Archive for November, 2008

The Star Spangled Banner

Posted in Guitar Playing on November 28, 2008 by Staff Writer

Since it’s Thanksgiving, some of the Yanks in our office decided we’d all eat turkey sandwiches for lunch.  While these were fairly bland as they normally are (I actually had a hankering for laksa for lunch) it did get a couple of groups who sit near each other (yet never speak or communicate) together for 30 minutes to exchange pleasantries.

One of the girls who sits near my cubicle asked me to play a song on my little acoustic (my Baby Taylor) that I keep at my desk, so I injected some nationalistic fervor for those Americans in attendance (two from P.R. division and two lawyers) by hammering out a very cool version of The Star Spangled Banner.

I’m sure the note values here are wrong, but you’ll get the general idea.


None of the Americans were sure what Thanksgiving really signified apart from ‘eating a lot with your family’.


“Too many effects”

Posted in Guitar Gear on November 28, 2008 by Staff Writer

The other day, when the guys were round at my house, one thing I noticed about Daniel was this: despite him being an excellent player for someone of the age of 15 (and having been playing for only a couple of years), he fell in to that age old trap of using way too many effects. He brought a Boss GT-6 or GT-8 – I forget which model, but he used it with nearly all the effects on *all the time*.

The end result, after the addition of a metal type distortion, his chorus, some other modulation effect (perhaps a phaser) his reverb and his delay, was a mushy indistinct white noise that struggled to cut through when competing against Min, who was playing with a simple dirty tone with a touch of delay.

I remember making the same mistake when I was starting out – just because I had a bunch of pedals, I thought that I needed to turn them on all the time. At least Daniel had the saving grace of actually being a good player – I’m sure when I was 16, the end audible result was a mushy indistinct white noise that barely masking some hopeless non-technique and lack of musicality.

Don’t turn all your effects on all at once just because you have them. Find a core sweet tone that you like and embellish it as little as possible electronically. When I am looking for a good tone I start with the basic sound of the amp first and try as hard as possible to tidy up my note articulation as much as possible so I don’t need to mask any screw ups with layers of added noise that just ends up sounding like barf.

Joe Bonamassa – What a Les Paul should sound like.

Posted in guitar on November 27, 2008 by Staff Writer

Was listening to a little Joe Bonamassa on the way in to work today – his ‘You & Me’ album.  While I generally find bluesmen to all sound very derivative and samey, Joe is one of the first in recent times to really turn me on to listening to his music. Sure, some of his songs are your normal pub blues with each song largely indistinguishable from the next ‘I woke up this morning’ type effort, and frankly his voice isn’t all that, but his guitar playing and tone are fabulous.  

Check out Django (oddly titled since it doesn’t really evoke imagery of Django Reinhardt and hasn’t got anything faintly Gyspy Jazz about it) and his awesome rendition of Zeppelin’s Tea For One.  Great Les Paul sound – not too nasal, thick in the middle and biting, some great phrasing and note choice and none of those fucking cliche blues licks that everybody plays all the time.

I gotta get me one of these to totally slay the audience…

Posted in Guitar Gear, Heavy Metal on November 26, 2008 by Staff Writer

..of course, everyone who see’s me with it will be thinking ‘judging by the extreme phallic symbolism of that guitar, I might surmise that this is overcompensation for him being the proud owner of absolutely tiny genitals’, or, for the dumber observers ‘I bet he has a tiny knob’.

Still, it looks literally killer and it would definitely work in a tiny intimate Jazz trio setting.

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Ken and Min – laid back guitar jam

Posted in Guitar Playing on November 25, 2008 by Staff Writer

Here’s a video taken at the Sunday jam the week before last. Like I said in my previous post, I think these two guys are really great players, despite their modesty, and they have a natural chemistry when they jam and I feel very humble when they play. Very musical, great melodic sensibility too.

The jam sounds nice too – two Roland Micro Cube RXs (Min also has one) and there’s a nice bouncy stereo effect as a result of it. Ken is playing my Atom and Min is playing the KH-JR.

Err, there’s also an impromtu effort to play some Baroque piece (Telemann I believe) at the end, which kinda degenerates… 🙂

Lesson 18: Rhythm/comping

Posted in Jazz Guitar on November 25, 2008 by Staff Writer

A fairly concise lesson yesterday with Master and I said that I wanted to spend a little time away from How High The Moon for a bit and focus on accompaniment for a while and rhythm.

The way he approached this was to start with a simple chord vamp – in this case Am7 to D7 and round, and to put a walking bassline over it – something like this:

Then, he asked me to play the chords on different beats, so starting on the 1, then on the 2, etc. and trying to understand what kind of feel this gives, something like this:

Basic bassline, then chord on beat 1


Chord on 2, then 3


Chord on 4


He explained (and I understood) that each has its own application or feel. For example, the chord on beat 1 is really used when one wants to state a tonal centre (perhaps as part of a modulation) or to help harmonically support a note in the melody.   Putting the chord emphasis on beat 2 gives the accompaniment a bit of rhythmic ‘push’ (best understood by playing it to see what I mean).  The chord on 3 is getting to be a bit anticipative, i.e. we are looking forward into the next bar now, and the chord on 4 is very much leading into the ‘1’ of the following measure. At all times, my bassline must be nice and distinct and keep walking.

I need to spend more time on this.

Next, we spent some time putting chord emphasis on the ‘ands’ of each beat which made things very interesting and correspondingly more difficult. I started losing time with my foot and doing some spastic things. Examples:

Chord on ‘and’ of 1 then ‘and’ of 2.


Chord on ‘and’ of 3 then ‘and’ of 4.


Note that these are Swing 8ths – not straight 8ths. Also, my notation isn’t right because I couldn’t be bothered to but the rests in for the chord line above – I think you get the picture anyway.  Note that putting the chord stab on ‘and’ makes the comp much ‘hipper’ (i hate this word, but what to do?) and gives the whole thing a bit more motion as opposed to putting it on the beat which is much ‘straighter’. Also note that while I have written the chord stabs as 8th notes, when I play I actually sustain them over the next beat, but again, I couldn’t be bothered to notate it.

The next step is to mix and match, so for example, while keeping my bassline moving, I might play a chord on 1, then another on the ‘and’ of 4 and so on. Video examples coming in a couple of days.

Wanking on Kirk Hammett Jnr.

Posted in Guitar Playing on November 23, 2008 by Staff Writer

Here’s me, just tossing off on my ESP Ltd. Kirk Hammett Jnr.. It’s the guitar I normally reach for when I just want to mess around since it is fairly cheap and I don’t mind it laying around while my two young sons run around the house crashing in to stuff.

Nothing special – just wanking off on some scales and this is recorded with screw-ups and all.