Monday, December 31, 2007

A New Year, A New Guitar Method

The image you see is one that needs, and has no proper explanations to follow. It's just a really nice piece of work that I am getting airbrushed on my brand spanking new Les Paul.

Nice, huh? I wanted to take the opportunity to wish all my readers a very Happy New Year and hope that in 2008, your strings will remain in tune, your amps will stay on 11, and your life will be a better, safer and more creative place. The next year has the staff at my studio releasing many CD's and a few soundtracks are finished as well. Conversely, this is why the blog has been absent of late. So look in from time to time - I will add tracks as they come up.

My resolution is to be a better blogger, so I hope to keep up the site and add more coolness as it comes about. Hopefully the Gods of Cyberworld will help me achieve that goal.

Cheers all and may your own modern guitar method be creative and musical.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

A Brand New Modern Guitar Method?

Greetings from the planet "2 Much 2 Do"! Guitar Methods posts have been rather sparse lately, as our subscribers have so eloquently mentioned. This is because most of us here in the guitar methods blogosphere have been abducted by a coven of sex starved amazon-ish female aliens with three brea... well, you know the story. Actually we've been gigging at a truly alarming rate lately so there's really been no one around to mind the store (so to speak).

BTW Dwayne, the amp simulator review is coming!

One thing I have always found some time for is cruising the net from hotel rooms across this great and vast planet. Lately, somewhat thanks to this blog, I have been on a veritable quest for knowledge as it applies to all things musical, and I recently discovered something that gave me a "Eureka!!!" moment. We won't mention that the concept has been around since the '70's, the phrase coined by Tony Buzan. Shhh.

What I have jumped on recently is the concept of "mind mapping". If I'm the last one on this boat sue me, but in case I have made some major discovery that can integrate smashingly with musical minds, then I'm very glad to share it here. At the very least I always hoped this site would be best represented by ideas and concepts that could give us a creative style and flow, or a fresh perspective, and here's another one.

I'm fairly certain that I can't explain it as well as the following video - so I leave it for you to watch and judge accordingly. It may seem boring on the surface but try and think outside of the box and apply it to the many things we do as musicians. It is really a nice tutorial and if you really dig deep it's quite obvious how "mapping" your creative ideas can help you in everything from your practicing routines all the way through to your songwriting and studio sessions.

It's a right piece of brilliance and I hope you get as much from this as I already have - in the few short weeks of applying it to my music. You can click this link to pick up some free mind mapping software - that's where I ended up. There is a more elaborate mind mapping software program of doom here, but I would suggest trying a free or trial version first to see if it's to your liking. I have no affiliation to these links BTW, just sharing some love.

Add quicktips -mindmapping a to-do list to your page

Friday, October 12, 2007

If This Is The Last Video You Ever See...

...consider yourself lucky. Our illustrious and temperamental guest columnist sent me this on the almighty Facebook today and thus I am sharing the love to you.

My opinion? This is one of the sickest rhythm sections in the history of sick rhythm sections. Enjoy! (The last drum n bass solo section is off the chain)

Need Strings?

Monday, October 8, 2007

A Touching Message

The video I want you to see here has nothing - and yet everything to do with music and modern guitar methods. The message contained has so much insight into how we live our lives, and why it's important that we never forget our purpose, nor our priorities. This is why I am taking the opportunity now, on my first visit back in a week, to post a video seemingly unrelated to guitar or music. I had planned to bomb the blog with the articles I've been writing for the last week, products reviewed, e.t.c... but this video just seems so much more fitting.

I like to find inspiration where I can, in fact I think we all HAVE to find inspiration wherever we can these days. Looking at the state of our world, well let's face it, life can seem very bleak. Sometimes it takes just one courageous person to shake our brains around, to rock the boat and loosen our grip on the negativity that surrounds us. It is so easy to lose a proper focus in life, and equally as hard to remember why a good perspective is crucial to our success. This man's final message to the world is evidence for why it is paramount that we not lose site of our reasons for being here, for being alive, and for being creative and beneficial human beings.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Size No Longer Matters... To "Pod" People

10 years ago I would have had a better chance spotting a Unicorn than seeing a guitarist use a computer for anything (besides emailing their sisters for money of course). Computers were that lowly thing that other lowly musicians needed to compete and create, while us axe men were left digitally unscathed thanks to the organic methods from which our sound was produced. Back in the day, when even drummers had to learn how to plug something into a wall, we still had our cold steelesque logos, our big hunks of wood, the mesh grills that hid at least four 12 inch “Wimp Killer” speakers, and a rack of effects that looked like it could detect alien life forms if we pointed it at the sky. Companies with names that sounded as if they accessorized the Death Star equipped us with our ammo and we loved it. God bless Mesa Boogie and the Groove Tube and long live the Marshall stack.

Although there were innovators at the time that did a reasonably decent job introducing amp modeling technology, it was often pricey and in the end, not the most appealing solution for guitarists who loved their “rigs”. The original SansAmp was nice enough, and combined with a nice multi-effects processor you could get away with a very nice recorded sound. In terms of “live” performance however, it just never cut the mustard like a nice rack/amp and some great speakers. Before SansAmp I remember the Rockman by Tom Sholz. (yes I’m that old) This little unit was also fairly cool at first, but the more I used it the more irritating the sound became (think fingernails and chalkboards). In the end I remember hearing our neighbors cat in heat one evening and it reminded me of the sound of my Rockman. Needless to say I chucked it in the bin along with my unsolved Rubiks Cube and begged my parents to buy me a Mesa Boogie. (They never did)

Factoid: Parents never cooperate when the thing you want is louder than their need to scream at you.

Enter the POD.

When Line 6 decided to market their creation, the POD, everything changed. With the introduction of the POD I was forced to realize that the digital age was upon me, and that holding onto tradition would become hazardous to my musical health without at least exploring the brave new world to which I belonged. In the beginning I wanted to hate that little red “eye sore” - after all, it reminded me of an over-sized Mexican Jumping Bean. Now that I think about it I guess that was the point, hence the name "POD". It was on my second tour of Asia where I completely realized how important Line 6’s cool little “amp killer” would become. I found that I could walk on stage night after night not suffering from the various life threatening spinal chord injuries my guitar rig always gave me as I lifted it through hundreds of airport security checks. I mean, my “amp” was in my bloody carry on luggage. How cool is that?

Now I can’t live without my POD. Of course on big shows I still utilize my Death Star rig, but when a gig comes along that requires quick set up, no sound checks and lots of in-between travel “sans roadies” the Pod still can’t be beat. Also, how can I knock a device that lets me close my eyes and hear a wall of 100 watt Marshall Stacks turned to 11, while my wife sits 3 feet from me comfortably watching Desperate Housewives?

How does this relate to computers you may ask? Well, as amp modeling hardware progresses, amp modeling software is never far behind. Latency and that age old digitally "thin" sound we all loathed is fast becoming a thing of the past. With these negatives becoming less of an issue one will find that more and more guitar tracks are being finished and mastered in a completely digital environment. This is reason enough to get involved with the progression of guitar amp modeling. In future articles we will be reviewing most of the current choices for modeling software, and believe me, there are some solid choices available.

Meanwhile, 10 years later if you haven't placed this inexpensive and quirky device on your list of things to get, forego your long awaited 3 day drinking binge and grab a Line 6 POD on Ebay. Better yet, go to the Line 6 website and see what else they have to offer because they have a great deal of coolness and they are a dedicated company worth checking out. I shouldn’t give up a link here because they haven’t paid me any money yet to rave about their company, but if nothing else I am a philanthropic sort.

this post is a reprint from a few days back. Sorry if you are reading this twice but my last entry was kacked by some kind of blogger ghost.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Lazy Sunday Guitar Vid's #1

Another lazy Sunday afternoon in my part of the world. The guitar method "staff" is in the studio waiting for the Windows "SuperFast Quad Core Intel Duo Monstrosity of Doom" to unfreeze or at least flash a blue screen and give us a reason to break for baby back ribs and beer. I swear that soon I will include a post out of spite on why Mac rules Windows for audio production. I know it's been done a million times, but some things are worth repeating with all the spit and venom an inappropriately frozen OS can seep into ones pours.

In my spare time I have been feverishly reviewing most of the Amp modeling software packages sent to me last week, and you can expect the "skinny" on those by next week. In the mean-in between time however, I hopped over to YouTube for a little mindless distraction and some ear + eye candy. Look up my favorites if you want, there's some good stuff for your Sunday inspiration.

Wait one sec... Eureka!! Low and behold I have discovered that I can embed my fav's here on the blizog, so with some intestinal fortitude I think I will try and throw up some nice videos here for my loyal readership. Enjoy, and when you've finished watching, for the love of God go out and get some sun! You all look like vampires! :-) (Actually I'm the pale one, but I'm assuming everyone reading is cooped up in a dark studio somewhere as well.)

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Where Have All the Heroes Gone?

Here's another modern guitar methods opinion piece from our ever cynical guest columnist. We think he needs a hug, what do you think?

reprinted with permission by Harley Warren

Ah, Rock and Roll. Rock and Roll and all those marvelous bastards of the 70’s, 80’s, and even 90’s that would drink themselves to death and destroy 5 star hotel rooms just because they could. The genuine article, they were. You couldn’t utter one good word about these hell-raising gypsies as they swooped into town like a parade of leather clad biker demons, stealing the virtue from “Daddy’s little girl” and consuming every illicit drug available to them. You couldn’t say a good word, but you always quietly hoped you would end up at their after parties. The upper crust of my day were always so worried that these purveyors of the “devil’s music” would poison the youth, turning us from docile, obedient lemmings into violent and uncontrollable monsters. Secretly we knew the power of our music simply because we knew they intimidated adults to such a degree. Secretly we cherished the power our music gave us.

Yes, back then Rock and Roll owned all of the true rebels and those rebels knew exactly why it was necessary to self destruct and poison their lives for us. It was never duplicitous with them, just par for the course. It was never contrived for an artist to be found screaming down Hollywood Boulevard, naked as the day they were born, it was simply the result of a bad acid trip or maybe a long night at the studio. These days it’s just a publicity stunt, often sponsored by Sony.

My heroes were the tragic but necessary personification of a generation’s moral indignance. They happily poked their fingers into the eyes of humanity in its callous pursuit of greed - by showing us all that regardless the amount of money happiness will always be elusive. They were trail blazers, musical martyrs, and they would succumb time and time again to the evils of living life’s excesses for their cause, in the same way religious fanatics scar themselves by flagellation. As such, we honored them with equal worship and praise.

Nowadays we send them off to wimpy $5000.00 a day, 5 star rehabs, or tell them to take up Pilates with their “sober buddy“.

I can remember once upon a time cherishing their world so much that I couldn’t wait to get done with the droning bother of daily life, just so I could crawl inside my speakers and be mystified by their latest creations. Let’s face it, what they created was more often than not, beautiful. It was beautiful because there was the weight of tortured souls behind every note they produced. Even when the new music of the day didn’t amaze and confound me enough to find and consume it as quickly as possible, I could still respect the artistry enough to revisit old albums while waiting feverishly for the next batch of their self-destructive gold.

Back then “commerciality” was always quietly laughed at by the elite and openly shunned by music’s insiders. This is what made music real for my generation. Back then when things became too “user friendly“, Soundgarden, Pearl Jam, and Nirvana showed up in flannel hero-capes and a “back to basics” antibiotic and they magically cured us of the “hairspray rock“ crisis. Even before glam rock gave us cold sweats we had unfortunate conditions that left us feeling the tiniest bit ill. “Bay City Rolleritus Virus“, or perhaps “The Partridge Familyatosis” comes to mind. Yes, they did litter our musical lawns but they were never dangerous enough for us to need a gardener as they mercifully died of their own unimportance.

The twits of my generation were like a car accident that only slowed the traffic on a road you otherwise loved to travel; never would they add up to anything that could threaten the “cool” in popular music. Never in a million years would a musician “in the know” be caught dead supporting the homogenized, cookie-cutter entertainment industry we now see today, and as a musician back then you would risk a brutal, agonizing death from merely suggesting that your band just follow “the formula“. It’s not like that anymore.

There it is folks, exposed and in the open. Take it from someone with the keys to the executive washroom, there now exists a secret “formula” that can manipulate your mind into believing utter tripe is sheer artistic brilliance. Once airborne, the virus produced from this formula enters our bloodstream via aural cavities, where it multiplies and kills the brains ability to use self control and exercise common sense. If left untreated one can even find themselves watching E tv and wondering what Las Vegas party Paris Hilton is attending, shortly after which one will bleed from every orifice and painfully expire in a pool of their own sewage. There is no cure, but liberal doses of Korn and Foo Fighters has been known to slow the progress.

This “formula” is the successful viral end of an equation that continually failed over the years, but yet with each failure in the “formula” it was revised, honed and perfected until now, and now it infects the masses like the worst bird flu pandemic. This “formula” was modeled after Anthrax I believe. After all, it has the same toxic effects. The evil doers of the music world have made the formula so god-awfully effective that even something as horrid as Gwen Stefani’s last CD can be allowed to thrive. We all know that in the real world of music the dear, sweet Gwen couldn’t hold a creative candle to her old band “No Doubt“, yet after years of fronting an extremely talented group of musicians and writers Gwen and the evil doers have used the “formula” to successfully release today’s musical equivalent of Barney the Dinosaur.

I hate to harp on Gwen Stefani, but let’s take her, then add the concept of the "solo" career and make a nice and shiny example for my point. You see, back in the day the solo career was rarely a successful venture. When bands broke up they all usually just went home and counted money or died of drug overdose. With the exception of Sting, Annie Lennox, and possibly the first David Lee Roth album nothing much ever came from egocentric artists thinking they were bigger than their own britches. Now however, anyone involved with a mildly successful pop group has access to the secret “formula” and its dark purpose. Using this viral equation they can expect to make a disgusting amount of money by launching a "solo" career having virtually no fear of the public ridicule they deserve. Yes, gentle reader, our infamous “Hollaback Girl” is a perfect example of what is wrong with the music culture these days. The evidence of this epidemic is there, right before our very ears.

You don’t have to say it, I already know… Gwen Stefani is “so last year”, but it’s her kind of pop culture impetus that seeps musical insanity into our aural gene pool. If we’re not careful we will have 5000 Gwen Stefanis in a decade. It’s only been a year and we already have one more, just look at Fergie. (My apologies to the Fergilicious One - her CD isn’t all that bad). As for the current incarnation of Gwen, doesn’t anyone care that her musical misadventure has made millions of dollars from successfully spelling the word Bananas (B---A-N-A-N-A-S) for us? That song wouldn’t have made it big on a children’s show when I was growing up, but somehow today she is a bloody superstar from it. In fact now that I think about it wasn’t she actually yodeling on one track of that miserably useless CD? Did anyone, anywhere, ever like yodeling? I am sorry to be the bearer of this bad news but when music was real this woman would have been taken to the nearest signpost, tied up and shot by a firing squad of angry Iron Maiden fans. Good God what is next, the solo career of a person working for someone with a solo career? When can we expect Rhianna’s hairdresser to make 10 million dollars releasing a new song that spells out the word “Oranges”? (O---R-A-N-G-E-S - sing it with me now!)

The wonderful people in control of our fantastic music business have become nothing more than “pop culture pimps”. You would think that once recording artists realize they are being so abused they would band together and put a stop to it. You would think that Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11 as well, and obviously that little goof slipped by us as well. The awful shock and horror is that some of these glittery people just don‘t care they are getting screwed, because the process is lining their pockets and feeding their egos. Others may in fact care, but they have no idea how to stop the beat downs and career ending abuses. Yes gentle reader, it’s a sad reality but the truth is that most artists are so humbled that they receive any attention at all they dare not do anything to take the spotlight from their makeup-caked, plastic faces.

I wait hopefully for the day when popular music reacts in the same way it has always reacted. When the business of music gets too watered down and too littered with debris, history has shown us that the art-form itself somehow explodes as if on cue, shaking the tree, killing the bad seeds and we are all better people from it. This has always been the cosmic answer to the problems of musical over-saturation. In the 80’s heavy metal rescued us from disco, in the 90’s alternative rock rescued us from heavy metal. Where is our current generation’s Darwinian Music Business Cleanser? God I hope it‘s not Hilary Duff.

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Harley continues to cower in the darkness, wearing fake sunglasses, beards and various styled wigs. Fearing the ever present threat of assassination by 50 Cent, to his credit he still stops off at safe houses to send articles to the masses in the hopes that one day there will be a light at the end of the tunnel.

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