARE TIPS AND TECHNIQUES.

the Optical Phaser Techno-FA, generously contributed SUBSCRIBE TO OUR E-NEWSLETTER.

by Mark Svirkov of SviSound. Don’t be fooled by its com-

pact stature — this versatile stomp box offers flexible modulation with controls for freq, range,
bright and depth, as well as a button to select between two- and four-stage operation. Its
metal casing and blue-green lighted indicators give the Optical Phaser Techno-FA a cool indus- TWITTER.COM/GUITARPLAYERNOW
trial vibe. You can find out more about SVI Sound’s available wares at GUITARPLAYER.COM
For a chance to get this pedal on your board, send an email with “SVI Sound” in the sub-
ject line to One lucky winner will be chosen at random. CHRISTOPHER SCAPELLITI
Please note that all contest gear is “as is.” This is simply a fun way to spoil our loyal readers. Editor
Deadline for entries is October 20. Good luck! — D A N A P A R K E R

Because Who Doesn’t ART THOMPSON

Senior Editor

Need More Gear?

Created by the editors of Guitar Player, the brand-

new Ultimate Gear Guide is your complete source
Los Angeles Editor
for the latest musical equipment. The guide covers
a huge range of products, including electric and
acoustic guitars and basses, amps and cabs, key-
boards, effects, live and studio equipment, acces-
sories — even banjos, mandolins, resonators and
Frets Editor
ukuleles. Every product is shown in full-color glory
with descriptions and links to find out more. Dis-
cover the latest and greatest musical equipment
for you and all your bandmates.
Available on newsstands and digital platforms now! DAVE HUNTER
Gear Section & Video Contributor

Peer Comment
H IG H ON THE PRO G Production Editor
Thanks for your Prog issue and interview with Tosin
Abasi [Sept 2018]. I grew up with classic prog rock
thanks to my Dad. Because of that, for years I was
pretty stubborn about who I’d listen to — mostly music ROSIE WEBBER
written before I was even born. All that changed when Art Editor
I heard players like Tosin and Misha Mansoor. They
woke me up to the fact that prog is still alive, well
and evolving, thanks to the monster chops they’re
bringing to the game. I encourage everyone who
loves classic-era prog to listen to what the new gen-
eration is doing and how they’re keeping the music
alive and vital today. — D Y L A N W E S T E R M A N N

14 OCTOBER 20 1 8 G U I T A R P L A Y E R . C O M

New Gear
Check out these 10 hot picks from Summer NAMM 2018

Fender Boss Martin NUX Epiphone

Albert Hammond WL Series D28 Bigsby Mighty Lite BT Joe Pass
Jr. Stratocaster Wireless Systems $3,999 $99 Emperor-II Pro
$874.99 Prices Vary The D28 Bigsby pays trib- This three-watt porta- $499.99 street
The Strokes guitarist’s The WL wireless systems ute to the guitar Merle ble guitar amp has three The Joe Pass Emperor-
signature model offers find the optimum connec- Travis made famous in channels (clean, overdrive II Pro has hand-scal-
his customized pickup tion when the transmitter the late ‘40s. Built on and distortion), digital loped bracing, Epiphone’s
switching configura- and receiver are docked, the foundation of a rei- reverb and delay, auxil- ProBucker humbuckers
tion: position four acti- and the rechargeable bat- magined D28 (2017), it iary line in and Bluetooth with coil splitting, Graph-
vates the neck and bridge tery provides 12 hours features East Indian rose- connection — as well as tech NuBone XL nut and
pickups, while one and continuous use. The series wood and a maple high- built-in drums and met- Grover Rotomatic tuners.
three are reversed from includes the WL-20L performance taper neck ronome. A mobile app It has a 24.75-inch scale
the traditional layout. ($179.99), the WL-20 with Bigsby headstock. (Android/iOS) provides length, 20 medium-jumbo
Other features include with cable tone simula- The interior label is num- additional effects and frets, gold hardware and
a large ‘70s-style head- tion ($179.99), and the bered and signed by features. The amp can a fingerboard radius of 12
stock, bullet truss-rod nut, WL-50 for pedalboards Chris Martin IV and Fred be powered by battery or inches and comes in Vin-
three-bolt “F”-stamped ($199.99). The WL-T Gretsch. USB and includes a head- tage Natural, Vintage
neck plate with period- transmitter ($99.99) can phone jack. Sunburst and Wine Red
correct Micro-Tilt adjust- be purchased as a spare. finishes.
ment and retro logo.

16 OCTOBER 20 1 8 G U I T A R P L A Y E R . C O M

Vox Walrus Audio Taylor Guitars Yamaha Xotic

AC30S1 Emissary Parallel Builder’s CSF1 & CSF3 Parlor California
$990 Boost Edition 614ce Acoustic Guitars Classic XTC Series
The AC30S1 is based $169 $3,999 Prices Vary Prices Vary
on the Top Boost chan- This two-in-one boost The Builder’s Edition After 15 years, Yamaha XTC series guitars come
nel of the original AC30 features “bright” and 614ce Grand Auditorium has revived and upgraded with an ash or alder body
but does away with the “mid” circuits with indi- has a maple/torrefied its CSF models. The CSF1 with options for light,
multiple inputs, tone cut vidual volume controls. spruce body, back and ($645) has a solid Sitka medium, heavy or super
and tremolo circuit of the The “bright” boost deliv- sides of figured big-leaf spruce top, laminated heavy aging. The modern
original. The 1x12 all-tube ers a clean, high-head- maple and Taylor’s much- mahogany back and C-shaped neck is roasted
combo features a single room JFET boost, with a lauded V-Class bracing sides, nato neck, black- flame maple with 5A and
input, effect loop, and slight emphasis on higher system. Other features wood fingerboard and Master Grade options
controls for gain, volume, frequencies — while the include a double-carved bridge — plus Yamaha’s and has a fingerboard
treble and bass. “mid” circuit targets either cutaway, Silent Satin SRT Zero Impact pas- of roasted flame maple 1kHz or 800Hz, selectable finish and Taylor ES2 elec- sive pickup system. The or Indian rosewood with
by the toggle switch. The tronics. Plus, the guitar CSF3 ($880) adds solid a radius of 9.5 or 12 inches.
bypass switch also has a ships in a deluxe hard- mahogany back and sides
momentary function. shell case. and mahogany body binding.

G U I T A R P L A Y E R . C O M OCTOBER 2 018 17

Indiana Jonesing
Guitarists hit Fort Wayne to satisfy their craving for the latest gear and
the greatest ax legends at Sweetwater’s GearFest 2018.
B Y D A V I D B R E W S T E R ´

W H E R E C A N Y O U catch Larry Carlton, event combines the latest and greatest musi- under spacious and waterproof tents, as well
Adrian Belew, Yngwie Malmsteen, Paul Reed cal equipment and products from countless as a flea market of used gear and “open-box”
Smith, Nita Strauss and many other industry manufacturers with workshops, presentations equipment at radically reduced prices. A gen-
legends, all in one go? They were among the and clinics — all hosted by an impressive roster erous number of food trucks were on hand,
participants at Sweetwater’s GearFest 2018, of talent, including modern musicians and along with free bottled water, to keep attend-
held this past June 22 and 23 on the music industry legends. As always, this year’s activ- ees fed and happy throughout the activities.
retail giant’s campus in Fort Wayne, Indiana. ities included workshops and performances Perhaps the biggest thrills were reserved
Now in its 17th year, GearFest has grown inside Sweetwater’s massive indoor campus, for Sweetwater’s massive 24,000-square-
into a truly educational and entertaining but much of the action took place outdoors. foot Pavilion performance stage and seating
experience. The annual two-day music trade Guests enjoyed booths and exhibits housed area, where a number of live performances

18 OCTOBER 20 1 8 G U I T A R P L A Y E R . C O M
CLOCKWISE FROM LEFT: Mike Stanley, Nick Bowcott, Nita Strauss, Josh Villalta and Mike Orrigo take a bow; Strauss jams; Greg Koch per-
forms; Adrian Belew plays at his “Power Trio Clinic”

and workshops were held during both days of of musical styles and instruments. demonstrations combined live performance
the show. The venue hosts high-profile acts and The first day’s events included Greg Koch’s and general instruction with informative Q&As,
national touring artists throughout the year and “Guitar Pickups and Amplification” seminar, where attendees could dig deeper into the
can hold up to 3,500 people. Mark Halcomb’s “Achieving Great Tone on the minds of their favorite musicians, such as studio
Road” workshop and Adrian Belew’s “Power guitar legend Larry Carlton. Hosted by Sweet-
G EA RE D U P Trio Clinic.” Each of these one-hour sessions water’s Mitch Gallagher and held in the com-
The gear tents numbered more than 20 and allowed time for plenty of interaction between pany’s luxurious indoor Performance Theater,
were arranged by instrument — which was good presenters and participants. The day closed Carlton’s revealing session saw him answer a
news for guitarists, who didn’t have to com- with a double-billed live performance featur- range of questions — compiled by Sweetwater
pete for volume with drummers, vocalists, key- ing Chicago’s Little Kids Rock All-City Modern via the internet — about his lengthy and exten-
boardists or other musicians and instruments. Band and the Sweetwater All-Stars, a nine- sive music career. The guitarist also found time
Indoors, Sweetwater offered plenty of addi- piece group made up of the retailer’s talented to take additional queries from the audience
tional presentations, ranging from workshops employees. The concert was sprinkled with a during the presentation. Carlton gave the crowd
and clinics in traditional classrooms to events number of special guest artists, including Paul cogent and lucid advice, including the gem: “You
held in the company’s state-of-the-art recording Reed Smith, who performed a number of songs won’t run out of ideas if you play less” — one of
studio as well as in performance halls and con- during the set. the many examples of useful information and
ference areas. Every session revealed an array of instruction passed around Sweetwater’s prop-
inspiring and notable talents who shared knowl- TO P P IC KS erty on both days of the festival. Needless to
edge on a variety of subjects covering a range The majority of workshops and product say, there were plenty of performers to watch,

G U I T A R P L A Y E R . C O M OCTOBER 2 018 19

CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT: Larry Carlton’s Q&A; Yngwie Malmsteen shreds; Nick Bowcott and Nita Strauss perform Pantera’s “Walk”;
inside the Sweetwater Pavilion; Strauss performs at her clinic

a ton of gear to demo and much to please the fame) and presented by Fender, Malmsteen’s bandmate — the late Dimebag Darrell. The
senses — but there were also plenty of oppor- finale gave attendees a taste of his neoclas- crowd roared its approval at this beyond-fit-
tunities for attendees to learn more about their sical shred mastery and provided additional ting tribute to the fallen metal legends. The
artistry and craft. insights into the guitarist’s music career, prac- performance reportedly took place without
The second day delivered another full sched- tice habits, influences and more. rehearsal, and it proved to be one of the fes-
ule of workshops and live performances that tival’s highlights.
showcased an entirely different selection of SW E ETWATE R SALUTE By anyone’s estimation, GearFest 2018
musicians and sessions. This included Act of Sadly, the festivities coincided with the death was a hugely successful celebration of music,
Defiance guitarist Chris Broderick’s “Mindful of legendary Pantera drummer Vinnie Paul musicians and gear. More than 15,000 people
Practice” clinic, John Scofield and Peter Ers- Abbott, who passed away at his home in Las attended, including visitors from all 50 states
kine’s “Inside the Groove” session and Alice Vegas on June 22. News of his demise filtered and beyond — even as far as Japan. Sweetwa-
Cooper guitarist Nita Strauss’s “Tips and through the crowd on the first night of GearFest. ter’s GearFest has established itself as one of
Insights” workshop. But without a doubt, the The next day, during an emotional dedication the summer’s premier music events. Prepara-
highlight of the day was the event-closing live and live performance, Bowcott joined forces tions are already underway for GearFest 2019,
performance and Q&A session with shred- with Strauss at the end of her clinic for a brutal which will take place next June 21 and 22. Visit
guitar legend Yngwie Malmsteen. Hosted by rendition of Pantera’s “Walk,” which was dedi- to stay up to date
Sweetwater’s Nick Bowcott (of Grim Reaper cated to Vinnie and his brother — and onetime on the latest developments.

20 OCTOBER 20 1 8 G U I T A R P L A Y E R . C O M

Collaborative Sonics
Joey Landreth tailors his guitar tone to his songs

CA NA DA’S B ROS. L A N D R ETH were a high- four of them massed together in some kind of soup. How would you say that your guitar sound
light of Joe Bonamassa’s Blues Cruise IV this past Then I met Champagne James Robertson at informs your songwriting?
March, playing an amalgam of roots, folk country a Canadian festival. He’s a great slide player who I’ll give you an example. I have a tune that explores
and blues. The Juno Award–winners stopped cruis- plays in open C. We stayed up late one night jam- the idea of forgiveness in an adult way — what it
ers dead in their tracks with soulful vocals, impas- ming, and when he passed me his guitar, I noticed means to let go — and the sound has to match
sioned songs and some absolutely fearsome slides, it had super-fat strings. He puts baritone strings the content. It doesn’t make sense to have bright
courtesy of Joey Landreth, who cofounded the on a standard-scale guitar. I was so impressed chord changes on a dark song. But even acknowl-
band with his bassist brother David in 2013. Joey that I had a friend build me a ramshackle, Cooder- edging that I want to tailor the sound of a song to
sat down with GP to share the secrets behind his caster-style guitar with gold-foil pickups. I called its mood, I’d still typically plug into my amp and
seductive slide tone and its role in his songwriting. James and asked, “Hey, would it piss you off if I pedal board and go for my usual tone.
put bari strings on my guitar and tried that open But the guy I’m collaborating with is not a
Your slide tone is really fiery and compel- C tuning?” He said, “Go for it. I’m not the first guy guitar player. He’s a songwriter who plays drums
ling. What kinds of things inspired your ap- to do it.” It became something I really connected and piano, and he doesn’t have any of those hang-
proach? with. I love that stout, fat sound, and open C is also ups that guitarists have. I’ll say something like, “Oh,
We listened to a lot of Sonny Landreth at home, pretty nice to sing in. I always go through my 1960 Fender brownface
and I avoided slide for a long time because of him. Super that I just adore, or maybe my Two-Rock
He’s a phenomenal player, and he has the same last So that’s your sonic foundation at the mo- TS1 for this sound.” He’ll counter with, “Um, I really
name, so why would I ever try? [The Bros. Landreth ment? need a bad guitar sound for this song, so don’t use
are indirectly related to Sonny, who played on their Oh, yeah. Every guitar that walks into my life gets one of your good amps.” It’s fun and interesting to
father Wally’s recordings in the early ’90s.] Then I the treatment with baritone strings and open C explore sounds like that and to work with some-
heard Derek Trucks, and I was like, “Wow! I want to tuning. Some guitars don’t like it. I have a Suhr one who isn’t wrapped up in all that guitar player
try that so bad.” The other slide players who are my Classic Antique that actually likes to be in open shIt about what makes a good tone. It should be
go-to faves are Ry Cooder and Bonnie Raitt. At the D, but my main guitars live in that C tuning. I also about the most appropriate tone that brings alive
best of times, I’m doing a crappy impression of the have a Collings I-35. the things your song is communicating.

22 OCTOBER 20 1 8 G U I T A R P L A Y E R . C O M

Get Your Mojo Workin’

10 Blues Guitar Giants Share the Magic
Behind Their Six-String Technique

P L AY I N G B L U E S G U I TA R wrist, but with the fingers hold- that some things you played in
is as much about attitude as it ing the pick.” rehearsal don’t make any sense
is technique. If you’re suffering because you fooled around too

in either department, put some much with the frilly stuff and forgot
power back into your playing the basic drive of the song. Play-
with this advice from blues guitar ing live also teaches you to deal

heroes of the past and present. with situations like dropping your
pick or breaking a string — as well
as forcing you to project.” HUB E RT SUMLIN
“Take a note from me, put it with
BO N N IE RA ITT your own notes, and make it you.”
“Incorporate the feel of what some-
one plays into your style, rather
than the actual notes. You just

want to nail the emotion of how

STEV I E RAY VAUGH A N an artist’s singing and playing is
“Your sound is in your hands as making you feel, and how those feel-
much as anything. It’s the way ings transform your own playing.” E R IC JOHNSON
you pick and the way you hold the “Remind yourself that you’re free
guitar, more than it is the amp or to feel great instead of reserved or JOHN LE E HOOK E R
the guitar you use.” insecure. When you’re feeling good, “Forget about the fancy chords and
you’re more apt to take chances just concentrate on a funky beat.”

onstage, and if you make a bunch

of mistakes, it won’t matter. It’s
almost like you’re the instrument,
and the music is flowing through
JAC K WH ITE you like electricity.”
“If you want to keep things raw,
try limiting yourself to only two
ROY B UC HA NA N guitars on a track.”
“Use circle picking to play faster. JE FF B ECK
Start by playing with your pick “Overindulgence in anything is
at an angle. Hit the string with wrong — whether it’s practicing
one edge of the pick and you’ll 50 hours a day or eating too much
find that you’re in position to food. I’ve tried to keep it so that

come back on the upstroke with RY COODE R  I’m able to execute the ideas that
the opposite edge. Then, alter- “Play a new thing every day. Learn- come out, but practicing too much
nate pick with a rotating motion ing one new passing chord, or a depresses me. I get good speed,
in either a clockwise or counter- RO RY GA L L AGH E R note combination, will get you but then I start playing nonsense
clockwise circle. The pick, while “You must perform for an audi- moving towards something that because I’m not thinking. A good
not changing its angle in relation ence, because the real crunch will serve you later on. Someday, layoff makes me think a lot. It helps
to the string, is circling that area happens when you get in front a song will come along that all of me get both things together —
of the string. It’s not done with the of people. You may discover those things will relate to.” the creativity and the speed.”

G U I T A R P L A Y E R . C O M OCTOBER 2 018 23

What identifies an arrangement as

“not working?”
Sister Sparrow: It’s usually that something
will irk me during a performance. Then I’m
like, “We have to go back and workshop

Sister Sparrow’s Brood this song again.”

Bill: The refinements to our songs come
from playing 200 to 250 shows a year.
For example, we might change one horn
line per show to refresh things, and after
ANYONE WHO’S WRITTEN a song knows exciting mix without clashing or obscuring a few months of doing that the song will
the process doesn’t always end with one another. GP caught up with the Sister morph into something different. Hope-
lyrics, melody and harmony. Arranging a Sparrow and the Dirty Birds to discover fully, something better. [laughs]
composition — refining and developing how the flock achieve synchronization. Jackson: It seems like we’re always onstage,
its musical parts, grooves and vibes — so we have plenty of time to assess audi-
to maximize the tune’s seductiveness is Seven creative people is a lot to wrangle. ence reactions to a song or whether the
essential. Doing this in collaboration with How do you do it? band is digging something or not.
others can lead to creative boondoggles Sister Sparrow: I don’t think there are any Sister Sparrow: If I start not liking some-
and bruised egos. rules to it. I typically write the songs and thing, I won’t put that song on the set
So, imagine doing it with six musical bring them to the band and we arrange list for a while. That’s the clue to the rest
co-conspirators, as Sister Sparrow — a.k.a. the songs together. Everybody chimes in of the band that I’m not feeling that one
Arleigh Kincheloe — does when she brings with what they like and what they don’t anymore.
her songs to the Dirty Birds, the artist’s like, so it’s kind of trial and error until we
brass-fueled backing group that includes reach common ground. We’re all passion- How do you arrange parts in such a dense
her brother Jackson on harmonica, gui- ate about this music, so we’ll fight for our band?
tarist Mark Marshall, bassist Josh Meyers, ideas, and the debates help us see what Jackson: [laughs] That didn’t come easily.
drummer Dan Boyden, trumpet player Phil is really best for the song. When we first started playing, all of the
Rodriguez and saxophonist Brian Graham. Phil: We’re pretty democratic, to the point sonic space was taken up all of the time.
It seems a miracle that anything gets done. where it can sometimes take a year before It was Josh who helped us figure out
Yet, somehow the group manages to we realize an arrangement is not quite that all don’t all need to be playing at
fit all the elements into a cohesive and working with a song. the same time.
Mark: It’s an interesting guitar situation,
because there are moments when the
guitar has to be really big and wide, and
other moments where it has to be refined
and small — like two- or three-note chord
voicings — to fit in with the horns and
leave space for the vocals.

What’s the main challenge to getting new

music out there?
Sister Sparrow: I try not to get too bent
out of shape about music being free, what
with streaming and all that stuff. That’s
just how it works now. I can only hope that
people will hear our songs, come out to
the shows and maybe buy a CD at the gig.
Jackson: It’s too hard to think about not
being fairly compensated for your songs.
I just focus on the fact that I get to play
harmonica every day and get paid for it —
which is amazing. Every day is a great day.

Sister Sparrow drops her new album, Gold,

Sister Sparrow, a.k.a. Arleigh Kincheloe on October 12

24 OCTOBER 20 1 8 G U I T A R P L A Y E R . C O M

Blues by the Numbers

For Marcus King, the performance begins with the set list

W E I D E N T I F I E D M A R C U S King as a
“person of extreme interest” long before he
cracked his 20s. We even put him on the cover
of our September 2017 issue.
Now just 22 years old, King is already a
veteran of the road and a leading flag bearer
for modern blues and blues rock. He sings
like an old soul with demons on his tail and
gets colossal tones from his grandfather’s ’62
Gibson ES-345. No less than Warren Haynes
— who produced King’s most recent album,
The Marcus King Band (Fantasy Records) —
calls him “the first young player I’ve heard
since Derek Trucks who plays with such soul
and emotional maturity.” We caught up with
the blues guitar phenom to find out how he
works his magic onstage.

What’s your most surprising method for

achieving stunning live performances?
I never write the set list the night before. I just
can’t do it, especially if I haven’t seen the venue
or know what kind of fan base to expect. We
like to walk around and feel the town out —
see what kind of vibe the audience is going
to bring to us. For festival sets, I like to know Is it difficult to keep the band growing guitar players pretty consciously for a couple
how the band performs right before us. If they and evolving when you’re on the road of years. I made the decision that I didn’t want
just ripped everybody’s faces off, then we’re so much? to sound like Stevie Ray Vaughan or any of
going to start with something a little more laid It can be a chore, but wherever we’re tour- my heroes. Instead, I checked out Coltrane,
back and not try to immediately match that ing in our van, we keep the music we listen to Miles Davis, a lot of organ players and lots of
energy level. I’m always writing the set list in pretty open so that we can be inspired by dif- vocalists. I always wanted to emulate Janis
the dressing room just before we hit the stage. ferent things. We all really love Wu-Tang Clan Joplin’s screech through an amplifier, so that
as well as new artists such as [U.S. folk singer- started my search for a unique guitar tone. I
How much do you amend your studio songwriter] Margaret Glaspy and [neo-soul also messed with phrasing from the styles of
arrangements for the stage? guitarist] Nick Hakim. Then I always go back Etta James, Billie Holiday, Otis Redding and
We definitely have to road test a song for about to [funk acts] Soulive, Lettuce and bands like James Brown.
a month before it actually feels done. We’re that. You never know when those road-listen- I don’t think there are necessarily any wrong
just like, “This one part is shit. We need to get ing sessions will creep into soundchecks or answers here, other than not discovering your
that out of there.” Also, some of the tunes rehearsals as new ideas. own voice. I think as long as you’re coming at
we do in the studio are kind of smooth in an it from the right mental place — which is to
almost R&B sense, and when we play them How can a guitarist seek to develop a get something out that represents yourself
live, we realize they’re dragging a bit. So we’ll unique and individual live sound? purely — then every choice you make is prob-
push the tempo or rough it up. When I was a lot younger, I stopped listening to ably a good choice.

26 OCTOBER 20 1 8 G U I T A R P L A Y E R . C O M

Perfect Positions
Learn three classic setups for acoustic guitar mic’ing

WHEN PROPERLY MIC’D, acous- imaginable application. It has a one-

tic guitars can sound beautiful and inch dual diaphragm; a selectable
lush. Just think of those wonderful pattern (cardioid, hypercardioid,
albums recorded by the Eagles, with omnidirectional and figure-eight);
their rich acoustics melodies. Yes, a two-stage pre-attenuation pad
plug-ins can improve your results, and bass-cut filter; and a high
but there’s nothing more gratifying sound-pressure-level capability
than capturing that perfect acous- of up to 160 dB SPL.
tic guitar tone with a microphone. Figure 1: The Eagles setup Figure 2: Leo Kottke setup
The key is to record not only the Steps for the Eagles’ tone:
guitar sound but also the ambi- • Place the mic center between of the way.
ence of the room. 12th fret and the sound hole. • Turn the other sound hole mounted
Before setting up your mic and • Set it six inches away from the wheel (which is the volume) up
hitting “record,” take a few things guitar. halfway.
into consideration: • Point the mic capsule downward, • To reduce any undesirable mid-
• Your acoustic guitar’s size (jumbo, toward the bridge. range from the piezo, run the
concert, etc.) and body style (sin- undersaddle pickup’s output to
gle-cutaway, thin body, etc.). Both 2. LEO KOTTKE (FIGURE 2) a separate channel and adjust it
of which affect its tone and volume. To achieve a Leo Kottke detailed to taste. If you are using the iMix, Figure 3: Keb’ Mo setup
• Room size and treatment: Is fingerpicking style, where the notes reduce mid frequencies using its
your space large or small? Car- have great definition in the mix, Element mid-cut control. phantom power. The mic features
peted or bare? try this setup: • On the undersaddle piezo, set polar pattern, which can quickly be
• Player style: Are you a heavy the EQ to roll off the quaking mid- switched from cardioid to hyper-
strummer or a light picker? LR Baggs Mixing System range by moving the mids slider cardioid by attaching the provided
• Microphone type (condenser, Kottke used the first LR Baggs prod- down to 2. PPC 1000 Polar Pattern Converter
ribbon, etc.) and polar pattern uct, the LB6 undersaddle pickup. To • You can combine this system to the microphone capsule. There’s
(cardioid, figure-eight, etc.), both mimic his tone and capture more with any of the mics discussed also an adapter, called the PB 1000
of which affect its performance. of your acoustic’s natural sound, in this article, such as the AKG Presence Boost, which adds 3 to 5
you can add an internal mic to an 414 or the AKG C 1000, to get an dB of high-end enhancement to
Here are three sample microphone undersaddle setup using a Baggs extremely full sound. improve instrument sound clarity
setups that recreate the clas- mixing system. These include the • If you’re using this system with an and add definition.
sic acoustic guitar sounds of the Dual Source, which combines a additional mic, pan the LR Baggs
Eagles, Leo Kottke and Keb’ Mo. ribbon transducer with condenser to the right (3 o’clock) and the For a Keb’ Mo’ Tone:
mic, and the iMix, which pairs extra mic to the left (9 o’clock) • Place the mic center between
1. THE EAGLES (FIGURE 1) Baggs’ iBeam active bridgeplate for a stereo presence. the sound hole and the 15th fret.
To make strummed chords sit pickup with the Element under- • Set the mic approximately four
nicely in the mix à la the Eagles, saddle pickup. Either way, you’ll 3. K E B’ MO (FIGUR E 3) inches from guitar.
try the following mic and settings: get an incredible system that can- To achieve a Keb’ Mo’ blues-style • Angle the mic capsule toward
cels feedback and preserves your slide guitar with a nice gritty tone, the body.
AKG 414 acoustic tone’s integrity. I use the following:
The 414 is the mothership of con- You can use these setups as a
denser microphones. For more than Steps for a Leo Kottke tone: AKG C1000 S foundation for creating your own
60 years, engineers and produc- • Roll the sound hole mounted mic The AKG C 1000 S is powered by signature acoustic guitar tones
ers have used it for almost every control wheel up three-fourths a standard nine-volt battery or when recording.

28 OCTOBER 20 1 8 G U I T A R P L A Y E R . C O M



1955 D’Angelico New Yorker

R E LAT I V E LY FE W guitarists opened his own workshop — at X-bracing for optimal resonance.
have had the privilege of holding an 40 Kenmare Street, in his Little Solid flamed maple is carved to
original D’Angelico archtop guitar; Italy neighborhood. There, he create the arched back, sides


and upon close examination of a pursued a line of archtop gui- and neck.
D’Angelico instrument — like this tars inspired by the Gibson tem- Just as striking, and perhaps
1955 New Yorker — it’s easy to see plate, custom built to order and more immediately eye catch-
how the storied maker earned his featuring elaborate and indi- ing, are this guitar’s artistically
stellar reputation. From the ele- vidual detailing. With the occa- rendered appointments. They
gant carve of the woods to the sional help of just two assistants include multi-ply binding on the
decorative details (that don’t look (at most), D’Angelico catered to body’s top and back, the finger-
as over the top as they might on the elite of the jazz world, turn- board, headstock and even the
another instrument!) to the very ing out about 35 guitars a year pickguard and f-holes. There’s
feel of the thing — this is a guitar at the peak of operations, sev- also a substantial “stairstep” tra-
for which the term masterpiece eral years later. peze bridge, a preponderance of
seems barely adequate. It’s the The New Yorker is generally pearl (including the fingerboard’s
epitome of the archtop guitar from considered the flagship of the block inlays and the headstock’s
the golden years of the Jazz Age. D’Angelico line. Examples like elaborate Empire inlay), an incred-
John D’Angelico was born in this one, display a beautifully rich, ible headstock design and many
Little Italy, on Manhattan’s Lower complex tone that transports you other hallmarks of the guitar
East Side, in 1905. He studied clas- back to cigarette-hazed nights at maker’s style. Typical of the
sical violin making and learned Birdland, the Five Spot and the D’Angelicos that needed to
Italian-style flat-top guitar crafts- Royal Roost. Its body is a mas- be amplified, this instrument
manship under the mentorship of sive 18 inches wide, across the features a DeArmond Rhythm
his uncle, Raphael Ciani. Eventu- lower bout, with a single Vene- Chief pickup — highly regarded
ally, D’Angelico took over Signor tian cutaway. The fully hollow in the jazz community and a col-
Ciani’s shop and management design features an arched top lector’s item in its own right.
of its 15 employees. But, before hand carved from solid spruce with In 1955, when this example
long, the young luthier decided was made, a young James
he was more of a lone crafts- D’Aquisto would have
man than a manager. In 1932 he been three years into
his apprenticeship with
D’Angelico. Upon the
master’s death in 1964,
> Hand-carved, solid D’Aquisto took over the
spruce arched top shop and, after complet-
> Hand-carved, solid flame- ing several D’Angelico Gui-
maple back and sides tars orders, went on to build
> Multi-ply binding on instruments branded with his
body, neck, head- own name. Alongside his mentor, at one time or another — as did
stock and pickguard D’Aquisto would become another Chet Atkins before he signed with
> Art-deco “stairstep” bridge of the most-respected archtop Gretsch. The occasional rocker has
> Fully acoustic, single-cut- makers of all time. been drawn to the fold too, with
away archtop design Jazz greats Barney Kessel, Neil Young, Pete Townshend and
> Fully acoustic, single-cut- Johnny Smith, Kenny Burrell and Eric Clapton prominently wield-
away archtop design Oscar Moore played D’Angelicos ing D’Angelicos over the years.

30 OCTOBER 20 1 8 G U I T A R P L A Y E R . C O M



How to Build a Virtual Blues Club Room 

ONE OF MY most fond memories from open-
ing for blues bands (aside from Buddy Guy’s
outstanding guitar tone) is of the sound of
the club itself. These venues were often built
for hundreds — not thousands, like today’s
venues — of people; and the hard walls, min-
imalist acoustic treatment and sheer number
of high-frequency-absorbing humans resulted
in a special kind of ambience.
I had never been able to re-create this sound
with conventional digital reverbs, but once
convolution reverbs became affordable, I had
hope: All I needed was an acoustic impulse
file to provide that sound. When I couldn’t find
any, I decided it was time to go rogue and make
my own. I did it, and you can too. It may seem
daunting, but it’s easier than it sounds if you
know how to use a DAW. What’s more, the set-
tings aren’t all that critical, so take some time
to experiment. Want to make your virtual club
bigger? Simply increase the impulse’s length.
Here’s my step-by-step guide to creating
your own blues club convolution reverb:

1. First, you’ll need a white noise sample that

lasts from about one-half to one second. This
can be created from a synthesizer bundled with anomalies that resemble room acoustics. The 8. Now, create a new track for your guitar, load
your recording software, or you can download type of chorus doesn’t matter too much, but your favorite vintage amp sim sound, insert
a sample from the internet (check out https:// set the initial delay to around 15 ms and the a little spring reverb if that’s your thing, and LFO speed and width to the minimum possi- follow it with your convolution reverb plug-in.
ble (you don’t want modulation).
2 . Load the sample into your recording soft- 9. Check your convolution reverb’s documenta-
ware or digital audio editor, trim it to about 500 5 . Finally, set the mix to 50/50 delayed and tion to find out how to import an impulse, and
milliseconds, and insert an EQ plug-in followed straight sounds. Depending on your plug-in, that then load the file you just exported.
by a chorus plug-in. may require setting the mix at 50% or 100%.
Check your plug-in’s documentation. 10. Now it’s time to play. Tweak the reverb’s mix
3 . Next, filter out the sample’s low and high and other controls to create a vintage sound,
frequencies. Set a low-cut (high-pass) filter 6. Add a concave fade-out to the white noise then close your eyes. You just might feel like
with a 24 dB/octave slope to around 700 Hz, clip starting at about 300 ms (a linear fade you’ve been transported back in time and are
and a high-cut (low-pass) filter with a 24 dB/ can work too). about to hear Muddy Waters sing “No Escape
octave (or higher) slope to around 4 to 5 kHz. from the Blues.”
The slopes and frequencies aren’t too critical, 7. Bounce or export the clip so that it incor-
but these settings worked well for me. porates the effect from the signal processors Check out every Friday for
and the fade-out, and then save the rendered the latest Tip of the Week, and follow @craig_
4. Now, add chorusing to create the comb-filtering clip as a WAV or AIFF file. anderton on Twitter.

G U I T A R P L A Y E R . C O M OCTOBER 2 018 31



Debbie Davies
I WAS A LWAYS in awe and just a little jeal-
ous of Debbie Davies. Her 1993 solo debut, Pic-
ture This (Blind Pig), came out on the heels of
her time as second guitarist to the Master of the
Telecaster himself, Albert Collins, who is one of
my all-time faves. From 1988 to 1991, she was a
member of Collins’ band, the Icebreakers, and
it doesn’t get much cooler than that. Debbie is
still one of the most loved and respected mem-
bers of the blues community. She plays it right
— the way she learned from Albert and from so
many other greats that she’s shared stages with.

Looking at your history, it seems that cama-

raderie and jamming is a big part of your
musical journey.
The blues thing has always had a lot of camara-
derie, and I saw that when I was out with Albert
Collins and his friends. If you’re on the road, there
is this sense of isolation, and jamming is when
that isolation completely falls away. Debbie Davies performs with Albert Collins in this undated photo

Who are some of your favorites to play with? dream come true. I didn’t really know what exactly action was so low.
Coco Montoya, because he and I have such a his- to do to get my own thing going, and I thought,
tory, and there are actual tunes we have worked “Wow, what if I could back one of my heroes for What tuning did Albert use?
out together. I also love sitting in with [Delta a while?” So it was something I thought of, and The open tuning was an E flat minor. The A and
blues guitarists] Kenny Neal and Tab Benoit it actually happened. Pretty amazing. the D strings were changed to make it a whole
because they’re so deep into the blues. They open chord. He’d play in D, so he’d have to capo
are both very improvisational players. Albert Were you intimidated to jump in with Albert’s way up the neck. I don’t know how he bent those
Collins is my main man, though. Playing with band? strings, but he sure did.
him was an amazing time for me. What really helped was that half the band had
been on the road with Ike and Tina Turner, so How did you feel when you first started going
How did you land that gig? they were used to traveling with a mixed-gender out on your own?
Coco introduced me to Albert — he had been band. That wasn’t an issue for them, and they After I left Albert, I bought myself my first van
Albert’s drummer in the ’70s. We would go to weren’t trippin’ on it. It was not an easy thing to and was booking myself between tours with
barbecues and to Albert’s apartment, and then do, but I was so driven and ballsy that I just did it. Albert. It was a lot of work, but I was digging it.
Albert asked me to sit in with him at the San It was still a party.
Francisco Blues Fest. At the time, he was going Had you been a fan of Albert’s music before?
through some changes in his band. He was going Yeah, definitely. He was just so strong and so How do you feel about the scene right now?
to need someone to pay a chordal instrument, special as a player. When he played a flurry of It seems to be getting better. Blues does go in
and my name came up. The night before they notes, it was pretty intense. It wasn’t easy at cycles. I didn’t know how lucky I was to have
were leaving on tour, I got a call from his man- all. Everyone would sit around and try and get been out with Albert. It was such a ripe time
ager, and they offered me the gig. That was a it. I got to hold his guitar, and I’ll tell you, the for the blues.

32 OCTOBER 20 1 8 G U I T A R P L A Y E R . C O M



Hank Garland, Jazz Winds from

a New Direction
H A N K GA R L A N D WAS born in South Hank demonstrates a deep wealth of ideas
Carolina in 1930; a “natural” guitarist, by 18 well beyond his years. You’re invited in with
he recorded his classic country instrumen- a great chord solo, filled with altered and
tal, “Sugarfoot Rag.” Originally created as a dominant chord magic. It’s the kind of break
warm-up for his left hand, the recording went one can sing along to. I studied this track
on to sell more than a million copies. Hank obsessively, occasionally going back to it,
played a Byrdland guitar, a model custom- to review his genius.
built for him and Billy Byrd, taking its name Understandably, Jazz Winds from a New
from a combination of both men’s surnames. Direction inspired young George Benson to
Jazz Winds from a New Direction was play jazz guitar. But, it’s mind blowing that it
released in 1961 on Columbia Records. was made by the same guitarist who rocked
Recorded in one day., the album chroni- with Elvis Presley and supported Patsy Cline,
cles Hank’s successful leap into becoming bringing hillbilly jazz to new heights. Tragically,
a bona fide world-class jazz guitarist. The Hank was in a car accident (the same vehi-
lineup included 17-year-old whiz kid Gary cle pictured on the cover of Jazz Winds from
Burton, bassist Joe Benjamin and drummer a New Direction) at age 30, suffering brain
Joe Morello (from the Dave Brubeck Quartet). damage that prevented him from playing
Every tune on it is a guitar tour de force. guitar at his former world-class level. In 2002,
“All the Things You Are” features an impro- I emailed him telling him “thank you” — that he
vised jazz-shaped Bach counterpoint between raised the bar for all of us guitarists — and
Hank and Burton and “Three-Four, the Blues” his sister wrote back to me, with a charm-
kicks off with a wonderful unison line, pro- ing reply that was lost when my computer
pelling into a reverb-laden Garland solo. crashed. She said that she’d read my email
“Move” features Hank ripping effortlessly to Hank and it had brought tears to his eyes.
over jazz blues changes, exhibiting spec- I can’t really describe my feelings about this.
tacular dexterity and a deep jazz vocabu- Maybe trying to get to the musical heights
lary. On ”Always,” he plays acoustic guitar of Hank Garland is an act of futility, but it’s
and “Riot Chous” is another fast blues tune, something I’m still trying to do, every day. And,
in the style of “Move.” no matter what, we can always be inspired
My personal favorite is “Relaxin’,” where by his great musical legacy.

G U I T A R P L A Y E R . C O M OCTOBER 2 01 8 33



1998 Italia Monza

AS A COLLECTOR of what we smarmy elitists colors — a champagne-spar- from a nine-volt-pow-
call “weirdos” or, indeed, “whack jobs,” I have to kle wrap with a grey MOTS ered amp of its size, but
say that the Italian birds of the 1960s still con- pickguard and matching head- what fun! Its clean tone
tinue to amaze me. In particular, it’s the Italian stock — help transport its style gets about as loud as an
designers from that period that blow my mind back to the ’60s. The fact that acoustic guitar and is quite
and capture my imagination: the clothes, the there is a matching mini amp that usable in a hotel room, on a
motorcycles, the accordions, the scooters, the attaches to the guitar’s lower bout, couch, on a tour bus, or in the
cars... These, and more, stand today as testa- makes it an even wilder oddity. dressing room. Crank it to 11 and you
ments to a time when imagination met not only get a pretty gnarly distorted tone. The amp is
humor but industrial practicality. Italian guitars P L AYA BILITY & SOUND easily removed with one little twist, revealing the
from the ’50s and ’60s, many of which were Here’s the beautiful thing about Italia guitars: guitar’s output jack. Neato! Um — I mean, dope!
born out of retooled accordion plants, are no Unlike their early predecessors, which sometimes
exception to that glorious, untethered lightness played a bit rough and needed to be wrangled, VALUE
of design. Brands like Eko (which also produced these have a modern and familiar feel. Built I paid $400 for mine about 10 years ago. The
guitars for Vox), Wandré, Crucianelli, Diamond, from stalwart components, they convey a sense Monza appears to have been discontinued,
Panoramic, Welson, Galanti, Meazzi and Goya, of ruggedness and roadworthiness. Wilkinson but used examples can be found for between
to name a few, all share that unique and won- designed not only that wonderful floating two- $600 and $1,000.
derful blend. post, low-friction bridge (my personal favorite, by
I guess I’m not the only guitar nut who feels the way) but also the pickups, which are decid- WHY IT RULES
that way, because the Italia Guitar Company edly Fender-like, voiced somewhere between a In addition to looking somewhat wacky, the
— which was founded in England by designer Strat and a Tele. The maple neck with rosewood Monza plays and sounds great and is quite
and luthier Trevor Wilkinson — has been joyfully fingerboard sports 22 nicely dressed medium affordable. What’s more, you’ll stand out with
recreating that vibe for the past 20 years. This frets. Combined with a Graphalon nut, this baby a guitar that doesn’t look like what everybody
article is about one of Italia’s early retro Italian- sounds great and stays in tune. You can even else is playing. To see Italia’s other builds, visit
inspired designs: the Monza. dive-bomb the strings all the way slack and it
will come back in tune quite nicely.
WE IR DO FAC TO R The little amp, held securely in place with If you’d like your own weirdo featured, feel
The shape is obviously a bit off-kilter, and the a snap, is pretty much what you might expect free to contact me at

34 OCTOBER 20 1 8 G U I T A R P L A Y E R . C O M
36 OCTOBER 20 1 8 G U I T A R P L A Y E R . C O M



G U I T A R P L A Y E R . C O M OCTOBER 2 018 37

I CONSIDER MYSELF an artist and

there are no rules to it, because
it’s art, right?”
Gary Clark Jr. is talking about
the pre-release tracks for what will soon
become his fifth studio album, This Land
(Warner), the follow-up to 2015’s The Story
of Sonny Boy Slim. While on the road in
Europe, taking a break from the studio,
he’s offered GP an exclusive opportunity
to hear the new songs in rough mix form.
Listening to the tracks, I was immediately
struck by the freedom and spontaneity of the
music. Clark navigates through rock, soul,
punk, R&B, hip-hop, even some reggae —
all of it righteously juiced up by his explo-
sive guitar playing and infused with shades
of psychedelia. He cut much of the album
with his new signature Gibson SG, which


features three P-90s, giving his guitar tone a

more aggressive edge than usual. Not unlike

Jimi Hendrix — who was a big influence

on him — Clark has found ways to make
music that pushes convention, while still
maintaining the backbone of blues that’s
at the core of his style.
“Blues is my roots, and a lot of my musi- Sean McCarthy, who works with Jimmie much time to ponder the finer points of
cal lessons came from that music,” he says. Vaughan, gave me this hard drive with a the album’s creation. “We spend so much
“But I don’t wake up and go, ‘I’m a blues bunch of music on it. So I was listening to time out on the road, and now I have these
guy.’ I think my being from Texas, and the stuff I hadn’t heard before and just strum- kids running around too,” Clark says. “So
way I am, it’s always going to sound some- ming around on an electric guitar. I started it’s kind of on and off between the road
what bluesy. But it’s just soul music to me.” messing around, making beats and chop- and home. I haven’t thought much about
Clark’s knack for bringing modern sounds ping samples, and just kind of built it from how it all happened, but it took me about
and grooves into his songs have kept him on there. But it’s taken me a long time because six months to get it done.”
the leading edge of what might be loosely I haven’t released an album in a while.”
termed “blues rock.” But when asked about Indeed, the past few years have been busy Can you cite any differences in the way
the stylistic diversity of the songs destined ones for Clark’s personal life. In 2016, he you approached this project?
for This Land, he replies, “A lot of it was married his girlfriend, model Nicole Trun- I went in to Arlyn Studios in Austin with
just being inspired by things — the good fio, and the couple now have two children: this producer/engineer named Jacob Sciba,
times, the bad times and just my expe- a son, Zion, and a daughter, Gia, who was and he basically just let me freak out for
riences over the last few years. Another born this past January. Between the making a couple of months. We tried a bunch of
part of the inspiration was that my friend of This Land and touring, he hasn’t had things — different tones, instrumentation

38 OCTOBER 20 1 8 G U I T A R P L A Y E R . C O M

and just trying to use the whole spectrum in the volume department? which was like a beat, and we built it from
in the studio — we wanted to use all the No, I think it was just the idea of having there with J.J. Johnson on drums. That
colors. I started off doing everything by a new guitar. For the electric stuff it’s just song means a lot to me and I love how it
myself, and then I got a real drummer in loud SG cranked all the way up. turned out.
there — a guy named Brannen Temple — as
well as John Dees, a keyboard player from What gauge strings do you put on that Were you pushing your voice harder on
Austin. Mike Elizondo and Alex Peterson guitar? these songs?
[of the Peterson Brothers] played some It’s like an .011 through .050 set — noth- Yeah. I think I’ve been a little bit shy about
bass, and I got Sheila E to do some percus- ing too crazy. I also use a medium pick, exploring my voice because it’s hard for
sion stuff out in L.A., which was an amaz- but I don’t know what it is. me to perform in the studio. I don’t want
ing experience. Afterward, I’d go back and anybody in the studio when I’m singing at
layer other things over what they’d added. What effects did you bring to the ses- all. I get way back in the vocal booth and I
So it wasn’t really like a band all out sions? turn the lights as low as possible so I can
on the floor type of thing; it was a kind Early on I got into fuzz because of Jimi still see what I’ve written. I might have a
of like “figure it out as we go,” just doing Hendrix. So I’m using a Fulltone Octa-
whatever fit the vibe of who we had play- fuzz, as well as a Crybaby wah, a Strymon
ing on the track. Flint reverb/tremolo and a Hermida Audio
Zendrive — although I didn’t use that one TO B E R ES P ECT F UL,
The song “Gotta Get Into Something” much this time because I couldn’t really dial
has a raw, Ramones-like roar that it in for the sounds I wanted. But mainly
sounds like you were really cranking in it was volume. I’d just turn it all the way WAS L I KE I H AD NO
the studio. Was that the case? up and use the guitar’s tone knob to dial
Yeah, and I’ve really never done that before. it in however I needed to.
I’ve always tried to be respectful, but this
time it was like I had no manners. It just What’s the rotary-speaker effect on “I tequila or two, and I just let loose.
sounded better to be able to open the amp Walk Alone”? But I’ve always kind of held back and
up all the way and then dial it back with That’s the Strymon Flint. That was a fun sung to reach the notes and not really to
the guitar. There’s something very free- one to record, and it started with me being evoke emotion or paint a picture or become
ing about that, and it opened up every- in the studio in L.A. with Joseph Angel, a character for a particular song. It’s always
thing for me. I could play from zero to 10 who is a great writer and artist. I brought been like my normal voice over everything
and everything in between. In fact, I just this idea to him and he helped me arrange — either falsetto or my lower register. But
put the phone in my other ear and noticed it. He made it kind of like an R&B track, this time I was experimenting with all
that I have lost some hearing in the record-
ing process. Remember those earplugs,

kids! [laughs]

How much trigger time did your new SG

get on these tracks?
Well, I was using my TV-color [gloss yellow]
SG with three P-90s, until I stupidly didn’t
unplug it and walked away. I got the cord
caught up in my boot and snapped the
headstock off — I cried a little bit about
that. But Gibson was real nice and they
made me a red SG with three P-90s, which
I plugged into a Cesar Diaz 100-watt head
running through a Marshall cabinet. Joe
Walsh, who is a real sweetheart of a guy,
gave me a 12-string Takamine that I used
on a song called “Guitar Man.” Those were
pretty much all the guitars I used.

Was there anything in particular about

the music you were listening to at the
time that made you decide to cut loose

G U I T A R P L A Y E R . C O M OCTOBER 2 018 39

kinds of things, because I’ve come to real- for lyrics for this album. They don’t come well. If that doesn’t happen, I’ll just scrap
ize that your voice is an instrument and it easy, and I second-guess everything because it and redo it.
can change and it can be manipulated. I I want it to be from an honest place. I want
guess I’m just becoming more comfortable to be able to still sing it 10 years down the Isn’t it time consuming to be rewriting
with it. I’m not getting any younger either, line. You know what I mean? I’ll do the lyrics in the studio?
so I want to have fun with it and let loose whole lyric and lay it down, and I’ll listen Yeah, and my deep thanks to Jacob and
before I can’t do it anymore. to it over and over and then go, “Forget [assistant engineer] Joseph Holguin, because
that. I’m going to come up with some- those guys were very patient while I would
“Feeling Like a Million” is a powerful thing else.” I’ll either redo it or change a be in the booth for hours and hours trying
tune that really grabbed me with the few lines, but I want the story to be com- to figure something out. That song in par-
melody and story line. How do you come plete and to paint a picture. I want every ticular I sung over and over trying to get
up with lyrics? line that goes by to be some kind of visual a pre-chorus that felt right. Then I’d sing
I think I’ve gone completely mad searching for me, so when I hear it I can see it as the hook and switch words around, and
they’re like, “Dude, it’s cool now.” But I’m
going “No!” Once it felt like it was really
right though, they said, “Okay, we get it.”
“J IM M I E VAUGH AN That one definitely took a while, but you
know, they all took a while. Like I said, it
LO O KE D DOW N AT doesn’t come easy for me. But for a lot of
M Y P E DAL B OAR D the songs I often came back to where my
instincts were initially. I’d pull a tune apart
A N D SAI D, ‘ W H AT and try to make it bigger or more compli-
T H E F **K YOU cated, and that would take a few days, and
then I would come back to the original idea.
AL L T H AT ? ’ ” Do you ever get writers block, and how
do you deal with it?
Well, “Feed the Babies” was one of those
songs where I had to stall for a while. The
music was there, but I just couldn’t come up
with anything. Jacob saw I was stuck, and
he said, “Well, I’ve kind of got something
for this. I know it’s not really my place, but
I’ve been listening to these roughs and this
is my idea.” Have you ever seen the movie,
Ray, where this guy is going “I’ve got this
song,” and he gives it to Ray Charles? It
was like that. Jacob kind of shyly sang it to
me, and I went in there and basically pol-
ished it up or whatever. So I’ve got to com-
pliment Jacob, because he wrote at least 80
percent of that song, and it was something
he wanted to put out there in the world.
It’s not an easy thing to do when you’re
not really a songwriter or a performer and
you present something to an artist and say,
“What do you think about this?” It could
have been terrible, but it turned out to be
an absolutely beautiful song.

I understand you did all the drum pro-

gramming for this project, so can you

talk about how you created “I Got My

Eyes on You”?
I was in L.A. for a couple of months when

40 OCTOBER 20 1 8 G U I T A R P L A Y E R . C O M

my wife was pregnant with our daugh- But mainly volume and tone does it for nothing.” [laughs] Watching him play, I’m
ter; and I was at home in my little make- me on the guitar. thinking, “Is all this necessary?” I mean,
shift studio room with my Akai MPC X, I’m a little bit gun shy about pulling it really is kind of telling when someone
and I came up with this drum pattern and out all the effects. I got up onstage to do who is basically just using their fingers can
chord progression. I just started off with some shows with Jimmie Vaughan and he make guitar sounds like that. It’s pretty
the organ and kick drum and I was get- looked down at my pedalboard and said, incredible. But you know what? I love you
ting familiar with arranging and making “What the fuck you going to do with all Jimmie, but this is my life and I’m going
multiple parts and adding dynamics and that?” I said, “I don’t know man, I guess to stomp on my fuzz!
layers to that. I was really trying to figure
out how to make a song on the MPC X and
not just a looped beat — I wanted some-
thing that went somewhere. When I got
back to Texas, I put some guitars on it as


well as drums and other live elements. It

was really exciting to have Sheila E come
in for a couple of days and play on four
songs. When she heard the first chorus of
“I Got My Eyes on You,” she goes, “Stop!
I’ve got to get on this!” She just hopped up
and created this amazingly beautiful stuff.
In fact, the whole thing changed when she
played on these songs.

Is your live setup different from what

you used to record with?
No, it’s pretty much the same except for
using some backline amps on this tour,
which — not to be negative — don’t sound
as good as mine. The Cesar Diaz head
belonged to Arlyn Studios and they let me
borrow it. I’m trying to figure out if I can
buy it from them, or I’ll just end up steal-
ing it somehow. [laughs] The Fender Vibro-
King is still in my setup, as is the SG, and
I have my “Blak & Blu” Epiphone Casino,
and that’s it. I was all over the place for a
while but I’ve kind of reeled it in. It’s like
this is what works for me, this is what I
know, and it feels great. The same pedal-
board that I used in the studio is with me
on tour, and nothing’s really changed over
the years at all — fuzz, reverb, tremolo,
wah and maybe a boost here and there.

G U I T A R P L A Y E R . C O M OCTOBER 2 01 8 41
42 OCTOBER 20 1 8 G U I T A R P L A Y E R . C O M

B Y J I M B E A U G E Z P I C T U R E S B Y J . B . L A W R E N C E

AMANTHA FISH CLIMBS the steps of her and blues players she found in her hometown. She broke
19th-century New Orleans home, shoulder- out of the Midwest blues scene with a power trio that
ing her Arctic White Gibson SG as she retreats showcased her fiery guitar playing and inimitable, howl-
from the midday summer sun into a wide parlor. The ing vocals. “I would pick up things here and there from
air is thick with bayou humidity, but as a Kansas City other guitar players, just little theoretical bits,” Fish
native who spent her first 20-something years weather- says. “A lot of what I do I learned by ear.”
ing winter blizzards, Fish doesn’t seem to mind. Her early solo records — Runaway , Black Wind
As she finds a spot on her couch, the muted thud of Howlin’ and Wild Heart — track her progression from
drums sounds through the walls of a recording studio, traditional blues-rock to a rawer interpretation of hill
situated next door in a former church. In New Orleans, country blues. Her slow-burning cover of Screamin’ Jay
music is everywhere. Hawkins’ “I Put a Spell on You” and faithful rendition
“You could walk down any street and come up with of Black Sabbath’s “War Pigs” became highlights of her
an idea,” the acclaimed blues guitarist says. “There’s live sets and showed her musical range.
so much music around, and the people are inspiring.” After absorbing the swampy Delta blues of the Mis-
Fish grew up hearing bluegrass, Americana and hard sissippi, Fish followed the big river to the bottom of the
rock, eventually finding her way to the blues through basin, where it all flows together in a gumbo of sounds.
classic rock and roll. She taught herself the basics on Her latest albums, Chills & Fever and Belle of the West,
guitar, then picked up licks from records and the jazz both released in 2017 on Ruf Records, expand on her

G U I T A R P L A Y E R . C O M OCTOBER 2 018 43

44 OCTOBER 20 1 8 G U I T A R P L A Y E R . C O M
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recipe. The brassy and noirish Chills & Fever blues shredder to bandleader.
as much.”
–Guitar World
nods to classic soul and R&B; it was recorded
with the Detroit Cobras and a horn section What attracted you to blues music?
from New Orleans. Belle of the West digs I think it was just years of listening to gui-
deeper into Americana — with R.L. Burn- tar-oriented music and finding that a lot of
side and Mississippi Fred McDowell influ- it was based in blues. When I found Stevie
ences — revealing her songwriting chops Ray Vaughan and Jimi Hendrix — and even
and ear for haunting melodies. the Rolling Stones and Led Zeppelin — their
“What inspired me to start playing is sort love of blues music was so evident through-
of all over the map, and the blues always glued out everything they did, so I started just
everything together for me,” she explains. going backwards. It’s such a passionate, raw,
On a rare weeklong break between tour
dates with her seven-piece band, Fish took
emotive music, and it’s stayed relevant and
evolved. It cuts to the heart of what most
Guitar Player through her evolution from people feel and are going through. I just felt
connected to it.
“W HAT IN S P IR ED M E “Not only does it have a great sound
How did being in Kansas City shape your
TO STA RT PL AYIN G and smooth sweep range all wrapped
I S SORT OF A L L up in a lightweight, pedalboard-
Kansas City has a long history of jazz and
blues, and they had jams every day. That was friendly package, but it comes in at
OV E R THE MAP, A N D a price that is simply astonishing…”
why I started picking up standards: I had to
T H E BLUES ALWAYS bring songs that were oriented to the jams, –Harmony Central
songs that I could jump up and play and
G LU ED EVERYT HIN G people could follow. I was going out every
TO GETHER FO R M E” night of the week for a while there, at like
w w w. e h x . c o m

G U I T A R P L A Y E R . C O M OCTOBER 2 01 8 45

18, 19 years old, for years. I’d go to work or the guitars always sounded aggressive to there were more females in the studio than
school and then get off and go play. me. It’s a layered kind of music, and if you ever. All these beautiful female voices—Lillie
really listen to it and dissect it, there’s some Mae sang on it and played fiddle, [upright
All of your albums have their own signa- beautiful melodies. bassist] Amy LaVere, Tikyra Jackson played
ture sounds. How have you grown as an drums. We had a choir of sirens.
artist throughout your releases? Belle of the West opens with Shar-
I think the songs became a little more impor- dé Thomas playing fife on “American Releasing two records in a year is a bold
tant than the solo. We’ve added more instru- Dream.” You can’t get more hill country move these days.
mentation. I grew up loving soul singers, than that. We recorded Belle of the West really close
which isn’t something I talked about much That’s real stuff. She’s a direct descendant after Wild Heart came out. We were just so
because I came up as a guitar shredder in a of [fife and drum player] Otha Turner. We fired up. There’s no overdubbing. You’re
trio. [On Chills & Fever] I wanted to show had so much great talent on that record, and singing into this mic, you’re playing into
everybody this other side, which is soul this mic — you can’t really fix things. Then
music. Then with Belle of the West, it was “ I’ M J UST T RY I NG TO the concept for Chills & Fever came about,
my love of Americana music and North Mis- and it just seemed like the time to try that.
sissippi. There’s still a lot of guitar playing
TA K E W H AT I LOV E They’re diverse records. I don’t think they
on it; there’s just a lot of layers now. A N D INT E R NAL I Z E I T would’ve worked if we put out two records
that were blues-rock.
What about that North Mississippi hill
country style made an impression on you? SO M E T H I NG T H AT How did you hook up with the Detroit Co-
I loved that there was this backbeat, this bras for Chills & Fever?
groove. It was very danceable. There was
SOUNDS A L I T T L E I’d made three albums that were trio-based,
just this raw slinkiness to the music, and D I F F E R E NT ” rockin’ guitar and stuff, and I wanted to

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46 O CTOBER 20 1 8 G U I T A R P L A Y E R . C O M
spread out a little bit. I met Bobby Harlow, What gear are you using to bring out these work the knobs against each other, make
who produced the record, and he knew the styles live? crazy psychedelic noises, and you can slow
Cobras pretty well. He and I had this idea I’ve got an SG, and a Jaguar for light stuff the pitch down. One of my favorites is the
for covering obscure soul classics — B-sides like “Hello Stranger,” the Barbara Lewis song King of Tone. That’s my go-to if I have a big
that weren’t hits, but should have been. We [on Chills & Fever]. I’ve got a Delaney 512— solo. It sounds so nice, like the tubes are
got this cool mix of classic Detroit R&B and you can get some funky feedback notes out warmed up to the perfect temperature and
soul, but also this rock and roll band back- of it. I have my Delaney signature model, the amp is turned up to the right volume.
ing it up. Then we brought in horns from the Fishcaster. I use that a lot for slide stuff.
New Orleans. And cigar-box guitars, of course. I have one Five albums in, how do you view your role
that’s called a Stogie Box Blues guitar, and in the blues?
You expanded from a power trio to a sev- it sounds mean as hell. And then my acous- That’s tough, because I don’t know what my
en-piece band in the process. tic koa Taylor. My main [amp] rig right now role is within blues music. I’m just trying to
At first, I was afraid I was going to lose is four 12s and a big Camille head [all Cat- take what I love and internalize it, and maybe
too much guitar, but there’s so much more egory Five]. put out something that sounds a little dif-
to play to. It makes me be more creative, ferent. I think that’s important, because you
and we can take things further than we What role do pedals play in recreating turn on new people to it that way. I love what
could before. When I hit the solo, it’s a little such a wide array of tones? the Black Keys did, and Jack White, because
more surprising than when I was always I did away with pedals for years, but now I you could tell they were big fans of Delta
playing all the time. A horn section can love using delay — I’ve got three delays on blues. Young kids who maybe never would
add such a great pad and lift and dynamic my board right now, and I’ve got them all have heard a Junior Kimbrough record will
change that I couldn’t do as a trio all the set to different things. There’s a moment in maybe go out and buy one. So just take it
time. I have a whole other element to play the show where I’ll do crazy, pitch-bending and move forward with it, and always keep
with onstage. stuff with the delay pedals because you can it as inspiration.

G U I T A R P L A Y E R . C O M OCTOBER 2 01 8 47


YOU’ R E R E A D I N G T HE headline “Blues Crusader” that or it’s not blues.” Honestly, the blues came
and you’re looking at a photo of Rick Springfield, and out of guys just playing shit. There were no rules
you’re probably asking yourself, “How can that be? for them. Sometimes they played a 13-bar blues, or
The Guitar Player staff must have been hit by a com- an eight-bar blues or a 50-bar blues. They just did
munal acid flashback that fried their collective neural what they needed to do to get their songs out. So I
networks.” O ye, of little faith… thought about that, and I decided I didn’t want to
At this point in his career, Springfield shouldn’t restrict myself. I didn’t want to limit the appeal of
be perceived solely as an actor/musician who scored the record, for one, and I also wanted to be truth-
a 1981 pop-rock mega hit with “Jessie’s Girl.” In fact, ful to myself because I have a lot of pop and rock in
he has released 19 studio albums celebrating guitar my soul, and my strengths as a writer are in those
riffs, guitar solos and balls-out rock and roll — albeit areas. Furthermore, I felt if I stuck to the definition
with a Beatles-esque approach to melodic hooks — of “straight blues” — lyrics and all — it would be a
and his live shows always deliver a take-no-prison- somewhat meaningless album for me.
ers intensity. The guitarist — who has a home studio
to record his song ideas and album parts — has been How do you mean?
honest about his own bouts of depression. The current Most everybody who does blues albums basically
state of the world sparked some very deep and emo- redoes old blues songs. I didn’t want to do that,
tional reactions, driving him to the blues and serving because it has been done way better by other art-
as inspiration for his latest album, The Snake King ists, and the originals are pretty fucking good, too.
(Frontiers Music), released earlier this year. I’m also a hook whore, and I wanted people to go,
While the new album is likely best categorized as a “Hey, that’s catchy.” And then I had a lot I wanted
blues-pop-rock hybrid, the songs definitely have hell- to write about. So much was going on in my head,
hounds on their tails. Each track is full of wall-to-wall because I feel the world is just completely messed
guitar textures and intense and unhinged solos. One up. Evil is so prevalent, and it’s really the end for my
song, “Orpheus in the Underworld,” is even a very childhood belief that there’s a benevolent god out
un-radio-friendly 14 minutes long. The Snake King is there looking out for us. We need to do something
a brilliantly savage guitar opus by an artist who feels soon or it’s going to be over. That’s what I wanted
life intensely and has the guts to share his demons to write and sing about, and that’s not the kind of
to warn, engage and inspire. content that suits a pure pop album. But the blues
can absolutely be about some dark shit. So for the
As The Snake King displays depth, scope and sty- album to be meaningful to me, all of this pointed to
listic latitude, GP are curious how you developed writing stuff with a blues-infused approach.
your own definition of blues music for the album.
I wanted to do a blues-based thing, but I didn’t want Some of your stated influences — such as Eric Clap-
to be completely bound by the stuff purists would ton and Jimmy Page — weren’t solely regurgitating,
say, such as, “Well, you can’t deviate from this or say, Albert King licks in Cream and Zeppelin. They

48 OCTOBER 20 1 8 G U I T A R P L A Y E R . C O M
G U I T A R P L A Y E R . C O M OCTOBER 2 018 49

[in Hollywood] to do drums and bass

with a great room sound.

It’s hard to believe that your band played

the basics with such intensity, given they
were hearing acoustic beds rather than
screaming electric-guitar tracks.
Well, the original acoustic tracks are
pretty frickin’ intense. They’re full-on
Pete Townshend–style acoustics, where
you go, “Okay, this guy is really hitting
the guitar with a lot of energy.” [Drum-
mer] Jorge Palacios and [bassist] Siggy
Sjursen are in my incredible road band,
and all of us are the kinds of players who
hit hard. That’s just the way we play. It’s
always a fucking rock show. [laughs]

Did you track your electric-guitar parts

back at home?
Yes. I don’t like burning studio time by
playing the songs and hoping everyone
will figure out the right parts there, in the
moment. I like to take my time and build
also evolved a blues foundation into a “ I R E AL LY WANT THE the tracks, and my home studio is per-
hybrid. fect for that. I can just sit there and try
Yes. I was encouraged by that. Those tal- SNAKE KING TO S E L L parts all day. If something doesn’t work,
ented guys listened to all of the amazing SO T H AT P EO P L E CAN I’ll try something else. I don’t have to
blues originators, and then they went worry about the other musicians sitting
south with it. My favorite Clapton play- HEA R I T. T H AT ’S W H Y around going, “Oh, come on. Can we get
ing is on Cream’s Disraeli Gears, where to the next song already?”
he was doing that incredibly melodic stuff.
He did recycle a lot of the old riffs, but T HIS. YOU D O I T FO R What was the main guitar rig you used?
he begins and ends with some amazing I have a lot of guitars, but most of them
shit, and that’s what put him above the are hanging on my walls because I love
guys who were just recycling rote blues T HE N TO S H AR E I T the way they look — although if some-
licks. And, wow, Jimmy Page took it com- thing isn’t working, I’ll pull a guitar off the
pletely somewhere else by infusing blues
WI T H OT H E RS” wall to try it. Mainly, I used this wooden
with Eastern stuff and British Isles folk blues melodies and chord patterns. And Dobro that has a plunky, authentic south-
and all that. I had to come up with something more ern sound, and a Luna Steel Magnolia res-
I kind of tried to follow the same path, than that. I couldn’t just sing “la-la” lyrics onator. The electrics were a Strat and my
but I didn’t limit myself. I’d start out with about my baby and hope the songs would ’69 SG, which I used for some riffs. For
a blues attitude, but if some other idea go anywhere interesting. I had to come slide, I played a ’60s Montgomery Ward
came along, I would go with it and try to up with lyrics that guided the songs to an Airline guitar. It’s a little piece of crap
incorporate it in whatever blues structure appropriate thematic direction. with an action so high you can’t play it
I had started with. For example, “Little as a regular guitar, but it’s a monster for
Demon” is based around a basic rock riff, How did you approach the album ses- slide. I only have one amp that I use a lot
but the lyrics and the arrangement stick sions? — the Morgan 12-watt that I also played
to the blues-infused plan. Initially, I was so unsure of the songs and on the last album — because, for me, the
the arrangements that I went into my home sound is in the guitar. That’s also why I
And, of course, the lyrics were pretty studio, put down click tracks, and played don’t use pedals very often. [Co-guitar-
central to the album’s thematic journey. keeper acoustic and resonator tracks to ist] Tim [Pierce] had a whole bunch of
Absolutely. The words gave shape to the give me an idea of the direction. Then I amp heads connected to a speaker cabinet,
music, because a few of the songs initially did rough vocals on all 12 songs, and I so I think he tried different things, but
started out with, what I’d call, standard brought the tracks to EastWest Studios I was listening to the sound rather than

50 OCTOBER 20 1 8 G U I T A R P L A Y E R . C O M

watching what he was doing. His main gui-

tars were a Strat and a very cool Les Paul.

We love that there are long guitar solos

blasting all over the album.
Look, it’s no secret that the guitar has taken
a backseat to computer-generated stuff these
days. That’s the way it is. I’m not moan-
ing about it, but I’m a guitar player, and I
love guitar solos, so I played a lot of them.
[laughs] Tim is the only other guitar player
on the album, and he did a couple of solos,
as well. He said, “Wow, it’s so much fun
to just take off on a solo, because usually
people want me to play background stuff
for the song.”
There is so much guitar going on —
acoustics, electrics, riffs, solos, sweetening
parts and so on — that it must have been
quite a chore to get all the layers and tex-
tures to speak clearly in the mix.
I like to think I create parts that don’t
conflict with other parts, but just because I
can write a song and know what I’m doing
in the studio, it doesn’t mean I have a clue
where everything needs to fit so that people
can hear what’s going on. Being an incred-
ible mix engineer is a whole other gig. So
I had Warren Huart mix the album, and
he was absolutely the right guy. He got
where the album was going and what it
should sound like. He did a great job of
pulling stuff out, leaving stuff off or sacri-
ficing something I thought should be fea-
tured to live underneath the mix instead.

Any examples of those “sacrifices”?

When I did the acoustic guitar parts, I
thought, These sound great; they need to
be audible on the final mix. But that’s not
how Warren mixed them. They’re not as This space intentionally left blank.
loud as I thought they’d be, but they are
still driving everything. That’s what record-
ing is about — knowing what parts work
best to truly animate the song. A neck this personalized
doesn’t need a name tag.
This seems like a very personal album —
one you’d have made even if it sold almost
no records because you had to get the Custom Strat® and Tele®
songs out. replacement necks*
That might be true. Probably. But even so, built to your specs.
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I really want The Snake King to sell so that
people can hear it. That’s why you do stuff CUSTOM GUITAR & BASS PARTS
like this. You do it for yourself first and
then to share it with others. *Necks trademark licensed to Warmoth Guitar Products, Inc by Fender.

G U I T A R P L A Y E R . C O M OCTOBER 2 01 8 51

52 SE PT EM BER 20 1 8 G U I T A R P L A Y E R . C O M


ROBERT JOHNSON MET Satan down at the crossroads all on some niche market? No. This is the best music in the world.
his own. It was a different story for Savoy Brown’s Kim Sim- In addition, I didn’t want to play groove- or rhythm-based
monds — he brought an entire caravan with him. blues that didn’t have hooks. I certainly understand the beauty
Simmonds, who founded his seminal British blues-rock band of grooves in blues — and a lot of artists never get very far
way back in 1965, embraces the “it takes a village” approach, away from that style — but that wasn’t what I wanted to hear.
when it comes to his artistry. Throughout the years, his cre- Everything I did had to have a guitar lick. I was one of the first
ative team has included his wife, Debbie Lyons, as well as an guys to do Willie Dixon’s “I Ain’t Superstitious” in the U.K.
entire army of band members (including drummer Bill Bru- Why did I pick songs like that? Because they had real guitar
ford, guitarist “Lonesome Dave” Peverett and bassist Andy hooks. Right from the start, all of the Savoy Brown music we
Pyle) and a vast storehouse of influences from his constant recorded in the early days was mostly based around riffs and
absorption of diverse musical styles and other players. hooks, and that put the songs into the mainstream thing. In
Furthermore, his crew must have struck a hard bargain fact, to this day, one of the things I’m most proud of is that
with ol’ Lucifer, because Savoy Brown continue to be a vital Savoy Brown — just a little blues band — really cracked the
force both live and on record. The 53-year-old group’s latest pop charts in America. When I’ve gotten it right through the
release, Witchy Feelin’ (Ruf), is all about gorgeous-toned, years, you’ll hear those hooks, those dynamics and those con-
raging or sensual guitars, as well as driving grooves. The band nections to pop and orchestral music. I certainly wasn’t ana-
plays everything with the fire and toughness of a bunch of lyzing it back then, but that’s what I was thinking.
snotty kids looking to prove something from an opening slot
on a festival gig. Not surprisingly, Simmons — who graced How do you determine how far to push Savoy Brown songs
the cover of the January 1975 Guitar Player —credits Lyons, without disrupting the expectations of your core blues-
drummer Garnet Grimm, bassist Pat DeSalvo, and recording rock audience?
engineer/mixer Ben Elliott with helping him deliver such That’s easy. We spent two years testing the songs onstage.
savage and spirited performances on Witchy Feelin’. In fact, “Thunder, Lightning & Rain” [from Witchy Feelin’]
started off as a ballad and ended up as a down-and-dirty
Witchy Feelin’ sounds like it was cut by some brash kid boogie. It just shows you that when you write a song, you
rather than a blues-rock icon with decades of performance might not quite understand it yourself until you play it live.
under his belt. How do you keep your playing and writing
so vital? I love the old method of road-testing songs. I suspect few
Actually, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about that recently, bands take the time to do that these days.
and I believe it goes back to the very beginning of Savoy Brown. Listen — even my songwriting sessions are all done live.
You see, I always had a very big vision for the music. Listen I think that certainly helps the energy. I’ve got a drum
to “Mr. Downchild” [from 1968’s Getting to the Point]: It machine going, I’m playing my guitar, I’m going through
starts quiet and builds to a crescendo. That was me thinking the lyrics to see what fits, and I’m getting it all down there
blues music should be orchestral in its dynamics. I thought and then. Then, I’ll know if it’s trash or if it’s good that very
blues should compete with pop music. Why should it be same day.

G U I T A R P L A Y E R . C O M OCTOBER 2 018 53

How did you pick the good ones for each in one of the verses.
album? “ I L I ST E N TO AL L
I don’t. I never decide on my songs. I write T YP ES O F MUS I C Do any other elements inform your writ-
too many of them to decide. I trust other ing?
people to say, “This is good. This is bad. ALL OF THE TIME, Definitely. I’m not one of those guys who
This is average.” I’m lucky to have my wife TO S E E I F I CAN GE T plays in a void and invents something. I
and a team of people around who support listen to all types of music all of the time
and counsel me, so that I can be artistic. SO M E I NS P I RAT I O N to see if I can get some inspiration from a
FRO M A GRO OV E , groove or a vocal or anything else. It could
You mentioned “going through the lyrics be Lightnin’ Slim or a modern rock track.
to see what fits” when you’re writing. Do O R A VO CAL , O R I mean, if you’re going to write detective
you peruse your songwriting notebooks A N Y T H I NG E LS E . I T novels, you had better read a lot of detec-
for ideas? tive novels, right? You’ve got to get inspi-
It’s more that all the lyrics are completed COUL D B E L I GH T NI N’ ration from somewhere.
before I even touch a guitar. I always start S L IM O R A MO DE R N Furthermore, I’m not beyond listen-
with the lyrics, because I feel if you have ing to anybody. I love guitar players, and
a good lyric, it can become any type of RO C K T RAC K” I’m fairly open-minded. Obviously, I’m a
song. I could make it a country song, a blues-rock guy, but I can recognize great
folk song or a heavy-metal song. This is musical vibe I’m going for. It’s actually talent on the guitar in any style, and I ask
especially important when writing blues, very exciting, because the process of writ- myself, “Hey, what can I learn from this?”
because blues lyrics can cover a lot of ing a song can go anywhere. Sometimes, For example, I learned a lot from Yngwie
genres. So I’ll get some chords or riffs go- you realize the title you have isn’t the Malmsteen. I haven’t heard what he has
ing, and I’ll see which lyrics represent the best title. The title is actually somewhere been doing since the ’80s, but he had a

54 O CTOBER 20 1 8 G U I T A R P L A Y E R . C O M
the top of my head, and I left them as is.
It’s a jazz sensibility. That’s the era I grew
up with. I don’t want to overanalyze the
whole thing, and I don’t want to take the
stuffing out of it. I know from experience
I could disappear down the rabbit hole.
Yeah, I could give you six solos, but, to me,
the first one is going to be as good as any
of the others; and, sometimes it’s the best
because it really captures your gut feelings.
I mean, I did do a couple of takes on a few
things — I don’t want to give you the idea
beautiful guitar sound. I want beauty and — I kept the guide vocal, and what you hear the process was one way and one way only
poetry when I hear the guitar — which on the album is exactly how we played it — but, by and large, I’m a first-take guy.
is why I also listen to all the jazz players. in the studio. I suppose I have the luxury
of experience now, of knowing what I’m Given that live and improvised approach
Did you record the album tracks live in all about, so I’m not big on doing multiple to recording, were there any surprises or
the studio, or build them up from the guitar takes. It’s going to go down once, epic failures?
drums? and that’s it. No failures, but a surprise — or a save. I
Yes, it was live. Of course. That’s the way had a vocal melody and lyrics for “Close
this music should be recorded. I over- Even the solos? If so, did you improvise to Midnight,” and I sensed straightaway,
dubbed some guitars and vocals, although, them or work them out beforehand? from the vibe in the studio, that nobody
on some tracks — such as “Witchy Feelin’” All those solos were done completely off wanted to embarrass me by saying it wasn’t

G U I T A R P L A Y E R . C O M OCTOBER 2 01 8 55

working. Luckily, I had a good idea: I said, to worry about the tones. Ben says all he
“Let’s do it as an instrumental.” I could feel did was put up the faders, but he’s being
the angst go out of the room. [laughs] So I very modest.
did a one-take thing, and I’m thinking, “I
could play so much more on that. I could do It must be challenging to continually
these bends. I could rephrase some parts.” drive Savoy Brown toward creative suc-
I can’t tell you how much 90 percent of my cess throughout its 53-year existence.
body wanted to go in and redo it. But the Right now, I’m very much aware of what
point of a song is not to show you that I being a leader means. It doesn’t mean that
can play guitar. The point of a song is to you get everybody else to do the work and
convey a feeling. So I stopped, and it was reap the benefits. On the other hand, I’m not
the right thing to do. We had it the first that guy any more, where it has to be my
time. But I still listen to it today and say, way. I’m the guy with the vision, of course,
“Let me do it again!” [laughs] but I’m very open to criticism, and I usually
run two amps simultaneously — one dis- run things in my life by gathering input.
What gear did you bring to the sessions? torted and the other a bit cleaner — so we More and more, I view leadership within
I’m completely a non-technician, so this can choose one sound or blend the two for Savoy Brown as owning the responsibility
is going to be difficult. I don’t even know just the right tone for the track. A lot of to do my thing, and that thing starts with
what the guitars are called. The main one the guitar tones were down to Ben Elliott the guitar. I’ve got to plug in that guitar,
was a fairly new Dean Zelinsky model, and of Showplace Recording in New Jersey. get as good of a Kim Simmonds sound as
I also used a DBZ and an ’80s Gibson Les I had a lot on my shoulders with all the possible and do the job I love as best as I
Paul. For amps, we had an old Fender Blues writing, arranging, pre-production, play- can. If I do that, all the pieces in my life
DeVille and some boutique amp. I like to ing and singing, so it was great to not have fall spectacularly into place.

56 O CTOBER 20 1 8 G U I T A R P L A Y E R . C O M


Ex. 1a
Ex. 1a C9(IV) D7(V)
9fr. 1a
G9(I) C9(IV) D7(V)
9fr. 1a
G9(I) X
C9(IV) X

Beyond the Box

21 333 21 333 21 333
Ex. 1a X X
9fr. G9(I)
G9 (I)
C9 (IV)
D7 (V)

Ex. 1b1 3 3 3
X 2 X2 1 3 3 3 X2 1 3 3 3
21 333 21 333 21 333
Ex. 1b Gm7 Am7
21 333 X
21 333 X
21 333
10fr. 1b
Dm7 Gm7 Am7
Ex. 1b
10fr. 1b
2 3333 2 3333 2 3333
O N E G R E AT WAY to escape the so- substituting melodic lines drawn
10fr. Dm7 Gm7 Am7
called limitations of blues and penta- from other scales can open up end-
tonic scales is to blend your existing less new avenues for musical explo- Ex.2 2a
X3333 2X 3 3 3 3 2X 3 3 3 3
vocabulary of blues clichés with new ration and exploitation. To that end,
ideas, derived from melodic substi- we’re going to look at how to treat D2 2a
Dorian G2 Dorian
A2 Dorian
tutions. Take, for example, a 12-bar each chord individually by approach-
blues progression in the key of G. ing it with a relative minor mode. 2
9fr.2a 2a 3333
2fr. 2 3 3 3 3 4fr. 2 3 3 3 3
You’re probably already aware that
D Dorian
G Dorian A Dorian
D Dorian G Dorian A Dorian
its inherent I, IV and V chords (G7, M IX IN M IXOLY DIAN
C7 and D7, or G9, C9 and D9 exten- Here’s the theory behind the con- Ex.
D 2a
9fr. Dorian G
2fr. Dorian A
4fr. Dorian
sions) can be navigated using licks cept: Any harmonized major scale
built from combinations of the G produces only one dominant seven D
9fr.Dorian G
2fr. Dorian A
4fr. Dorian
minor pentatonic, major pentatonic chord built from its fifth scale step Ex. 2b
and blues scales. — G7 in the key of C, C7 in the key 9fr. 2fr. 4fr.
Granted, there are countless ways of F, D7 in the key of G and so forth Ex. 2b
to utilize these scales to produce both — which also provides the root of
Ex. Gm pent. Am pent.
Dm pent Gm pent Am pent
clichéd and non-clichéd licks. (It’s its corresponding Mixolydian mode
10fr. 3fr.
always interesting when someone (think major scale with a b7). So, the- Ex.
Dm2bpent. Gm pent. 5fr.Am pent.
claims to be “stuck in a rut” with pen- oretically, a 12-bar blues in G is actu-
tatonic and blues scales!) However, ally in three different major keys — C Ex.
Dm2bpent. 3fr.Gm
10fr. pent. 5fr.Am pent.
58 OCTOBER 20 1 8 G U I T A R P L A Y E R . C O M Dm
10fr. pent. GmG pent.
3fr. 5fr.Am
U I T A R P L A Y E R pent.
. C O M

for the I chord, F for the IV chord and G subs to the fingerboard a breeze. You’ll see. scale pattern — G9 for D Dorian, C9 for G
for the V chord. Now we could stop here Dorian and D9 for A Dorian — descending
and simply use each chord’s Mixolydian A DOSE O F DOR IAN from its highest to lowest note (and vice
mode as a melodic source — G Mixolyd- Start by playing a 12-bar blues in G using versa) and dig the enhanced blues tonality.
ian for G7 or G9, C Mixolydian for C7 or only the G9 (I), C9 (IV) and D9 (V) chord You can also reduce each Dorian pattern
C9 and D Mixolydian for D7 or D9 — but shapes illustrated in Ex. 1a. Now compare to a very familiar minor pentatonic “blues
let’s take it a step further and convert each these to their relative IIm7 chord shapes in box” rooted a fifth above each ninth chord
dominant seven chord to its diatonically Ex. 1b. Each pair of relative chords shares by omitting its 2 and 6, as shown in Ex. 2b.
related IIm7 chord rooted either a fifth several common tones — you can easily spot Examples 3a–c feature a short D Dorian
above or a fourth below. The idea is not to a first-inversion Dm triad nestled in the top melodic motif applied first to G9, then trans-
substitute the chords themselves — we’ll three notes of G9, a Gm triad sitting on top posed to G Dorian and A Dorian to cover
still be playing over G9, C9 and D9 — but of C9 and an Am triad embedded in D9. C9 and D9, respectively. Notice how each
to think Dm7 (the IIm7 chord in the key (Tip: Omit the root of each ninth chord and line starts on the 5 and ends on the root of
of C) for G9, Gm7 (the IIm7 chord in F) you’ve got a relative IIm6 chord.) Next we each chord. Try dropping these into select
for C9 and Am7 (the IIm7 chord in G) for build three Dorian scales/modes (root, 2, measures of a 12-bar G blues while filling
D9. It may sound confusing on paper, but b3, 4, 5, 6, b7) from the root of each minor in around them with your existing vocab-
the shape-driven architecture of chords and seven chord, as shown in Ex. 2a. Play each ulary of blues licks.
scales on the guitar makes applying these ninth chord followed by its corresponding Applying intervallic and melodic sequences

Ex. 3a
Ex. 3a D Dorian Ex.
3b G Dorian Ex.
3c A Dorian

� � �
G9(I) C9(IV) D9(V)

44 � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � �� �
4 3

� � �
1 4 3

2 3 2 4 3

3 1 1 2 3 1 2 3 1 2

� 3
� 1 2 3

10 13 12 3 6 5 5 8 7
9 10 12 12 2 3 5 5 4 5 7 7
12 5 7

Ex. 4a
Ex. 4a D Dorian in 3rds Ex.4b
Ex. 4b

� � � � � � � � � � �
G9(I) G9

� � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � �
4 3 4 3
1 1 1 1 4

44 � �
4 3 4 3 4 3 3
1 1 3 1 1 3 3
3 1 3 2 3 1 1 2
1 or 4 or 4

� �
etc. etc.

13 10 12 10 13 10 12 10
13 12 13 10 12 10 13 12 10 13 12 10
12 10 12 9 10 12 10 12 9 10
12 12

Ex. 5a
5a D Dorian in 4ths Ex.5b
Ex. 5b

� � � � � � � � � � �
� � � � � � � � � �
G9(I) G9

� � � � � � �
3 3 1

� � �
4 1 4 4 4

4 4

3 1 3 2 3 1 3 2
3 1 1 3 1 3 1 3 1
3 1 1 3 1

� �
etc. etc.

13 12 10 13 12 10
13 12 10 13 12 10 13 12 10 13 12 10
12 10 9 12 10 12 10 9 12 10
12 10 12 10

G U I T A R P L A Y E R . C O M OCTOBER 2 018 59

Ex. 6a
6a D Dorian in 5ths Ex. 6b
Ex. 6b

� � �in 5ths � � �
G9(I) G9

� �
� � � Ex. 6b�
� � � � � G9 �
� � � � � � � � � �
4 3 4 3

� � � �
1 4 1 4

44 G9(I)
Ex. 6a D Dorian3 1 3
4 1 3 3 1 3 4 1 3
1 1 3 1 2 1 1 1 3 1 1 2

� � � � � � � � � � �
� � � � � � � � � � � � �
� � � � � �
4 3 4 3

� � � �
1 4 1 4

3 1 4 1 3 3 1 3 4 1 3
3 1 2 1 2
1 3 1 1 1 3 1 1

� 13 12 12 10 10 13 �
etc. etc.

13 12 10
12 10 12 10 13 12 10
12 10 9 12 10 12 10 9 12 10
12 10 9etc. 12 10 9 etc.

13 12 10 13 12 10
Ex. 12 10
T 7a D Dorian in 6ths
13 12 10Ex. 7b D Dorian in 7ths 12 10 7c 13
Ex.10 12 in octaves
D Dorian 10
12 10 9 12 10 12 9 12 10

� � � � � � � � �
� � � � � � � � � Ex.
A 12 10 9 12 10 9
G9(I) G9(I) G9(I)

� �

7b� D Dorian
� � G9(I)� � � �
3 3 4 4

� �
4 4 2 4 1

4 3 4 4 4 4

1 2 2
Ex. 7a
7a D Dorian in 6ths Ex.7b 2 in 7ths
1 2Ex. 7c
Ex. 7c D Dorian in octaves 1 1 1 1 1 1 3 1 1

� � � � �
� � � �
� � � � �
� � � � � � � � � � � � � � �
3 3 4 4 2 4 4 1

44 �
4 4 4 4 4


1 2 2
2 1 2 1 1 1 1 3 1
1 1 1

� 13 10 12 10 13 �
etc. etc. etc.

13 12 10 13 12 10
12 13 12 13 12
12 10 9 12 10 9 10 9
12etc. 12 10etc. 12 10 9 etc.
13 12 10 13 12 10 13 12 10
10 13 12 13 12 13 12
12 10 9 12 10 9 10 9
12 12 10 12 10 9

Ex. 8a
Ex. 8a Ex.
Ex. 8b Ex. 8c
Ex. 8c

�4 �
� � � �� � � � ��
Ex. 8d

� �� � � � ��
Ex. 8e
Ex. 8e

� � �
to each substituted Dorian pattern imme- sequences can be transposed to G Dorian Though we won’t delve into rhythmic
diately transports you out of cliché-ville. and A Dorian to cover the IV and V chords variations in much detail (that’s another
Ex. 4a reorganizes the D Dorian pattern (C9 and D9). We continue with similar lesson), Examples 8a–c present a few
from Ex. 2a into descending diatonic third D Dorian sequences descending first in common rhythmic motifs as options. Apply-
intervals, while Ex. 4b reverses the direc- fourths (Examples 5a and 5b) and then in ing each one to the previous intervallic
tion of every other pair of eighth notes on fifths (Examples 6a and 6b). After that, sequences breaks you out of the straight-
beats two and four. Play both sequences it’s onward to Ex. 7a’s descending sixths, eighths mold and into less clichéd territory.
over G9. (Tip: Try reversing the order of Ex. 7b’s sevenths and Ex. 7c’s octaves, all Ex. 8d employs a 3/8 hemiola, via eighth-
eighth notes on beats one and three in either of which require some additional assem- plus-quarter-note groupings that take three
example.) These and all other intervallic bly to complete. bars to recycle, while Ex. 8e utilizes 12/8

60 OCTOBER 20 1 8 G U I T A R P L A Y E R . C O M

Ex. 9a
9a Ex.
Ex. 9b

� �� �� � �
G9(I) G9(I)

� �
Ex. 9a Ex. 9b3

44 � � � � � � � �
4 1 4

� �� �� � � �
3 1 1 G9(I) 3
1 3 2

� � �� �� � � �
3 1
4 4

44 � �

3 1 1 3
1 3


15 14 13 12
10 15
12 11 10 9 14
12 15 14 13 12
10 15
12 11 10 9 14
B 10a
12 Ex. 10b
12fr. 9fr.
Ex. 10a
Ex. 10a Ex.
Ex. 10b

� �� �� � � �
12fr. 9fr.
G9(I) 2 G9(I)

� � �
44 � � � � � � � � � � �
4 1 4 2

44 � � � � � � �
3 3 1
1 3 2
G9(I) G9(I)

� � � � � �����������
2 1 4 2 1 3

� � � �� �� � �
4 1 4 2

44 44 � � � � �
3 3 1
1 3 2
1 4 2 1 3

� � �����������
� �

15 14 13 12
15 13 12 T
14 12 A
12 11 10 9
B 15 14 13 12 B
12 10 9
15 13 12 12 10
T 14 12 T 12 11 10 9
A A 12 10 9
B B 12 10

Ex. 11a
11a Ex.
Ex. 11b
10fr. 7fr.

� � � � �
G9(I) G9(I)

� � �� ��
4 3 1

44 44 � � � � � �
4 3 1 3 2 1
3 1

� �� �� �
4 4

� � �����������
� 3 1 3 2 1

13 12 10
13 12 10 T
12 11 10 A
10 9 7
10 9 7
10 9 8
Ex. 12a Ex. 12b
7fr. 4fr.

meter for a one-bar motif gleaned from The pair of life-changing (for me) I-chord G9 we’ve got, in descending order, the root,
Frank Zappa’s
G9(I) “King Kong.” licks in Examples
G9(I) 9a and 9b demonstrates 7, b7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2 and root. Ex. 10b illus-
� � � � � � � �� �� �
� �� �� � �
4 2 usage of what 3 is 1sometimes called the D trates the same scale played one octave
4 4 � � �
4 3 1 4 3 2
“Dorian+3,” or the G “jazz-blues scale.” lower, where it can easily be connected to
4 out you can add a chromatic pass- � �����������
1 4 1


It turns
ing tone to the Dorian and relative Mixolyd-
� �It’s the same lick played in two different
octaves, but Ex. 9b features an additional
Ex. 10a. Ex. 11a and its octave-lower coun-
terpart in Ex. 11b invert the same scale to
ian modes — a major 3 (F#) sandwiched demonstration of octave displacement on start and end on F, the b7 of G9, and Exam-
between10the 84 (G) b
7 and 3 (F) for D Dorian, the A note. Ex. 5 shows the pattern from
7 10a ples 12a and 12b follow suit, starting and
T also functions10 as8a7
7 between the
10 9 7
whichT Ex. 9 originated.
8 7While 6 5the notes
7 5 4
ending on G9’s 5 (D) and 3 (B), respectively.
B and b7 for G Mixolydian — game on! may beA
B analyzed relative to Dm7, against Remember that all four of these inverted

G U I T A R P L A Y E R . C O M OCTOBER 2 018 61
� � � � �
G9(I) G9(I)

� � �� ��
4 3 1

44 44 � � � � � � �
4 3 1 3 2 1
4 3 1

�� �� �


� �����������
� 3 1 3
2 1

13 12 10
13 12 10 T
12 11 10 A
10 9 7
10 9 7
10 9 8
Ex. 12a
12a Ex.
Ex. 12b
7fr. 4fr.

� � � � �
G9(I) G9(I)

�� �� � � 44 � � � � � � � � � �
4 2

1 3 1
4 3 1 4 3 2
2 1 4 1 1

� � �����������
� �

10 8 7 7 5
10 8 7 T
8 7 6 5
10 9 7 A
7 5 4

Ex. 13a
13a G9(I) Ex.
13b C9(IV)

� � � � (�) � ������ � (�) � � � �

� �
�( )
� �� �� � �� ��
3 3 1 3 3 1 3

44 G9(I) 44 C9(IV)
3 1 1 2
1 3 2 ( ) 3 1


Ex. 13a
� ������������

Ex. 13b

�( ) � �
������ �
�( ) � �
� (�) � � � � (�) �
44 (13) 12 10 (13) 12 10� � � � � �
������ ������
� � � �
3 3 1 3 3 1 3

44 (13) 12 10 (13) 12 10
3 1 1 2
B B 1 3 2 B R B R 3 1

� 10 � ������������
� 10 �
12 12
12 12
T 12 11 12 11 T

������ ������

� �12 11� � �10 � � �


(13)� 12
� � 10
Ex. 14 G9(I)
12(13) 12 10 4 4 12(13) 12 10

� � � �
2 4 2
1 12(13) 12 10
44 � � �
12 2 1
T 2T
A 2 1 4 2
2 1
12 11 10

� 14 G9(I) �

Ex. 14
�� � � � �� � � � �

4 4

4 2

� �
2 1

4 � �
2 2
2 2 1

� 4 � 9 12 10 10
2 1 4 4

���������������� 10 9 �
9 10 12 13 9 12 10
A 12
B 10
9 10 12 13 9 12 10
10 10 For audio of this lesson, go to
10 10 9
9 12 12
B 10

scales can be transposed for application to of its notes except C# belong to D Dorian, to integrate these licks and principles into
C9 and D9. And don’t neglect your favorite I tend to think of this run as an ascending your pre-existing musical vocabulary. Do
blues phrasing techniques. String bends, G9 arpeggio (G-B-D-F-A), followed by a so as organically as possible, rather than
hammer-ons, pull-offs and finger slides are G-based #4-5-6-b7-#4-6 motif (C#-D-E-F-C#- quoting them verbatim. Mix, match, frag-
applicable to all of the previous examples. E), ending with a descending, D Dorian- ment and embellish them until they become
The embellished scale runs in Examples based root-5-b3-2-root move (D-A-F-E-D). embedded in your psyche — just like those
13a and 13b will get you on the right track. Transpose it to cover the IV and V chords, beloved clichés you know so well. Hope-
Finally, Ex. 14 reveals one of my all-time and watch the sparks fly! fully, you’ve garnered enough new ideas to
favorite altered-dominant licks pilfered long Once you’ve digested and internalized generate a fresh melodic approach to the
ago from a Ted Greene book. Though all the information presented here, the goal is blues genre that we all love so much.

62 OCTOBER 20 1 8 G U I T A R P L A Y E R . C O M

How to Embellish Pentatonic ⁄

Engraver: delete this TAB measure

and Blues-Scale Licks


EVER WONDER WHY some blues-rock guitarists sound like Ex. 1a

Ex. 1a Minor Pentatonic Scale
they’re playing much more than just minor pentatonic licks? Per-
R b3
t t
haps it doesn’t quite sound like diatonic scales and modes but 5 b7

b3 4
more like something in between?
Chances are the player is using minor pentatonics as a founda-
tion and sprinkling in extra notes here and there at strategic points. OR
5 fr
This is a method used by many of the genre’s master improvisers.
Ex. 1b
Ex. 1b Minor Pentatonic (add major 3rd)
Knowing which notes should be tossed into the mix, and when,
are the key factors that separate chaos from musicality. O
R b3 3
t t
5 b7

This lesson is designed to unveil some of the mystery of this b3 3 4
playing style, offering enough practical know-how to get you ad- b7
libbing those blues licks. Using the minor pentatonic scale as a
platform, we’ll take a look at a few neck diagrams, explore an
5 fr
b3 3

assortment of licks and finish off by applying all the information

in a full-blown blues-rock solo.


Ex. 2a Ex. 2b
For the sake of continuity and familiarity, the A minor pentatonic All examples performed with a shuffle/swing-eighths feel.

scale (A-C-D-E-G; root-b3-4-5-b7) will be used as the foundation

° ### 4 nœ œ œ œ nœ œ œ œ n œ œ œ ### nœ #œ œ œ nœ œ œn œ # œ œ œ
A7 A7
for this lesson. All examples are to be played with a shuffle, or & 4J J
≥ 5 ¿ ≤ ≥ ≥8 ≥5ÍÍÍÍ
swing-eighths, feel.
≥ ≥ ≤5 ≥ ≥ ≥5 8 ≥5 ÍÍ
3 3 3 3 3 3


Ex. 1a shows a neck diagram of the classic, two-notes-per-

string pattern we all know and love. Ex. 1b depicts the same scale 5 7
5 8 5
7 5 6
5 8 5
pattern but with the addition of a major third (C#). These major-
fret-hand 1 3 1 1 4 1 3 1 4 1 1 2 1 1 4 1 3 4 1
third insertions are enclosed in little boxes for clear illustration. fingering:

64 OCTOBER 20 1 8 G U I T A R P L A Y E R . C O M G U I T A R P L A Y E R . C O M
Engraver: delete this TAB measure


° ### 4 j nœ œ œ œ 3 ÍÍÍÍÍÍÍ ÍÍÍÍÍÍÍ


° ### 4 j nœfij #œ nœfij#œ œ 3

Ex. Engraver: delete this TAB measure Ex. 3b
Ex. 3b
A7 A7

3 3 3
œ œ œ
3 3
& 4 œ nœ œ œ œ œ nœ œ œ n œ œ ˙ nœ œ œœœœ œ œ
4 œ Scale
& 4a Blues nœ œ œ
nœ #œ nœ œ ˙
≥ ≥ ≥ ≤ ≥ ≥ ≥ ≥ ≤ ≥ ≥ ≥ ÍÍÍÍÍ ≥ ≥ ≥ O ≤5 ≥ ≥ ≥ ≥ b7 ≥ ≥ ≥ ≥ ≥ÍÍÍÍÍ t
R b3

t6 t

¢⁄ t
4 b3 b5
5 7 5 6
7 7 5 7 5 5
5 b7
7 5 7 R 5
7 5 7 7 5 7
8 5 47 b53 58 9
7 5
8 5
3 1 3 1 3 3 1 3 1 1 3 1 3 1 4 1 3 1 2 1 2 1 3 3 1 1 3 1
1 1 R 4
b3 4 1

5 fr

° ### 4 ÍÍÍ ÍÍ ÍÍÍ

Ex. Ex. 5a
4b Symmetrical Lineups (adding the 2nd, 6th and major 7th)
4a Blues Scale Ex. A7
R nœ œ bœ2œ œ b3

t œnœ œ œ œbœO t
R b3
& 4
œ œnœ
¿ 3 4 b5 t œnP.M.
5nœ b7 œbœ œ
t t œ œ ¿ t P.M. b3
b7 6
t ≥ ¿O t
b3 4
≥ ≥ ≥ ≥ ÍÍ ≥ ≥ ≤ 4≥ ≤ b5
4 b5
P.M. b7 7
R ≥ ≥ ≥ ≥ ≥ ≤ ≥ÍÍ

5 fr
7 5
7 5 65 fr7
R 5
7 8 7 5 b3
7 5
7 6 5
5 5 8 5
1 1 3 1 3 1 2 3 1 3 3 1 3 1 3 2 1 4 1
Ex. 4b Symmetrical Lineups (adding the 2nd, 6th and major 7th)


° ### 4 6ÍÍ ÍÍÍ t ° ###
Ex. 5a Ex.5b
Ex. 5b
A7 OR 2 b3 A7
tœnœ œ œ œbb3 nœ œ b œ œ œ t œnœ œ œnœ#œ œ nœ œ œ bœ œ œ œ#œnœ œbœ
b7 3
3 3

œbœ œn œ Œ Ót
35 3 3
& 4 œ œ nœ &
œnœ 7 O 4 b5
œ œ¿ œn œ œ
œ œ¿ œ
≤R ≥ ≤ ≥ ¿ ÍÍ b3 ≥ ≥ ≥ ≥ÍÍ ≥ ≥ ≤ ≥ ≤ ≥ ¿
b7 R
≥ ≥ ≥ ≥ ÍÍ ≥ ≥ O ≥ ≥ ≥ ≥ ≥ ≤ ≥ÍÍ ≥ ≥ ≤ ≥ ≥ ≥ ≤ ≥ÍÍÍ
P.M. 4 b53 5 P.M. P.M.
3 P.M.

¢⁄ ¢⁄
5 fr 5 7 8 7 5 5 7 8 7 5
7 5 7 7 5 7 5 5 6 7 7 7 6 5
7 5 6 7 7 6 5 7 7 6 5
5 5 8 5 5 5 8 5
1 1 3 1 3 1 2 3 1 3 3 1 3 1 3 2 1 4 1 1 1 3 1 3 1 2 3 1 3 3 1 3 2 1 3 2 1 4 1

° ### ÍÍÍ ÍÍÍ

Ex. 5b
A7 Ex. 6b

°& ### 4œ ‰œ3 nœnœœœœœnœ#œœœ n œ œœ œœ œœ bœœ #œœœnnnœœœ œbœœœœÍÍÍÍÍÍÍ

œ bœ œ œ œ 3
° ### 4 œ œ J œ œ œ nœ œ œ œ
Ex. 6a
nœ Œ Ó nœ
3 3
œ œ œ
n œ
Ex. 6a Ex. 6b
œ œbnœœ œ nœ œ
& 4P.M. n¿ œ
nœ œ Ó & 4J œ œ œ œn œ œ Œ
≥ ≥ ≥ ≥ÍÍ3 ≥ ≥ ≤ ≥3 ≤ ≥ ¿ 3 ≥ ≥ 3≤ ≥ ≥ ≥ ≤ ≥ÍÍÍ
œ 3 3 œ œP.M. ˙
3 3
≥ ≥ ≥ ≥ 5 7 ≥ 8 ≥7 5
≥ ≥7 ≥5 ≥ ≥ ≥ ≥ ≥ ≥
1/2 1/2 1/4


¢ ⁄
7 8 7 5

¢⁄ ¢⁄
7 5 5 5 76 7 8 7 7 5 7 87 76 55 5 5 5 7 7 5 7 7 7 5 5
5 7 7 7 8 7 5 7 65 5 7 7 7 5 5
5 55 7 7 78 5 7
1 1 3 1 3 1 2 3 1 3 3 1 3 2 1 3 2 1 4 1
1 3 1 3 1 3 1 3 1 3 1 3 1 3 1 1 3 1 3 3 3 1
3 1 3 1 1 3 3 1

° ### 4 nœ #œ œ œ nœ œbœ œnœ nœœ#œ ÍÍÍÍÍ ° ### 3 œ nœ#œ 3 ÍÍÍÍÍÍÍÍÍ

Ex. Ex. 8
Ex. 8
A7 A7
3 3 3 3 3 3
& 4J œ œ nœ œbœ œn œ œ # œ & nœ#œ œ œ œ nœ œbœ œ n œ # œ nœn œ # œ
œ œœ œ˙
≥ ≤5 ≥ ≥ ≤ ≥ ≥ ≥ ≥ ≤ ≥ ≤ ≥ ≥ÍÍÍÍ ≥ ≤ ≥ ≥ ÍÍÍÍÍÍÍÍ
3 3 3 3

≥ ≤ ≥≤ ≥≤ ≥≤ 1/2

¢⁄ ¢⁄
5 8 5 5
5 6 8 7 5 5 6 7 5 6
7 7 5 5 6 7 7 7 5 5
7 6 5 7 6 5
1 2 1 1 4 1 4 3 1 3 1 2 3 1 3 2 1
8 5 8 5 1 2 3 3 3 1 2 3 1 3 2 1
8 9 8 5 5
1 4 1 4 1 4 1 4 1

Ex. 2a offers a stock example of a minor- The first mating is produced with a ham- double-stops open the phrase, which moves
pentatonic lick cast over an A7 (A-C#-E- mer-on, while the second is the product of to a crafty, pinkie-slide (C to C#) on the
G) chord. This provides the familiar “#9” a half-step bend. low E string, followed by a wide interval-
tonality against the major-sounding chord. Ex. 3a is a “call-and-response”-style lic leap to the fifth fret of the D string. The
Now check out the counterpart lick in Ex. minor-pentatonic lick played out along lick culminates on another half-step bend
2b. Cast from the scale pattern in Ex. 1b, the lower portion of the pattern from Ex. from C to C#, this time on the low E string.
it’s very similar in contour but tosses the 1a. Again, this accentuates the minor, or
major third (C#) into the mix. This pro- #9, edginess of many blues-rock phrases. E XPAN DIN G YOUR
vides an active, “major/minor” push that is Using this lick as a template, Ex. 3b expands BLUES -SCALE LICKS
often at the very heart of blues music. Take upon it, exploiting the pairing possibilities Add a b5 to the minor pentatonic scale and
note of how the interaction of the major- of the minor-pentatonic-plus-major-third you have what is commonly referred to
and minor-third pairings are formulated. scale from Ex. 1b. Thick-sounding, tritone as the blues scale or, in some circles, the

G U I T A R P L A Y E R . C O M OCTOBER 2 018 65
Engraver: delete this TAB measure

œœ œœ œ3 ÍÍÍ ° ### 4 j
. 3 delete this TAB measure
Ex. Ex. 10
Ex. 10

° ### 4 œnœ#œœœn œœœ œ œ nœœœ œœœ œœœ nnb œœœ œœœnnœœœ œœœ œœœ
D7 (IV chordEngraver:
lick) A7 E7 (V chord lick)
œ œ‰ œnœ œ Œ Ó œ
3 3

3 3 œ˙
& 4 ‰ ‰ & 4œ nœ#œ œbœ œ nœ nœ#œ
⁄ Ex. 11a Extended œMinor œbœ œ ¿
Pentatonic .Pattern œ œ
≥ ≥ ≤ ≥ ≤ ≥≤ ≥ ≥ ≤ ≥ ≥ ≤ ≥ ÍÍÍ ≥ ≤ ≥ ≤ ≥ ≤ ÍÍÍ ÍÍÍÍÍÍÍÍ
≥≥ ≥

≥ ≥ P.M. ≥ ≤ ≥b3
b7≥ ≤ ≥ R
5 8 5 8 5 7 7 8 7 5 7 5 7 O
¢⁄ ¢⁄ t
5 6 7
7 5 7
5 7
5 7 5
5 7 5
5 b3 4 5 5

1 2 3 1 3 4 3 1 4 1 3 3 1 3 1 3 1
5 7
1 3
3 3
5 6

1 2
6 5
24 1
7 56
O 5
5 7
1 3
5 6

1 2 1

3 1 3 1 3 1 3 2 1
3 1 3 1 3 b7 R
5 fr

Ex. 11a Extended Minor Pentatonic Pattern Ex.11b
Ex. 11b Symmetrical Lineups (adding the major 3rd, b5th & major 7th)

t t
b3 4 b3 3 4

t t
b7 O R b7 7 O
t t
b3 4 5 b3 3 4 b5 5
5 b3 3
b7 O
5 fr
b7 7 O
5 fr

Ex. 11b Symmetrical Lineups (adding the major 3rd, b5th & major 7th)

° ### 4 œ œ 3œ 4 ÍÍÍÍÍ ° ### 4

Ex.1212 Ex. 13
nœ œ nb3
Ex. Ex.

& 4 j t œ œ œb3œnœ 3 4 b5 5 nœ œ ˙ Ót
A7 A7
œ œ œ b7 œ7 œ œO nœ #œ œbœ
3 3

3 3 3 3 3
3 3
& 4 œ b œ nœ nœ œ
n œ # œ n œ # œ
n œ œ n œ œ n œ b7 37 O nœ#œ œ œ œ#œnœ œ œ
R3 3 3

P.M. b3
≤ ≥b7 ≥7 ≥ O
≥ ≥

≥ ≥ ≥ ≥ ≥ ≥ ≤ ≥≥≥ ≥ ≥ ≤ ≥ ≥ ≥ ≥ ≥ ≥ ≥≥ ≥≥
R 8 10

¢⁄ ¢⁄
8 10 8 10
5 fr 7 5 7 9 79 5 5 6 8
7 5 7 5 7 7
5 3 5 7 5 3 4 3 4 6 7
3 5 3 5 3 4 5 5 5 4 3 5 5

3 3 1 3 3 1 3 1 2 1 3 1 3 1 3 1 3 1 3 1 3 1 3 1 1 2 3

° ### nœ œ œ nœ #œ œ œ n œ # œ
3 3 1 1 2 3 3 3 1 2 3 2 1 3 2

œ œ œ nœ œfij œ
& nœ œ Œ
3 3 3
≤ ≥ ≤ ≥ ≤ ≥ ≤8 ≥9 ≥ ≥ ≥≥ ≥


10 8 9 10 10 10 8
9 9 9 9 7 5

3 4 3 2 3 3 3 1 2 3 2 1 2 1 3

minor blues scale. Ex. 4a illustrates the A strings. The dotted line helps to illustrate dispatched with 1st- and 3rd-finger partial-
blues scale (A-C-D-Eb-E-G) transcribed in this “mini-box” cluster of notes. While barre techniques. Ex. 6b begins with some
scale degrees: root-b3-4- b5-5- b7. The inclu- not generally used as a featured note, the half-step bends on the top two strings and
sion of the b5 (Eb) provides a unique, chro- G# can serve very effectively as a passing ends with a double-stop bend. Careful here:
matic sequence of notes (half steps apart) tone, connecting the b7 (G) to the tonic Keep the strings parallel to each other as
that can be used for smooth “linking” pas- (A). This concept is demonstrated in Ex. you bend and release to pitch.
sages or edgy, angular-sounding phrases. 5b. Essentially a counterpart to the blues The next four examples combine all ele-
The lick in Ex. 5a features both of these lick in Ex. 5a, it fuels the original phrase ments discussed so far and are designed
qualities: The chromatic moves along the with more note choices. to complement the changes of a 12-bar
A string provide smooth passage between Let’s return to the neck diagram in Ex. 4b, blues in the key of A. Ex. 7 enhances
the fourth and fifth scale degrees (D and this time focusing on the top three strings. blues-scale licks with major-third embel-
E), while the rapid slide to and from the b5 Inserting the second and sixth scale degrees lishments, while Ex. 8 goes a step further
(Eb) on the G string provides the edginess. (B and F#, respectively) on the B and high with the inclusion of the major seventh
Ex. 4b depicts some “added note” con- E strings creates a symmetrical box shape, (G#) passing tone. Both of these examples
cepts that can really spice up your blues- that follows the contour of the pattern of are designed for the I7 chord (A7). The
scale licks. First, let’s look at the lower blues-scale notes established along the G next lick (Ex. 9) is constructed for the IV7
portion of the scale pattern, where the string (frets 5, 7 and 8). Again, a dotted chord (D7: D-F#-A-C). Based on the notes
insertion of the major seventh (G#) creates line is used to illustrate this symmetrical of the upper symmetrical box of Ex. 4b, it
a visually symmetrical lineup of match- lineup. Ex. 6a takes full advantage of this opens with a chromatic passage that tar-
ing chromatic passages along the A and D box with a series of double-stop maneuvers, gets the chord’s third (F#). This leads to

66 OCTOBER 20 1 8 G U I T A R P L A Y E R . C O M

a chord-tone dance involving the 5 (A), b7

° ### 4 ‰ œœbnœœ œœnnœœ nœœ

Ex. 14 (bridge humbucker; heavy overdrive)
Ex. 14
(C) and 3 (F#) of the chord, followed by a
œ nœ œ
œ œ œ œb œ œnœœ œ nœœ œœ Œ ‰ œj nnœœ œ œœ
A7 3

& 4 œ set of triple-stops that takes full advantage

of the symmetry of the pattern itself. Ex. 10
3 3 3 3 has its origins in the “blues scale/add major

≥ 1/4
≥≥ ≥ 1/2
≥ ≥≤ ≥ ≤ ≥≤ 7” pattern found on the lower strings of Ex.
4b and is custom tailored for the V7 chord

7 7 5 5 7 7 5 5 5
7 7 5
7 7
7 7 5
5 5 5
5 (E7: E-G#-B-D). Whereas the major 7 (G#)
7 7
is most often used as a passing note (see Ex.

° ### ÍÍÍÍÍ
3 1 3 1 3 3 3 1 3 1 1 3 1 3 1
3 1 1 3 1 1 1 1 1 4b), here it is exploited to “nail” the 3 of the
E7 chord change.
œ nœ œ bœ œ œ Œ ‰
3 3
& j
nœ œ œ nœ œ œ
œ nœ #œ œ
P.M. ¿

≥ ≤ ≥ ≥ ÍÍÍÍÍ
The next set of examples is for those who
≥ ≤ ≥ ≤ ≥ like to play “diagonally ” across the fret-

board. Ex. 11a depicts the A minor pentatonic
7 5 scale in an extended, or linear, pattern. This

A7 œ fij ÍÍÍ
7 6 5 3 5 3

œ ˙™
5 3 5 5 0 3 4 5 popular “stair-step” pattern invites speedy

° ###
3 1 3 2 1 3 1 3 1 3 1 2 3
5 legato passages such as the one in Ex. 12b.
œ œnœ œ œ#œ œ
D7 3 3 3 Now, witness what happens when you insert
& b œnœ œ œnœ œ œ œ the major 3, b5 and major 7 degrees into the
nœ œ œ œ œ œ œ
≤ ≥ ≤ ≥ *m ≥ m ≥ ≥ ≤5 ≥ ÍÍÍ
3 pattern (Ex. 11b). What could easily be mis-
≤ ≥≥≥ ≥ interpreted as a complicated mess of notes
can actually be organized into an intrigu-

5 9 10
7 5 5 7
5 5 6 ing trio of symmetrical boxes. Hanging out
5 3 3 0 5 6 7 7 in any of theses “economic” boxes can offer
1 3 1 1 1 2 3 3 3 1 1 3 3 3 1 1 2 1 1 4
plenty of melodic fuel to create interesting

œœ nn œœ ÍÍÍÍ
*snap up on string using middle finger of picking hand

licks. Check out Ex. 13 for an extended pas-
œ œ œœ
° ##
# n œ œ #œ
nœ œ n œ œ œ œ nœ#œ œ nœ#œ œ nœ#œ œ nœ#œ œ
sage that manipulates all three areas over an

& Œ‰ J J J J A7 tonality. Follow the fret-hand fingering

faithfully for the intended outcome.

3 3 3 3
≥8 ≥ ≤8 ≥ ≥ ≤≥ ≥ ≤≥ ≥ ≤≥ ≥ ≤≥
1/2 1 1


10 Now let’s put these ideas to the test in an

8 10 10
8 10 10 10 8 10 8 9 10 8 9 10 8 9 10 8 9 10
extended solo (Ex. 14). The setting is an upt-
empo (156 bpm) 12-bar blues shuffle in the
2 2 3 1 3 3 1 3 1 2 3 1 2 3 1 2 3 1 2 3

° ### n œ œ nœ œ œ œbœ œ nœ œ. œ œ œ nœ œ ÍÍÍÍÍÍÍ ‰ j

3 1 key of A. All chords are dominant sevens
11 A7 E7 — A7, D7 and E7 — and the form is two
12-bar choruses.
& œ œ œ œ The solo opens in fifth position (first
finger at the fifth fret) on a pair of bendy,
≥ ≥ ≥ÍÍÍÍÍ
3 3 3 3
≥8 ≥ ≥ ≥ ≥

≥ ≥ ≥
P.M. 1/4
double-stop phrases similar to those intro-
duced earlier in Ex. 6b. Remember to keep

10 8 8
9 9 8 7 5 7 7 8 7 5
5 the strings parallel as you bend them to pitch
7 5 with a third-finger partial barre. The dou-
1 3 1 2 1 3 2 1 3 3 1 3 1 3 3
ble-stop theme carries into measure 3 and

° ### 3
13 A7 is answered with a descending, blues-scale
3 3 3 3 3 3 3
lick that spills down into the lower-exten-
& nœ œ œ œ œ œ nœ
œ>œ>œ>œ>œ>œ> œ>œ>œ>œ >œ œ œ œ œ #œ nœ sion box described in Ex. 11b.
At the end of bar 4, a chromatic line on
P.M. P.M. P.M. P.M. P.M. P.M. P.M. P.M. P.M. P.M. P.M.
the low E string (launched with an open-
m ≥ m ≥ m ≥ m ≥ m ≥ m ≥ m ≥ m ≥ m ≥ m ≥ m ≥ string attack) anticipates the IV7 chord

change (D7), dances around the lower-exten-
5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 7 6
7 7 7 7 7 7 7 7 7 7 9 9 8 sion box and shifts back up to fifth position
1 3 1 3 1 3 1 3 1 3 1 3 1 3 1 3 1 3 1 3 1 3 in measure 6. A rhythmic motif (repeating
G U I T A R P L A Y E R . C O M OCTOBER 2 018 67

For audio of this lesson, go to

° ### ÍÍÍ Œ
Ex. 14 cont. to stay in the rhythm “pocket.” The first
œ œ n œ œ œ œnœœœ bœ chorus goes out with a fiery turnaround

‰J œ œnœ œ œ
3 3 phrase — a lick specifically designed for
& nœ œ. œ. œ œ œ œ
> > > n œ. >. >. œ # œ
the last two measures of a 12-bar blues

> > — that scoots from the upper-extension

ÍÍÍ m m m m m m m
3 3 3
m ≤ ≥ ≥ ≥ ≥≤ 1/2 box back down to fifth position. This one
5 7 8 7 5 is pure blues scale in construction, with

7 875
7 87 5 5 heavy exploitation of the b5 (Eb). Follow
5 7 5 7 the fret-hand fingering and legato moves
7 5 3 5 5 3

strictly here, but feel free to experiment

1 3 1 3 1 3 3 1 1 3 4 3 1 3 4 3 1 3 4 3 1 3 1

° ### 3
with the picking directions.
18 A7 œ nœ œ œ#œfij

& nœœœ œbœ œ œ j j fi œnœ #œ ¿
Whereas the first chorus was struc-
nœ œ œ œ œ
j tured in four-bar, call-and-response fash-
fi œ œ
nœ ion, the second chorus comes off more

≥ ≥ ≥ÍÍÍ ≥

≥ ≥ÍÍÍ ≥ ≥ ≥ ≤ ≥ ≥ ≥ ≥ 16≤
P.M. like two guitarists “headcutting” (play-
ing one-upmanship) in two-bar tradeoffs.

10 8 9 15 The first phrase (measures 13 and 14) is a
7 5 X 9
575 5 7 5 two-note cycle (G and E) played with an
7 6 5 7
1 3 1 3 2 1
3 5 5 3 3 1 2 2 3
aggressive hybrid-picking attack. Played in
1 3 1 3 1 3 4 1
eighth-note triplet rhythms, it takes on an

E7 intriguing offset feel (be sure to mute the
nœ œ œ œ œ
° ###
21 œœ # œ œ nœ œ
nœ A-string pick attacks). The passage ends
œ ‰ J œ œbœœnœœ
by moving the two-note pattern up two
& frets and climbing back down chromati-
3 cally. The “answering” lick (measures 15
≥ 16≤ ≥ 14≤ 16≥ 14 ≥ ≥ 14≤ 12≥
≥≤ ≥ ≥5 ≥ ≥ ≥≥ ≥
and 16) is a quarter-note, triplet-infused

≥ pentatonic passage fortified with aggres-


15 15 15 13 13 13 8585 sive string pulls (snap up on the string
14 87 5
14 7 with your middle finger). The subsequent
2 3 2 1 3 1 2 2 3 1 3 2 3 4 1 4 1 4 1 4 3 1 3 IV7-chord lick (measures 17 and 18) takes

° ### nœ #œ nœ
full advantage of both symmetrical boxes
24 U described in Ex. 4b. Basically, a sizzling run

& nœ œ œœ œœ ˙˙ down every possible note in this “com-

œ ˙
posite” scale pattern, it’s initiated with
matching hammer-pull-pull legato moves
≥ ≥ ≥ ≥
on the top three strings.
A simple, yet effective melodic/rhyth-

5 6 5 5 2 mic motif passage (measures 19 and 20)
5 7 4 2
0 supplies a nice contrast to the preceding
1 2 1 3 2 1
1 1 1 lick. A and G notes fuel the melodic theme,
while two shuffled eighth notes provide
rhythm pattern) and hybrid-picking tech- The V7 chord (E7) arrives in measure 9, the rhythmic foundation. The penultimate
niques are the highlights of this measure. and we hang out in the upper-extension box phrase (measures 21 and 22) zips way up
Regarding the latter, hold the pick with for a tricky double-stop bend on the B and the neck for a chord-tone-related move
your thumb and index finger, and use your high E strings. When you go to bend the over the E7 chord. Juggling the b7 (D), 3
middle finger to pluck the G string with a high E string with your third finger, allow it (G#) and 9 (F#) of the chord, the lick drops
quick, aggressive attack. Bar 7 marks the to snag and take the adjacent B string along down two frets to follow suit for the cor-
return to the I7 chord (A7), and the fran- for the ride, then strike both strings and responding chord tones of D7 and caps off
tic pace lightens somewhat with a minor- return them to pitch. A cycled, chromatic with a three-note burst from the A minor
pentatonic-plus-major-third lick that slides lick targets the fifth (A) of the IV7 chord in pentatonic scale in 12th position.
into the upper-extension box described in measure 10. The suggested picking direc- The curtain-closing lick finds us back
Ex. 11b. Follow the fret-hand fingering sug- tion is designed for a powerful attack on the in fifth position with a blistering, major-
gestions carefully, as it is much easier to downbeats, but if the tempo feels too fast, third-infused A blues-scale phrase. Okay,
handle the high E-string bend with the go ahead and use alternate picking (consis- who won the duel on that second chorus?
second finger rather than the first! tent down-up-down-up motion). The aim is Votes, please!

68 OCTOBER 20 1 8 G U I T A R P L A Y E R . C O M

Whether he is recording Mark Knopfler or learning a

new plug-in, award-winning recording engineer Chuck
Ainlay always acquires the music software he uses
from legitimate sources. Chuck believes in fair play
and works exclusively with legal software.

Respect yourself, your craft, and the work of others.

Buy the software you use, and buy the music you love.
International Music Software Trade Association
New York • Toronto • Hamburg • Tokyo
Tel: 416 789-6849 • Fax: 416 789-1667
The International Music Software Trade Association is a non-profit organization that represents the interests of music software and soundware publishers.
One of our most important functions is to advocate for the legal use of software in the music production and creation landscape. We do this primarily
through public education campaigns. We are supported by our members who are software and soundware developers, distributors, retailers & publications.
We are challenging piracy on moral grounds appealing to the good in all of us. We are trying to change behavior.
Echopark Detroit Gold Rose

OVER THE PAST several years, Gabriel Cur-

rie’s Echopark guitars featured on stage in the
hands of many top-line players, including Aero-
smith’s Joe Perry and Brad Whitford, Queens of
the Stone Age guitarist Josh Homme, Jackson
Browne, Jakob Dylan and Social Distortion’s
Jonny “Two Bags” Wickersham. Although he
only established Echopark in 2012, Currie’s cre-
dentials extend back decades, beginning with a
stint in the 1980s at G&L in Fullerton, California,
under the auspices of Leo Fender.
Currie’s reverence for Fender, the man (as
well as the company) is reflected in the instru-
ment shown here the new Echopark Detroit
Gold Rose. The guitar sports the body shape
of a long-running Echopark model dubbed “the
Clarence”— in tribute to his old boss and mentor,
Clarence Leonidas Fender — and is, in effect, a

SC HOOL . H O N EST LY, Gabriel Currie silk-screens the Victorian-era rose pattern on a Gold Rose guitar body

THAT’S TH E O N LY those Teles and thinking, Wow, that’s awesome!” for a Saks Fifth Avenue fashion show and charity
WAY I KN OW HOW Currie says. “I really loved how intricate and del- event, in conjunction with Detroit Music Week-
icate the design looked, but the way Fender did end, in the Michigan city where Echopark now
TO DO IT. I COUL D N ’ T it back then was they used actual wallpaper and resides. “All the guitars sold immediately,” he
WRAP MY HEA D just glued it to the top of the guitar. I owned a says, “but I held onto the Gold Rose.”
’68 for a bit, and if you’ve ever played one of The guitar features a body of super-light-
AROUN D CNC ST UFF those Teles, they’re kind of dense and plunky, weight old-stock swamp ash, upon which Currie
IF I TR IED ” and not very resonant. They weren’t very good applies the rose design — a Victorian textile pat-
instruments, so I wanted to capture the essence tern — using a silk-screening process. The base
wider, longer take on a Telecaster. The rose pat- of the design but do it right this time.” color goes down first, and once that layer is dry
tern on its front serves as a nod both to Currie’s Currie has been building instruments sport- to the touch, he screens the rose print on top of
daughter, whose middle name is Rose, and an ing the rose pattern for years. The first example, it. “Then I do another burst to tie in the pattern
old, short-lived Fender design: the 1968 Pais- a 2012 semihollow Clarence, went to Joe Perry. with the sides of the guitar,” Currie says. “That’s
ley Telecaster. “I remember seeing Elvis Pres- The Gold Rose came about more recently when what give the roses that ‘appears to disappear’
ley’s guitar player James Burton sporting one of he was commissioned to build a run of guitars kind of look.” The intent, he says, “is to have the


> Echopark Detroit Gold Rose $6,800 (direct); All guitars are custom-made and include lifetime warranty to the original owner.

70 OCTOBER 20 1 8 G U I T A R P L A Y E R . C O M
G U I T A R P L A Y E R . C O M OCTOBER 2 018 71
Newly finished guitar bodies dry at the Echopark shop

design not be just something aesthetic. I want

it to be part of the instrument and really give
it character.”
On the Gold Rose, that character is rounded
out by a number of high-end woods and appoint-
ments. A neck of old-stock figured big-leaf
maple and a fretboard of milled old-stock Bra-
zilian rosewood complement the swamp ash
body. Hardware includes a five-ply tortoiseshell
pickguard, a milled stainless-steel neck plate, a
raw steel hardtail 1/2 bridge plate with intonat-
ing saddles, and Gotoh Ivoroid button tuners.
Additionally, the guitar sports a pair of custom
pickups: a ’57 Goldie PAF clone in the neck and,
in the bridge, a Gold Coil humbucker designed
by Currie in conjunction with Rob Timmons of
Arcane Pickups. The Gold Coil, Currie says, “is
sort of like a Super’Tron meets a vintage PAF.
It’s hollow and chime-y but with a really tight,
focused midrange and great crispiness. I use
it in a lot of the guitars I’ve made for Joe Perry Like all Echopark guitars, it was hand-built rose guitars — holds a particularly special place
and Josh Homme.” by Currie and his small team in Detroit, with in Currie’s heart. “The initial idea sprung from my
The pickups are controlled by a Switchcraft no CNC machines in sight. “Everything’s old- attraction to the Paisley Tele, but then it turned
three-way toggle and single Bakelite volume school,” Currie says. “Honestly, that’s the only into a way to honor both my daughter and Leo.
and tone knobs from the instrument panel of way I know how to do it. I couldn’t wrap my head So it feels very full circle to me,” he says. “At the
an aircraft carrier. “You can see that they go around CNC stuff if I tried. I’m a pretty hands- same time, it’s a static pattern, but it will never
to 24,” Currie adds with a laugh. “I have a little on kind of guy. Plus, we do smaller runs, which get boring. It’s always evolving and changing. A
stash of those knobs, and I use them from time gives me more control over overall quality and customer can personalize it, but it still maintains
to time when I feel the instrument is unique also greater freedom to create — because you its identity, and it evokes a certain emotion when
enough to deserve them.” want each guitar to be special.” you look at it. It’s really satisfying to be able to
The Gold Rose is clearly one such instrument. To that end, the Gold Rose — and all the build guitars like that.”

72 OCTOBER 20 1 8 G U I T A R P L A Y E R . C O M

74 OCTOBER 20 1 8 G U I T A R P L A Y E R . C O M
David Barrett and author Vinnie DeMasi at the ancient ruins of Mayapan near Hacienda Sotuta
de Peón. OPPOSITE: Barrett serenades the spirits of the pre-Columbian site

Yucatán Jam

TURN ON MOST news channels or visit any Platinum Blonde, Rush guitarist Alex Lifeson
social media site and it becomes distressingly and Saga lead vocalist Michael Sadler, Bar-
obvious that we live in a world of increasingly rett sees the retreat as a natural extension of
polarized political rhetoric, with the near-con- the annual weekend guitar summits he hosted
stant bombardment of corporate consumerism. at the Ravenswood Estate in his home prov-
And yet, almost as an organic counterbalance, ince of Ontario.
there’s an observable movement of people seek- Eschewing traditional Yucatán destina-
ing a more conscious and holistic approach to tions such as Cancún and Cozumel, the retreat
living. This is evidenced by the growing popu- is located several hours inland at Sotuta de
larity of yoga, meditation, organic foods and Peón, a formerly abandoned hacienda/agave
less dogmatic spirituality. plantation now converted into a living museum
To help serve those in the music and art and resort. Unlike other “guitar boot camps,”
community searching for a more meaningful the Consciousness Through Music and Medita-
and interactive experience of self-discovery, tion retreat is less focused on the intense prac-
veteran travel agents Cathleen Johnson and tice of scales and notes and more interested in
Michael Paul Halle have paired with Canadian improving and refining musicians’ headspaces.
guitarist David Barrett to create the Conscious- “We wanted to put together an experience
ness Through Music and Meditation retreat, a where the travel has a purpose and offers an
semi-annual gathering in Yucatán, Mexico, that opportunity to study a new field while discov-
focuses on a mindful approach to better living ering a more introspective approach to living,”
through music. A well-traveled axe man who Barrett explains. “We’re cross-training the mind.
has previously toured and/or recorded with The idea being that if you study a different

G U I T A R P L A Y E R . C O M OCTOBER 2 018 75
Children play with the musicians’ guitars after a free concert for the village of Sotuta de Peón

discipline, the main discipline that you prac-

tice will improve too, by default and/or osmo- “ WH E N YOU R
sis. There have been times I’ve come to a
creative block and the solution for pushing
past it wasn’t more practice — it was seek- A L EV E L O F H I GH E R
ing outside inspiration and a new way to
approach the creative process. As a result, I
find that my composing more directly reflects T HE AU D I E NC E
my personality and how I’m feeling and isn’t
just an exercise in technique. When your art
IN T U I T I V E LY Barrett performs at the concert
comes from a level of higher consciousness, F E E LS I T ”
the audience intuitively feels it.”
Barrett says he has been inspired by Hazrat response. By practicing meditation and visualiza-
Inayat Kahn’s book The Mysticism of Sound tion, we learn to relax, be present in the moment
and Music, a tome that Pete Townsend also and give our full attention to the physical process
cited as a huge influence on his approach to we’re engaged in.” 
composing. “And even when dealing with The retreat’s de-emphasis on the mechanics
the purely mechanical aspects of music of making music allows people of all skill levels
making, consciousness training can help to participate and benefit. Beginners and hob-
raise your game,” Barrett says. “For exam- byists find common ground with accomplished
ple, when playing a difficult passage in front veterans and professionals. Steve Miller Band Once an agave plantation, Hacienda Sotuta
of a live audience, our natural tendency is to bassist Kenny Lee Lewis attended a previous de Peón has been restored as a resort and
become tense and activate our fight-or-flight retreat and notes, “The way I felt the spirits here living museum

76 OCTOBER 20 1 8 G U I T A R P L A Y E R . C O M
TOP: Guests of Hacienda Sotuta de Peón
can walk out of their front door and into their
own private splash pool ABOVE: The nearby
ruins at Mayapan are hours away from popu-
(Left to right) Paul Reid, Kenny Lee Lewis, Lili Duska, Barrett and Joaquín Escarrá perform lar travel hubs and usually free of tourists

was through the animals. The morning doves The central Yucatán’s economy was once
that woke me up seemed to be nagging me a “ BY P RACT I C I NG driven by the agave plant’s fibrous innards,
little, saying, ‘Hey man, what are you doing?
M E DI TAT I O N AND which were used for rope making. Unfortu-
Get busy living or get busy dying. You have the nately, the introduction of synthetic plastics
talent. You have the equipment. Get back in the VISUAL I ZAT I O N, W E for rope brought hard times to this once-thriv-
studio and make beautiful music.’ Meanwhile, ing region. Many of the old, abandoned hacien-
the iguanas — which are fairly ubiquitous and das have been converted into resorts, however,
fairly huge here — were like the ancient Mayan B E P R ES E NT I N T H E and locals hope tourism, as well as a market for
kings, calmly perched on the rocks saying, ‘We’ve environmentally conscious biodegradable rope,
been around for ages and we’ll be around long
M O M E NT AND GI V E will help revitalize the area.
after you’re gone.’ It reminded me to make the OU R F U L L AT T E NT I O N Barrett sees the parallel between the region’s
most of my short time here on Earth.” economic transformation and his personal trans-
The hacienda of Sotuta de Peón is within
TO T H E P H YS I CAL formation as well. “I’ve been playing guitar for
traveling distance of ancient Mayan ruins PRO C ESS W E ’ R E over 40 years,” he explains. “There came a point
and offers traditional Mayan therapies such as where practicing more scales and techniques
cenote bathing in underground limestone sink-
E NGAGE D I N” was offering diminishing returns. It was here that
holes, and temazcal, or sweat lodge, ceremo- consciousness study took me to the next level.”
nies. Barrett’s own connection to Spanish music On the retreat’s final night, Barrett gave an He believes others will find the experience
goes back to the 12-string laúd he purchased in impromptu concert at the neighboring Haci- at the retreat as powerful. Kenny Lee Lewis, for
the early ’90s. A traditional Spanish variant of enda Community of Sotuta de Peón’s town one, agrees with him. “Come here with no pre-
the lute, the laúd may be best known to guitar- center, where I was fortunate to be able to join conceived notions,” the bassist advises. “But
ists as the instrument Steve Howe used during him and his young student Brooke Marshall- expect to be transformed.”
the “Your Move” section of Yes’s classic “I’ve Robert on a few tunes. Our spirited jamming Upcoming Consciousness Through Music
Seen All Good People” suite, and it has become attracted many of the locals, including a few and Meditation retreats with David Barrett are
a mainstay on many of Barrett’s solo and DB3 children who were thrilled at the opportunity scheduled for December 1–8, 2018, and March
(David Barrett Trio) releases. to try out our guitars afterward.  5–12, 2019. For more info visit 

78 OCTOBER 20 1 8 G U I T A R P L A Y E R . C O M

an acoustic revolution:
Your very own hyper-portable,
Pocket-size concert hall.


To the great delight of many guitarists, Supro which is currently on loan to the Rock and Roll traditionally achieved with a short jumper cable.
has successfully revamped its popular vintage Hall of Fame. I tested the head with the matching 1x12 cab,
amp line. To make players even happier, the The head reviewed here takes the corner- but other options include the Black Magick 1x15
company has set about reimagining some of stone dual 6973 output tubes, that power the and 2x12 extension cabs, or you can pair it with
its original designs to incorporate features that most revered original Supros, and wraps them a cab of your choice.
better suit the needs of modern players. All the in a package that affords more flexibility for Many players mistakenly think of 6973 tubes
while Supro are ensuring these modern incarna- the guitarist who works a range of stage and as being similar to EL84s because they use the
tions retain the essential elements of that irre- studio dates. Additions to the existing Black same nine-pin sockets and are housed in sim-
sistible lightning-bolt style and tone. Magick layout include a two-knob EQ, a tube- ilar-sized bottles. In fact, they sound very dif-
Among the latest models to receive a thoughtful driven reverb and a master-volume control, ferent and have a signature tone that can’t be
revision are the 1695RTH Black Magick Reverb although the model’s bias-modulating Trem- achieved with another commonly available
head and 1790 Black Magick 1x12 speaker cab- olo is retained. Another nifty upgrade from the output tube. This is perhaps best heard in their
inet. The Black Magick name derives from a original Valco-made Supro models is the 1+2 meaty, muscular midrange drive, good balance
favorite Supro combo of Jimmy Page’s, fre- input, which internally jumpers the two chan- throughout the audio spectrum and surpris-
quently used on Led Zeppelin studio dates and nels to produce the popular boost and voicing ingly punchy, bold performance for their total

80 OCTOBER 20 1 8 G U I T A R P L A Y E R . C O M

wattage rating. Inside, the Black Magick Reverb grind, the master is a major bonus; otherwise, this S P E C I F I C AT I O N S

displays the rugged PCB construction that we’ve thing is a loud 25 watts, for sure. Thick, thump- CONTACT
seen from other models in the rejuvenated line. The ing and somewhat warm leaning, it has enough 1695RTH Black Magick Reverb
partially open-back cab is made from void-free sparkle when you need it to jangle and chime. It’s PRICE $1,129 street
poplar, measures 20.5 by 18.75 by 8.75 the essence of garage rock but makes a CHANNELS Two
inches and is loaded with a punchy contender, within the CONTROLS Vol 1, vol 2, treb, bass,
12-inch British-voiced Supro band mix, for just about any verb, speed, depth, master
BD12 speaker at 8Ω and 75 breed of rock and roll. POWER 25 watts
watts power handling. Thanks to these character- TUBES Four 12AX7s, one 12AT7,
Tested with a Gibson istics, the new Black Magick is two 6973 output tubes
Custom Shop 1958 Les Paul a great platform to push over EXTRAS Footswitch for tremolo and
Reissue with humbuckers and the top with your favorite drive reverb, dual outputs for 4 ohms and 8
a Novo Serus J with P-90s. pedals. It loved the TS9 Tube ohms, and single output for 16 ohms
This new Supro rig delivered Screamer, Wampler Tumnus SPEAKER 1790 Black Magick 1x12
a tone that was throaty, bold Deluxe and JHS Angry Charlie cabinet ($485 street)
and commanding, with an that I tested it with. The reverb WEIGHT Head, 28 lbs; cab, 32 lbs
appealingly raw edge to the sounds great and the trem is BUILT USA
breakup when cranked. But particularly sweet and evoca- KUDOS Captures the classic Supro
there’s a ton of headroom tive. All in all, the Black Magick punch and grind with several
available too, which might sur- Reverb proved an appealing well-conceived updates for modern players
prise players unfamiliar with and well-designed rig, and one CONCERNS The tubes might be a
this Supro format. For those that stands out onstage as a touch tricky for some users to replace,
wanting more controllable stunning piece of equipment. due to the inset socket mounts

G U I T A R P L A Y E R . C O M OCTOBER 2 018 81

The Hamer Sunburst Flat Top (top)

and Monaco Special K (bottom)


FOR 39 YEARS, Hamer Guitars were a favor- 1973 are likely to receive these affordable cre- includes a double-cutaway design, a flat (non-
ite of artists and weekend warriors alike, who ations with a welcoming smile. I tested both arched) flame-maple top in cherry sunburst on
wielded the company’s instruments as bet- through a Carr Mercury V combo and a Fried- a solid mahogany back, a glued-in mahogany
ter-made alternatives to similar offerings from man Small Box with 2x12 cab. neck with an unbound ebony fretboard, a 24.75-
major manufacturers. Despite its stellar repu- inch scale length, through-body stringing via a
tation, the U.S. guitar maker dissolved in the SU N BU RST FLAT TOP six-saddle bridge and a pair of humbuckers.
shifting guitar market of 2012. The Sunburst model name has a long history at The pickups are Hamer’s own Zebra Hard
But you can’t keep a good brand down, and Hamer, having originally graced the guitar that Rock models (throw up those horns, people!).
last year the Hamer name reappeared on a the company saw as its cleverly reconfigured, They’re wired through the control section with
small lineup of import-only guitars. The roster double-cutaway update of the Gibson Les Paul. individual volume and master tone controls
has been expanded for 2018 with another two Similarly, if confusingly, the model name Stan- and a three-way switch that further recalls the
models that are fresh to these shores. There’s dard was given to Hamer’s early Explorer-like company’s Explorer and V-fueled beginnings
no renewed American production — not yet, design due to its flamed top, sunburst finish and (as does the signature “trimmed-down “open-
anyway — but fans of the style and attitude that body binding. The ingredients in the Sunburst book” headstock”). Internal wiring is tidy, and
Joel Dantzig and Paul Hamer founded back in Flat Top will be familiar to most Hamer-philes. It while the Sunburst Flat Top uses the smaller

82 OCTOBER 20 1 8 G U I T A R P L A Y E R . C O M

S P E C I F I C AT I O N S generic potentiometers found on many offshore has been carved into the same rounded
guitars, it has the bonus of featuring a durable but full “C” profile as the Sunburst, and
CONTACT enclosed barrel jack. The woods are all nice-look- it carries an unbound ebony fretboard.
ing cuts, and the neck is constructed with a scarf The bridge is a Wilkinson wraparound
Sunburst Flat Top joint extending toward the headstock from behind with an adjustable B- and G-string
PRICE $699 street the 2nd and 3rd frets. Carved to a rounded C pro- saddle section. A pair of Hamer P-90s
NUT WIDTH 1 11/16” graphite file, the neck has a decent amount of heft to it. populate the engine room, routed through
NECK Mahogany Straight out of the box, the guitar needed to individual volume controls, a master tone
FRETBOARD Ebony, 24.75” scale have its bridge saddles lowered and truss rod tight- and a three-way switch. Like the Sunburst
FRETS 22 medium ened slightly — normal setup stuff your dealer or Flat Top, my Monaco Special K test model
TUNERS Die-cast OEM distributor should take care of — after which it wanted its bridge lowered to achieve a civ-
BODY Flame-maple top with mahogany back played smoothly and evenly, with no hitch from ilized playing action, but proved an easy,
BRIDGE Through-body hardtail bridge the nicely dressed frets. Plugged in, the Sunburst enjoyable ride once it got there.
with individually adjustable saddles Flat Top easily dished out the muscular tones for There’s something magical about the
PICKUPS Two Hamer Hard Rock humbuckers which it was intended. Playing the guitar through the combination of slightly gritty, edgy P-90
CONTROLS Independent volume and Friedman, I coaxed everything from meaty power- pickups and the granular, textured swirl of
master tone controls, three-way switch chord crunch to sizzling bridge-pickup leads, and a korina guitar, and the two come together
FACTORY STRINGS D’Addario .010–.046 teased more nuanced blues-rock inflected ram- again beautifully in the Monaco Special K
WEIGHT 7.9 lbs bles with it plugged into the Carr combo. These (which is quite a revelation at this price!).
BUILT Indonesia are hot pickups (14.52kΩ bridge and 9.12kΩ neck), Hamer has wisely kept these pickups to
KUDOS A powerful and appealing rock so they’re not inclined to clean up much. Yet the a medium wind (8.28kΩ bridge
machine at a reasonable price, capable of neck pickup sounded respectfully warm, reedy and and 7.96kΩ neck), so there’s
some sizzling crunch and lead tones musical through the Carr when set just shy of good clarity and articu-
CONCERNS Setup may need to be breakup. While the bridge easily pushed the lation amid the grind
adjusted for optimal playability same amp settings over into raw, rootsy snarl. and a delectable, multi-
Plugged into the Friedman’s lead channel, dimensional chewiness,
though, these pickups issued impressive when you dig in for
sustain and incendiary grind that took the leads with some
Sunburst Flat Top back to the arena stage, gain applied. In short,
where it is clearly most at home, confirming it this is a rock and roll
a very able performer at this price. machine through and
CONTACT through. The bridge
M O N ACO S P EC IAL K pickup can be mean
Monaco Special K The Monaco is a slightly later, but also long- and snarky, or sweet
PRICE $699 street running style from Hamer, that mutated into and nuanced with the
NUT WIDTH 1 11/16” graphite several variations over the years. The Monaco volume eased back, while
NECK Korina Special K takes the last part of its name from the neck pickup is throaty
FRETBOARD Ebony, 24.75” scale its Les Paul Special–like shape, appointments and rich. Between those extremes,
FRETS 22 medium and 24.75-inch scale, and the fact that it’s made the Monaco Special K is roundly snappy, with
TUNERS Die-cast OEM from korina (rather than, say, breakfast cereal) the bonus of hum cancelling. This guitar is a
BODY Korina – thus echoing the moniker applied to a Hamer big performer for the money and all the
BRIDGE Wilkinson wraparound with Custom Shop model circa 2005. more fun for its functional simplicity.
individually adjustable saddles Rarely seen in guitars costing In conclusion, the Sunburst Flat
PICKUPS Hamer P-90 single-coils less than $1,000, korina is often Top and Monaco Special K repre-
CONTROLS Independent volume and described as being like a lighter-col- sent two welcome additions to Ham-
tone controls with push-pull coil split- ored mahogany. But, it has a sweeter er’s rejuvenated offshore lineup, and
ting and three-way switch and more textured midrange (I some- each offers timeless styling and solid
FACTORY STRINGS D’Addario .010–.046 times hear it as “chewy,” or “swirly”), performance at a very reasonable
WEIGHT 7.3 lbs with a silkier zing in the highs. It is price. Although the Sunburst has
BUILT Indonesia often significantly lighter, too, a the fancier looks, I was particu-
KUDOS Impressively rich and tex- perk for a lot of guitarists. This larly taken with the sonic per-
tured P-90-meets-korina tones that model’s body is made from sonality that gushed from the
are rarely accessible at this price two pieces of the honey-hued Monaco Special K’s marriage of
CONCERNS Setup may need to be Central American timber. Its P-90 pickups and korina tone-
adjusted for optimal playability neck is from a single piece that wood. Tasty stuff!

G U I T A R P L A Y E R . C O M OCTOBER 2 018 83

IK Multimedia
The iRig Stomp I/O can operate
as a stand-alone MIDI control-
ler or connect with your phone,
tablet or laptop (below)

IK MULTIMEDIA HAS long been at the fore- a rubber lip that secures your device in the bay monitoring. Input gain and output volume are
front in providing iOS audio/MIDI interface solu- — just one indicator of the thought that went controlled on the front panel. The iRig Stomp
tions for guitarists, but the company’s new iRig into designing this product. I/O also comes with more than $800 worth of
Stomp I/O ($299) takes it to another level. The Your guitar enters a 1/4-inch XLR combo software and apps, including AmpliTube for
USB pedalboard controller integrates a pro- jack, is passed through a phone, tablet or laptop, Mac/PC and iOS.
fessional 96kHz/24-bit audio interface and and sent out through two balanced stereo out- You can find more features and specs on the
Class A preamp with MIDI I/O for iPhone, iPad, puts. You can connect to external amps, DAW IK website, but I want to get right into the experi-
Mac and PC. mixers and PA systems, and there’s a ence. First I tried the Stomp I/O with an iPad as a
IK Multimedia is located in Italy, not far from 1/4-inch stereo headphone virtual pedalboard into two combos. Booting
the Ferrari auto factory, and this piece of gear out for silent up AmpliTube, shutting off the amp sim-
is as sleek, solid and stylish as a Berlinetta. It ulation and just using the virtual fuzz,
features four onboard metal stomp overdrive, wah and delay, I experi-
switches, plus an expression pedal enced no discernable latency.
with a virtual switch, all with Assigning switching and con-
LED indicators. You can con- tinuous controllers in Ampli-
nect two additional switches Tube iOS was simple. I just
or pedals, and the MIDI IN/ had to hold my finger (very
OUT ports allow you to control still) on the virtual switch,
external processors using iRig knob or rocker pedal I
Stomp I/O as a stand-alone MIDI wished to control until an
foot controller. The device bay is a assign-learn screen appeared, and
unique feature that provides a place then hit the appropriate hardware switch or
to charge your iOS device. It even has rock the onboard expression pedal. Other iOS

84 OCTOBER 20 1 8 G U I T A R P L A Y E R . C O M

S P E C I F I C AT I O N S apps I used have different methods of assign-

ing MIDI, but all instantly recognized Stomp I/O
CONTACT as a controller.
IK Multimedia iRig Stomp I/O Plugging into my iMac to use the Stomp I/O
PRICE $299 as a USB-powered audio interface and MIDI
CONTROLS Expression pedal, 4 footswitches, switcher was just as easy. Ableton Live recog-
input gain control and output volume control nized it as both audio and MIDI sources. Assign-
POWER USB or DC Adaptor ing the Stomp I/O’s expression pedal to the
CONNECTIONS Neutrik Combo socket for mic frequency parameter of Live’s Auto Filter gave
and instrument input (auto selecting), +48V phan- me a unique sounding wah effect. traditional sounds, whether created by hard-
tom power switch, 1/4” headphones output, 2 x More and more guitarists are comfortable ware or modeling, with some of the granular
1/4” TRS balanced floating line outputs, MIDI input/ using modeling systems in live and studio sit- and spectral processing available in iOS apps,
output, 2 x TRS External controllers sockets, B-type uations, while the new, powerful tablets let but as yet unavailable in pedal form. Whatever
USB (for Mac/PC), Mini-DIN iOS connector, Barrel players carry all that pro- system you prefer, Stomp I/O helps point the
DC-in socket for power and charging devices cessing power in a gig bag. way to the future by providing a well-built, full
EXTRAS Software bundle (includes AmpliTube 4 For me, the excitement lies featured, easy-to-use controller that earns an
Deluxe and T-RackS 5 mixing and mastering suite), in being able to augment Editors’ Pick Award.
Device bay with charging capability, lightning to
Mini-DIN cable, USB A-type to USB-type cable
KUDOS A great way to control the new wave of iOS
apps for guitar

Precise Tuning.
Every String.

39:1 24:1 20:1 14:1 Acoustic

35:1 Electric 20:1 12:1


G U I T A R P L A Y E R . C O M OCTOBER 2 01 8 85


COMBINING MULTIPLE EFFECTS in one much the opposite. Auditioned with a Tele and a Fender Deluxe Reverb reissue as well as with
box is a good way to maximize pedalboard space a pair of new Teye Gypsy Queen guitars (one smaller tube amps, such as a mid-’60s Champ
and can result in better interaction between with dual humbuckers and other with a trio of and a ’50s-era Premier. With a few tweaks, it
effects than chaining two or more single-effect P-90s), the distortion sounds were meaty and also did a good job of replicating the badass-
pedals together. The new Bête Noire ($300 street) savage, in a good way, of course. Activating the ness of an Electro-Harmonix Big Muff driving into
pairs distortion and analog phasing in a conve- brown switch adds tube-like richness and girth an MXR Phase 90. The Bête Noire’s depth and
nient package that features a Variac (gain) con- that is super satisfying, but if you prefer more speed controls work beautifully in tandem with
trol, a switchable brown mode, Chomp (bass) upper-midrange emphasis and less compres- the OD circuit to unleash harmonically engorged
and high controls, a scan switch for activating sion, just leave brown off. swirl at speeds that can travel from blurry fast to
the modulation, sweep and speed knobs, and Gain adjusting is done via the Variac knob, sloth-like crawl. Having the ability to blend the
mix and level controls. The metal enclosure has and this circuit — which simulates the effect of phasing and distortion in just-right proportions
a silent true-bypass footswitch, an external- lowering an amp’s operating voltage to increase is very handy, and while a slight drop in volume
power jack, and a board-mounted receptacle distortion — provides a ton of sustain when was noticeable when the phasing was switched
for a 9-volt battery that is accessed by remov- turned up. EQ-wise, the passive high control is on, it’s barely an issue because this pedal has
ing the bottom plate. There’s an LED for bypass nicely complemented by the Chomp knob, an output to spare. Bottom line, the Bête Noire is
status and another LED that illuminates when active “bass attack control” that delivers low- an aggressive OD machine that lives up to its
the phasing is activated and blinks in time with end mass to the point that I never needed to name as a killer choice for hard rock and metal.
the speed setting. turn it more than halfway up. KUDOS A potent pairing of distortion and
Although the term bête noire (literally trans- The Bête Noire is great for players who like analog phase shifting
lated as “black beast”) has come to mean some- that juicy combination of phase shifter and over- CONCERNS None.
thing that is detested, the pedal itself is very driven British amp. The pedal sounded cool with CONTACT

86 OCTOBER 20 1 8 G U I T A R P L A Y E R . C O M


THE NEW OCEANS 11 Multifunction Digital Infinite jack. At the same time, you can indepen-
Reverb ($147 street) is the most powerful com- dently use and control a reverb of the same type
pact reverb Electro-Harmonix has produced. with the time and tone knobs. The pedal’s buff-
Its control set includes FX level, time and tone ered-bypass footswitch also doubles as a tap-
knobs, an 11-position reverb type selector, and a tempo button when the echo setting (actually
mode switch that provides up to three different echo plus reverb) is active. With this setting, the
options for many, though not all, of the effects, mode button selects between three different
significantly expanding the Ocean’s palette of subdivisions of the tapped echo time — ¼, ½, ¾
sounds. The pedal also has an Infinite function — with different color LED indications for each.
that allows the selected reverb to play in the The tone control varies the feedback (number
background ad infinitum, while you hold down of repeats), and you can have endless repeats
the bypass switch, or when an external momen- with zero degradation in sound.
tary footswitch (not included) is connected to The Oceans 11 has a trem setting as well, and
here the mode button provides three waveshape
choices — sine, triangle and square — while the
FX level knob adjusts reverb mix, tone alters
depth, and time varies the trem speed. There’s
no tap-tempo in this setting.
The selection of reverbs includes familiar
ones such as hall, plate, reverse and mod (mod-
ulated), as well as more advanced types like
Dyna (dynamic); Auto-Inf (tracks your playing
and crossfades to a different reverb as chords or
notes change); Shimmer (a beautiful-sounding

88 OCTOBER 20 1 8 G U I T A R P L A Y E R . C O M

octave-shifted reverb); and Poly, a reverb with option but an AC adapter is included), and
two selectable bidirectional pitch shifts that there’s an internal switch that can be acti-
sounds incredibly cool and spacy. These latter vated if you want the reverb tails to be imme-
two reverbs create lush soundscapes that can diately cut off when the pedal is bypassed. I
be inspiring whether you’re just playing around tested the Oceans 11 with amps that included
with new sounds, seeking some songwriting a ’66 Marshall JTM-50, a ’50s-era Premier
inspiration or recording a TV or film soundtrack five-watter and a Fender Deluxe. It sounded
in your project studio. excellent across the board — whether it was
There’s also a great Spring setting that’s used for warm blackface-style reflections,
modeled on the Fender 6G15 Reverb Unit, a super splashy surf effects or adventures into
tube-driven reverb from the early ’60s. The sonic realms that defy description. The pedal
Ocean’s time knob functions like the dwell is very quiet and therefore great for recording,
control on the vintage unit, which means that and its well-implemented features make it both
infinite reverb isn’t possible. However, double- easy to use and exceedingly flexible for a broad
tapping the footswitch produces a bouncing- range of applications. It doesn’t have a stereo
spring sound similar to what occurs when a real signal path, but for its overall performance and
unit is suddenly jolted. Use caution when doing bang for the buck, the Oceans 11 earns an Edi-
this stunt to not have the FX level set too high, tors’ Pick Award.
otherwise what comes out of the speakers can KUDOS A potent pairing of distortion and analog
be jolting indeed! phase shifting
The black metal case sports a nine-volt CONCERNS None
external power jack (battery power is not an CONTACT

G U I T A R P L A Y E R . C O M OCTOBER 2 01 8 89


Bose S1 Pro Multi-Position P.A. System
PRICE $599
CONTROLS Independant volume con-
trol on all channels; Channels 1&2: reverb,
bass and treble; Channel 3: Bluetooth
POWER 150 watts (100-240V — 50/60Hz)
EXTRAS 2 combo XLR inputs, ToneMatch, auto
EQ, Bluetooth, TRS line output, rechargeable lith-
ium-ion battery, compatible with Bose Connect app

SPEAKER Bose integrated high-excursion woofer
WEIGHT 15.7 lbs (7.1kg)
KUDOS Portable, great sound, versatile,


rugged and wireless — what’s not to love?


TH OS E W H O WO R K hard to make a living of months of gigging in various locales, the S1 find the perfect reverb level to enhance my
as a musician, take note: There’s a new sheriff Pro helped me overcome all of these challenges, guitar playing and voice without overwhelm-
in town — the Bose S1 Pro Multi-Position P.A. and more, like a not-so-secret weapon. ing it, which can sometimes be tricky in ambi-
system ($599 street). Its flexibility and inno- First off, it has a hefty volume output, offer- ent performance spaces.
vative features were certainly a boon to my ing more than enough headroom to amplify my Those who venture out into wide-open
gigging business over the months that I used sound over obnoxious patrons, noisy espresso spaces to perform will appreciate the built-in,
it. For solo acoustic shows, the super-portable machines and the like. I was also able to use the rechargeable lithium-ion battery, with up to 11
S1 Pro is great for reducing time and labor, as S1 Pro during band performances, to improve the hours play time. A quick charge feature lets you
it is an all-in-one guitar amp and P.A. system. natural sound of my acoustic guitar. The S1 is recharge the S1 battery pack in a hurry, and the
Weighing in at about 15 pounds, it’s far lighter so easy to carry — and is small enough to posi- S1 will trickle charge the battery when plugged
than just one of the wedge monitors I have to tion easily on a crowded stage — I could trans- into AC power. Additional S1 battery packs are
lug around for band shows. port it in along with my electric-guitar amp. In available for $99 each, if needs be. The S1 Pro
The S1 Pro’s versatility is something to behold. both situations, the sound is clean and clear is also compatible with the Bose Connect app
It has three channels, including two combo inputs and you’ll never feel underpowered. (iOs and Android) for streaming Bluetooth
(XLR and 1/4-inch) for guitar or vocal, and a audio to two S1 units. In addition, the system’s
choice between a 1/8-inch aux input or Bluetooth N O -SW EAT AUDIO B LISS cool factor is upped with several new accesso-
(the wireless range is approximately 30 feet), to The onboard EQ is bare bones — you just get ries, including a backpack and a slipcover, and
connect a playback system. The system config- bass and treble on the two vocal/instrument an upcoming option for premium covers in a
uration allows the S1 Pro to be placed straight channels. But thanks to the Bose ToneMatch variety of colors.
up on its bottom, angled onto its back, set on circuitry, which tailors the preset EQ frequency Acoustic-guitar amplification and portable
its side like a monitor or mounted on a tripod. to a voice or a guitar, you are guaranteed good sound system technology have made major
An internal auto EQ produces the right sound sound. I was able to dial in warmer tones in leaps forward in the past few years, and the
dispersion for whatever orientation you choose. coffee shops with wood floors and big win- Bose S1 Pro marks yet another evolutionary
Solo musicians know that many venues’ dows, and I could get enough attack to com- stride towards easy gigging. I loved the system’s
dedicated space for music is often the size of pensate for cushioned booths and carpets in ultra-lightweight profile, and the S1 Pro let me
a postage stamp — fingers crossed it’s in a spot upscale restaurants. get my solo-acoustic act out to a number of
where there’s an available wall outlet! You may Even the preset reverb is nice. You can’t different-sized venues with pristine audio qual-
also be barraged by environmental noise from adjust blend, type or size, but the tone is expan- ity, some useful features and the ability to posi-
the kitchen or bar. However, throughout a couple sive without being sharp or bright. I could always tion the system to match the room. Brilliant!

90 OCTOBER 20 1 8 G U I T A R P L A Y E R . C O M


G U I T A R P L A Y E R . C O M OCTOBER 2 018 93

T H E ACO UST I C S I D E of making a blues record is important to me because it
counterbalances the electric aspect,” Ben Harper says. “I don’t want to make a
record that’s entirely one way or the other, which is what traditionally has been
done. It’s exciting to mash them up and blend the two successfully.”
When Harper and blues harmonica legend Charlie Musselwhite teamed up for Get Up!,
their 2013 collaboration, they proved a winning combination, receiving the 2014 Grammy
for Best Blues Album. Harper’s next musical partner was his mother, Ellen; a singer-song-
writer and multi-instrumentalist, she manages the Folk Music Center in Claremont, Cali-
fornia, an institution founded by her parents 60 years ago. Mother and son released the
entirely acoustic, aptly titled, Childhood Home in 2015, before Harper reunited with the
Innocent Criminals, his longtime backing band, for 2016’s Call It What It Is. But, in March
of this year, he rejoined Musselwhite to produce another badass batch of progressive/
traditional blues on No Mercy in This Land (Anti-), featuring guitarist Jason Mozersky
and bassist Jesse Ingalls, both of whom perform with Harper in the group Relentless 7.
“The blues has to shapeshift in order to move down the line, through the ages,” Harper
says. “Purists and academics may fight me on that, but I’m going to hold my ground. I
love the evolution. Charlie and I carved out a niche that honors tradition and hopefully
brings the blues into the 21st century. It fit too well to not continue down the road.”

Where does the inspiration for your acous- knows for sure. I believe there’s only one
tic blues start? photo of him playing. My guess is an early
Blind Willie Johnson set the precedent Gibson L-0, or one of the other early L
for acoustic slide guitar. I bet David Lind- models because they were the main game
ley, Ry Cooder and Bonnie Raitt would in town. It could have also been a Stella or
say the same. Blind Willie Johnson is the a Tonk Brothers, because those were going and dexterity.
mojo hand for steel guitar. For players that around back then. Blind Willie’s slide style
haven’t checked out Blind Willie Johnson always struck me like he was playing it on How did you develop your obsession
yet, I’d start with “Dark Was the Night, his lap, but he wasn’t, and given that he with the Weissenborn Hawaiian lap steel
Cold Was the Ground” tuned to open D played back in the ’20s and ’30s, he prob- in your early days?
— from strings six to one that goes D A D ably played bottleneck using the end of an I was Weissenborn crazy because, of
F# A D. You can also take that tuning up actual wine bottle. When I started study- all the instruments in the family’s music
or down a step, and it’s sometimes called ing Blind Willie’s playing back in my early store where I was raised, the Weissen-
Vestapol tuning. 20s, I found that I could reach deepest born spoke loudest. For a lot of players,
and get closest to his sound playing over- hearing Hendrix play a Strat for the first
What kind of guitar and slide did he use? hand on lap steel. I prefer a nickel-plated time was their moment. Well, I heard all
That’s a damn good question. No one brass slide in medium thickness for speed sorts of players come in and play the

94 OCTOBER 20 1 8 G U I T A R P L A Y E R . C O M
Ben Harper (left) and Charlie Musselwhite (right)

Weissenborn, but when David Lindley “Come On in My Kitchen” and “Terraplane Playing with Charlie gives it a framework
played it, he set the place on fire. I thought, Blues.” Going to school on that bottle- where the blues belongs. It’s not just tra-
“There it is!” I had the same reaction when neck stuff requires a roundneck acous- ditional. It’s not just the ’50s-to-’60s influ-
I heard Ry Cooder come in and play the tic, specifically. I eventually realized that I ence. It’s all of that wrapped into this crazy
Weissenborn for the first time. had to choose a lane — try to purvey tra- amalgam that is Charlie’s and my commit-
dition or focus on songwriting in my own ment to the blues.
Were your acoustic intentions completely original style.
focused on the Weissenborn? Get Up! kicked off acoustically, with “Don’t
I always had my hands on a fretted round- Your blues influences have always been Look Twice.” What was the guitar and
neck acoustic for songwriting and picking apparent, but the music you’re making tuning on that track?
apart the blues. I started learning Robert with Musselwhite is the real deal. How The tuning is open E, and the guitar is my
Johnson tunes note for note, including does playing with him inform your blues? signature Martin.

G U I T A R P L A Y E R . C O M OCTOBER 2 018 95

The tech specs indicate that the guitar

combines an M-style body’s 16-inch width
with a 000 depth. Can you speak about
those choices?
When you’re playing folk hip-hop with the
Innocent Criminals bringing the funk, there’s
a lot of low end kicking around onstage.
I couldn’t have too much bottom coming
out of my instrument, but I didn’t want to
sacrifice all of it. For my signature model,
we resurrected the M-style body, which is
actually a 0000. It’s a little bigger than a
triple 0, but not as big as a dreadnought
and not quite as elongated either. I went
with the shallower depth of a triple 0 to
limit feedback onstage. I’ll use a feedback
buster in the soundhole to save my ass if
I have to, but I’d rather go without one.

Can you shed some insight on the neck?
It’s a low-profile neck that’s a little wider
than a standard dreadnought neck but
not as wide as a typical classical neck. It’s
actually like a triple 0 neck. It’s the kind of How did you get that old-timey folk blues
neck you want to put your hands on when sound on “Trust You to Dig My Grave”?
you pull a guitar off the wall. That’s a 12-string Fraulini guitar. Todd Cambio
from Fraulini is dedicated to faithfully rec-
I checked listings online at Guitar Center reating guitars made during the Lead Belly
and Sweetwater, and it appears to be out era between, say, 1930 and 1940, such as
of stock. Stella and Tonk Brothers. He’s obsessed
Yeah. It was a limited run back in 2008 or to the point of using wood from the era.
2009, and I assume they’ve sold out, but Blind Boy Paxton is a contemporary tradi-
I think you can call Martin and get one tionalist who is true blue old-school, and
custom made. I actually need another, so he plays Fraulini guitars. “Dig My Grave”
let me know if you find one! is in a crazy low open A tuning with the
third on the top string. From low to high
it goes A E A E A C#.
TO S HAP ES H IFT IN How did you find that? an old plywood Stella guitar. It belongs to
I don’t remember where I found that tuning Jackson Browne, and it was completely
specifically, but the rumor and myth of the customized by a friend of Jackson’s who
D OWN THE L IN E, Lead Belly 12-string is that he used to get owns this funky guitar shop in East L.A. It’s
free piano strings from a piano refurbish- got a soft wood nut and a leathery cov-
T H ROUGH THE AG ES” ing company. After they’d do a job put- ering on the bridge saddle. It has a funky
ting on new ones, they’d give him the old Django Reinhardt tone. The song came
Did you play your signature Martin on piano strings. Of course, they were thick, leaping out of that guitar using standard
the new record’s title track, “No Mercy so they’d bend the neck of his guitar if he tuning in the key of A.
in This Land”? didn’t lower the tuning way down. That
That’s actually a “war period” Martin D-28, became the Lead Belly 12-string sound. Did you use a Weissenborn for any tracks
meaning circa 1943 or ’44. The song is in “Trust You to Dig My Grave” is a thump- on No Mercy in This Land?
open C tuning, so it’s all Cs and Gs with ing fingerpicking blues, played in the style Yes, on one track, “Love and Trust,” tuned
the third — E — on the third string [low to of Mississippi John Hurt or Furry Lewis. to open D. It’s a Weissenborn Style 4, which
high, C G C E G C]. Once you’re tuned that is one of the early, transitional ones, from
way, it’s relatively straightforward to figure What guitar did you use for “Bad Habits”? when he was trying to decide whether he
out how to fingerpick those blues licks. That song was written and recorded on was going to do a Kona or a hollow neck.

96 OCTOBER 20 1 8 G U I T A R P L A Y E R . C O M

It’s not a Kona, but [like a Kona] it’s got a the stage monitors. But I recently did a a Seymour Duncan Mag Mic pickup, and
square solid neck up to around the 7th fret, solo gig at a festival where there weren’t I’ll use pedals with that too; but with the
and then it goes hollow. The body is a bit enough channels to have a separate D.I. Martin I’ll run the amp clean. The Dumble
thinner than the final design he used into for the acoustic, so I ran it through my sparkles like a Fender Twin.
the ’30s, before he went out of business. amp, and it sounded great. The amp on
“Love and Trust” started out as a demo of that gig was a ’50 Fender Tweed Deluxe, Are you doing any studio work?
just me playing the Weissenborn and sing- I’m producing a band called Hey, King! that
ing when I was working on Call It What It recently signed to Anti-. They’re a female
Is, but I actually wrote it for Mavis Staples
“ I HAD TO C H O OS E couple duo. Natalie London is a badass
because I had got a call from her manage- A L A NE — T RY TO songwriter and guitar player — electric
ment looking for a song. I wouldn’t have and acoustic. We’re five songs in.
written it otherwise, so it went to Mavis
first. Mavis did an extraordinary job on it, O R FO CUS O N MY What’s on the horizon for your own material?
and hers is actually the version. But I had I’m making my first lap-steel instrumen-
this demo sitting dormant, so I built this
OW N ST Y L E ” tal record. The idea is for it to be a com-
version around it with Charlie and the band. bination of the Weissenborn and my other
but my main stage amp is a Dumble Over- main acoustic lap steel, an archtop made
Have you had any recent epiphanies about drive Special. by John Monteleone. I might even incor-
amplifying acoustic guitars onstage? Now I always use a blend of the direct porate some electric lap steel, but really
For years, I would simply plug my signa- signal with the amp sound, and my acous- clean. I may add a symphonic component
ture Martin with its killer onboard Fishman tic has never sounded better. I was already or some other instrumentation for texture.
Ellipse system into a D.I. box running straight blending a D.I. and amp tone from the Weis- I’m not sure if the instrumental record will
to the house, so I’d hear it back through senborn onstage, using the signal from be next, but it’s rapidly approaching.

98 O CTOBER 20 1 8 G U I T A R P L A Y E R . C O M



THERE’S NOWHERE TO hide when you issue with a certain note on his fretboard, the sound of your voice.
go it alone acoustically, but here are a he can speak specifically about where to
few things to consider in order to make cut or boost the mixer EQ. > Play Like Your Life Depends
your show as musically interesting and on It
entertaining for the audience as possible. > Strategize Your Set List No matter what, cherish
Flexibility is at your fingertips with no those minutes onstage, and
> If You’re Playing Near Home, Go Big band to worry about, but it’s good to give it your all, even if it’s a
Bring as many guitars as you can manage. have a strategy and at least arrange your lame scene, a low-paying gig
If you’ve got a ukulele or mandolin you tunes into clusters that work well together. or a poorly attended show.
can incorporate into the set, do it. Folks Tunings are key to such groupings, and If any of these factors war-
like to see solo performers play different if you’re switching guitars, then it’s par- rant less than your maximum
instruments, and most people — espe- amount to have groupings so that you effort, you’ve lost, because
cially other players — simply dig looking don’t spend half the show picking up then the only gig worth your
at musical gear. It’s also great for starting and putting down variously tuned instru- very best is a sold-out Carn-
conversations before and after the show. ments. Learn which guitars hold which egie Hall.
tunings best and lend themselves to cer-
> Otherwise, Travel Light tain styles. Plan your set accordingly.
When driving a small vehicle or flying,
bring your most versatile instrument — > Mix It Up
which is usually a mid-sized acoustic-elec- In addition to tunings, consider keys,
tric setup to accommodate a variety of tempos and the blend of instrumental
plucking and playing styles. If 12-string is to vocal tunes. Two or three songs in the
a big part of your thing, there’s simply no same key become bland, but a couple in
substitute. Otherwise, fake it with a chorus a row can work — especially if they are
pedal. I recommend keeping your essential at different tempos. Bob Weir does a
acoustic pedals separate from your elec- cool thing where he places the second
tric ones and on a dedicated “acoustic” song in the same key at exactly half or
pedalboard. Save money when flying by double the tempo of the one before. Con-
packing it smartly in bubble wrap inside sider tones, as well. Songs with groovy
a piece of standard hardshell luggage, ambiance can sound even more inter-
rather than paying weight overage fees esting when placed between dry ones,
for a heavy-duty case on every trip. Or, and vice versa.
consider a handy all-in-one pedal, such
as the Tech 21 Acoustic Fly Rig. > Expand
Looping is the most common way for
> Soundcheck Before the Show the modern solo-acoustic performer to
Do a thorough soundcheck of all your gear expand sonically. It’s an awesome tool in
at home, because you might not get one any case, but live looping is much more
at the club. Have a handle on the various exciting than preset loops. Adding per-
characters of your instruments and the cussive guitar hits to expand the sound
settings on your pedals. At the venue, it is practically its own genre — and it is
should all be about dialing in that specific being taken to extreme levels — but
room. If you can speak the language of simply adding a select few slaps and
frequencies, the sound tech will appre- taps can be effective. Looping those
ciate it. Andy McKee, for example, keeps can provide a firm groove foundation
a list of notes and their corresponding to play over. If you’re a singer, consider
frequencies, so when there’s a feedback adding a vocal harmonizer to expand

10 0 OCTOBER 20 1 8 G U I T A R P L A Y E R . C O M

boost. It all adds up to a

lot of flexibility right under
your fingers.
I went on to conduct tests through
an AER Tommy Emmanuel Signature
amp, an L.R. Baggs Synapse Personal P.A.,
a Tech 21 Acoustic Fly Rig and the house
P.A. at a club. The results were consistent:
The OM-21 sounded richer than several
other larger guitars, and I could almost
make it sound as big as a dreadnought —
if I felt like it. My old Taylor Grand Audi-
torium is equipped with a Fishman Prefix
blending system that sounds great, but it
has an intrusive footprint with lots of con-
trols. The Mic Blend’s product literature is
right about all those old-fashioned units
being unnecessary with today’s full-range

FISHMAN amps and P.A. systems, and truth be told,

I tend to leave it set the same way all the
time. I wound up using the OM with the

MATRIX INFINITY Matrix Infinity Mic Blend mostly for open-

tuned songs because they sounded so full
and clear. Finally, I brought the Fishman-

MIC BLEND equipped OM-21 to a weekly open-stage

gig I run in San Francisco, where I always
allow anyone brave enough to come up
T ESTE D BY JIMMY LES LI E and use the gear I bring. Every player was
stunned by the awesome sound, and feed-
F I S H M A N H AS B E E N at the forefront mic was affixed to the top, at the lip back was never an issue.
of the “plugged” revolution for decades; of soundhole on the bridge side, while What a joy it is to experience such
and now the company has significantly the nine-volt battery pack was stashed naturally bold, responsive and harmoni-
updated the stalwart Acoustic Matrix on the treble side of the back’s upper cally satisfying amplified acoustic tones!
Infinity Pickup & Preamp System it intro- bout. All together, the system did add I tried every technique — from fingerstyle
duced a quarter century ago. There are weight to the instrument, but as my test to aggressive plectrum strumming to per-
now two new options, both consisting proved, it was most certainly worth it. cussive slap-and-tap stuff — and the Fish-
of the Matrix undersaddle pickup and To begin, I plugged into a Fishman man Matrix Infinity Mic Blend system rang
Infinity endpin preamp: the Matrix Infin- Mini Charge acoustic amplifier and spun true. This is one of the easiest Editors’ Pick
ity VT ($159 street) — with its signifi- the dials to their midpoints. Although Award decisions I’ve ever made. Try one!
cantly updated preamp optimized for the guitar and amp were small, the
modern acoustic amplification — and tone was bountiful, with a warm, open-
the Matrix Infinity Mic Blend system air quality that not only reflected the CONTACT
($299 street), on review here, which Martin’s lovely natural tone, but also
also includes a multiposition cardioid enhanced it. The Fishman made a great Fishman Matrix
condenser mic capsule and other fea- guitar sound better via super-sensitive Infinity Mic Blend
tures. It arrived inside a Martin OM-21, dynamic response and sky-high head-
which is always nice. room. The tone knob was especially PRICE $299 (street)
The Matrix Infinity Mic Blend is useful at scooping the midrange, and KUDOS Practically per-
designed to be super stealthy and fea- rotating the mic on its swivel produced fect amplified acous-
tures a redesigned, sealed enclosure significant tonal changes: downward for tic tones. Flexible,
with fingerwheel tone and volume con- a more hollow sound, or upward to fill yet simple to oper-
trols. On my test OM-21, the enclosure up and round out the tone. The “voicing” ate. Neat installation.
was mounted topside of the soundhole, switch, located between the tone and CONCERNS Adds significant weight
and another, with a blend thumbwheel, volume controls, accommodate instru- to the instrument.
was mounted on the bottom side. The ments of different size via a slight bass

10 2 OCTOBER 20 1 8 G U I T A R P L A Y E R . C O M

Five Acts
of Legend
> As front-woman for the Tedeschi-Trucks
Band, Susan Tedeschi mines the sin-
gular vein of potent blues she became
famous for as a solo artist in the late
‘90s. Freely mixing the blues with R&B
and gospel influences, she has inte-
grated the genre’s diverse strains into
a fluid and powerful amalgam of fiery
guitar work and impassioned vocals.

> Born and raised in the Boston suburb

of Norwell, Tedeschi was influenced
by the Mississippi John Hurt and Light-
nin’ Hopkins records in her dad’s vinyl
collection and the gospel music of the
black Baptist churches she attended.
She wrote her first songs at 13 before
studying at the Berklee College of Music
and launching her own band in ’91.

> After years of fine-tuning the Susan

Tedeschi Band, she burst onto the scene
in ‘98 with her major-label debut, Just
Won’t Burn. The album earned rave
reviews and blazed a trail for a new
breed of young female blues artists.

> The success of Just Won’t Burn

earned her spots on Lilith Fair and open-
ing slots for the likes of B.B. King and
the Allman Brothers Band — where she
met the group’s slide guitarist, Derek
Trucks. The two married in ’01 and soon
began touring as the Soul Stew Revival.

> In ’10, the couple formed the Tedes-

chi-Trucks Band, where Tedeschi puts her

passionate, Janis Joplin–like vocal style

and beefy Telecaster tones in the ser-
vice of the group’s original compositions.

1 14 OCTOBER 20 1 8 G U I T A R P L A Y E R . C O M