Thursday, April 22, 2010

Crossroads Guitar Festival 2010

If you have not participated in Mr. Clapton's festivals - You should! The shows are awesome and if you can go, watch the DVD's. This year (2010) show has a smoking line up of players. Go if you can, buy the DVD if you cannot!

Festival site!

Eric Clapton's Crossroads Guitar Festival 2010 will be a day-long musical celebration featuring legendary guitarists and artistic collaborations by Eric and his friends including Allman Brothers Band, BB King, Buddy Guy, Jeff Beck, John Mayer, Sheryl Crow, Steve Winwood, Vince Gill, ZZ Top, and more.

The following artists are confirmed to participate in this unique event to benefit Crossroads Centre Antigua:

Albert Lee
Allman Brothers Band
BB King
Bert Jansch
Buddy Guy
David Hidalgo and Cesar Rosas of Los Lobos
Doyle Bramhall II
Earl Klugh
Eric Clapton
Gary Clark Jr.
Hubert Sumlin
James Burton
Jeff Beck
Jimmie Vaughan
Joe Bonamassa
John Mayer
Johnny Winter
Jonny Lang
Keb Mo
Pino Daniele
Robert Cray
Robert Randolph
Sheryl Crow
Sonny Landreth
Stefan Grossman
Steve Winwood
Vince Gill
ZZ Top

Greatest Guitarist of all time? Vote now

Gibson wants to know who you think is the greatest guitarist of all time. Certainly, I find if difficult to name one player that is the ultimate guitarist. I tend to break them up to styles and genres. It's also a mood thing for me, for if I just listened to a LP of the Miles Davis trio, I might think forward to players like Herb Ellis or Kenny Burrell for their mastery. I think it's probably better for me to name my favorite guitarist for the day or hour. For I would need to live forever in order to determine who is the greatest guitarist of all time.

Go to and vote. Votes must be received by May 15, 2010

Guitarist Herb Ellis Dies - March 28, 2010

Gibson guitarist, Herb Ellis, one of America’s finest jazz guitarists, died Sunday March 28, 2010 of complications associated with Alzheimer's. He was 88.

While studying string bass at North Texas State, Ellis heard jazz guitar legend Charlie Christian for the first time and chose to become a guitarist. Lack of funds forced Ellis to drop out of college and he went on the road with several bands, eventually joining Glen Gray’s Casa Loma Band in 1943 and began to get noticed by the jazz press. He then joined the Jimmy Dorsey band, formed Soft Winds with Lou Carter and John Frigo, and in 1952, replaced Barney Kessell in the Oscar Peterson Trio. With solo projects and touring stints with Ella Fitzgerald bringing Ellis critical acclaim, he was established as a major jazz guitarist and continued recording for various specialist labels until the ‘90s.

Herb was one of the players that I have been lucky enough to see play. Scott

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Fender Blues Junior Modification Information

If you have the hankering for a nasty blues tone that doesn't burn a hole in your wallet, you are handy, and sharper than a spoon then you might find the following information useful. First, the Fender Blues junior comes in various versions, the tweed new old stock (NOS) version comes with a 12" jensen speaker while the Blues Junior standard has a Fender Special Design speaker and vinyl tolex covering in nice colors. The latter unit is less expensive while the former unit is nice looking if you desire that retro look. The Fender Blues Junior standard model costs ~ $500 while the NOS is about $599. So much for the basic details.

The cool thing about this amplifier is that you can modify it at a relatively low cost and the yielding tones are impressive. This can be handy if you are living in cramped quarters and volume is an issue. BillM Audio is a great site for those wishing to upgrade and modify the Fender Blues Junior into a tone monster. For less than $200 dollars (USA) you can get your amp moving. Modifications were made to the amp in the video and if you take the time to watch the video I think you agree that the tone is much more adjustable and the range of adjustments is greater. The modifications are as follows: Basic mods, Heyboer TO20 output transformer, Presence control, Cathode follower, Switchcraft input jack, Preamp revoicing TwinStack. All for less that 2 bills!

Nice bass response! My pet peeve is still the fact that most reviewers fail to inform us as to the volume used (but you can see it on the video), guitar type, pickup type. And for the purists out there, yes, I know most of the tone comes from your fingers. Nevertheless, we all have a tone in our head that is conditioned by years of hearing things we like and if you've experienced that phenomenon then you are a tone chaser and never satisfied. If this wasn't true there would be only one amplifier, one guitar and we'd all be happy. That simply isn't realistic. Regardless, I get it! Tone is in the fingers... And amp and guitar and in the amount of coffee I drank ..... The temperature of the room blah blah blah.... I am simply trying to illustrate some alternatives that you may not know about so enjoy the ride.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Harmony Central - New upgrade spells disharmony

New upgrade spells disharmony

Harmony Central

Harmony Central upgraded their website and I hesitate to use the word upgrade. As a user and not a software engineer I found that the weakest link was the former search engine. The search engine would yield an array of information that isn't useful and my search required revision to specificity to get what I ultimately sought. I sought the reviews that other readers had posted regarding their experience with specific equipment. For me this meant selecting a instrument then finding the tab on the right side that brought me to a menu where I could select the manufacturer, model and ultimately read the review. Navigation was not effortless but would obtain my objective information in a short time. When reviewing I found that the review date to be handy as some people would have second thoughts and post more pointed reviews further down the road.

Now when using the upgraded site I found that the equipment reviews I wanted to read would take forever for me to navigate towards. Navigation on this site is atrocious and very frustrating as I found early on that if I hit the browser back arrow I was dropped off back at the home page with drop down menu's blank. Clicking on the forward arrow was an act of desperation where I was hoping to find my way back to where I was lost only to find that I've moved further into no man's land. The choice of font color is poor and difficult to read (this is an example). I spent a probably 20 minutes of my life trying to find a review - thinking I must be the problem, no - I am not a software engineer but I am an engineer and I would be fired if I produced this product. I did find some reviews but the first thing I noticed was the review dates had been deleted and the rating system revised to a 5 shaded star system in contrast to the old numeric 1-10 rating. Nothing good! Review dates are relevant and the star system is just okay.

The site is simply frustrating to use now. It's hard to find a logical reason for allowing this to go live! I want to believe that the old software is very difficult to upgrade or transfer. What happened? A tell tale sign, I saw a comment from a moderator who wrote "We'll lose some people who don't like the new site, and gain some people who didn't like the old site. Life goes on!," to which I might remind this person what a sage person once said, "Glass, China and REPUTATION are easily cracked and never well mended” …Benjamin Franklin. Another fact that should be addressed is that there is an overwhelming amount of negative reviews in the user forum. Members are unhappy about the new preference defaults as the new defaults cause problems with your inbox of your primary email unless you reset the preference (maybe FaceBook is helping HC?).

The site recovered from an outage this past December 2009 but maybe that was the Pink Elephant in the room. As an account holder I found that my messages were deleted; rating changed, my reviews disappeared, and some of my reviews have been deleted from my account. I must admit that I am not a frequent poster on HC but my heart goes out to those that put in the time to build the site with their opinions and information for their account have been damaged. The site requires you to be hyper skilled in order to glean information. The ultimate loser will be whoever owns the site. Thanks! When one door closes another opens up! Who ever is behind this catastrophe is also responsible for creating an opportunity for new entrepreneurs. I guess that is the greatest part of this upgrade.

Is this a disingenuous attempt to sell Harmony Central's soul to the corporate machine? Stay tuned as the site evolves or self destructs.

"The law of gravity would be thrown into dispute were there a
commercial interest involved." - Lord Macaulay

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Types of Guitar Finishes

I am going to attempt a quick run down on the types of guitar finishes that have been used and or wood finishes that ultimately found the way to musical instruments.
The oldest finish is Shellac. Shellac comes from a resinous substance that a bug called Laccifer lacca secretes to form a cocoon for its larvae. The cocoon is the raw material from which Shellac is derived. The Laccifer lacca is indigenous to India and Thailand. The recorded use of shellac for finishing dates back to 250AD. Shellac is used for French polishing and it dissolves well in denatured alcohol. The method of finish was widely used until the 20th century. Shellac like hide glue might be something you have consumed as it is used for pill coatings.

Nitrocellulose lacquer is derived from a plastic dissolved in volatile organic compounds (VOC ) such as butyl acetate, toluene, and xylene. Nitrocellulose resin is obtained from nitration of cotton and other cellulostic materials. Nitrocellulose was invented in the 1920's so it's history is not a deep as Shellac but its primary use was for automobile paint. The quick curing properties saved production time and time is money! Nitrocellulose can be buffed to a higher degree of shine, producing a harder more flexible finish sharply contrasting Shellac. In addition, Nitrocellulose is more resistant to sweat and body oils than Shellac. The drawback to Nitrocellulose is it's volatile nature. It's flammable nature and toxic manufacturing process make it not such a green choice of finish material. As nitrocellulose ages it looses its voc's that make it flexible and with age the finish becomes brittle. The cool thing is that nitrocellulose is an evaporative finish that can be redissolved and refinished to repair the aged imperfections.

Catalyzed Polymer finish utilizes properties very similar to expoxy. Not all catalyzed finishes use a two part convention. The most popular of catalyzed finish uses a light sensitive curing agent. Once applied the material remains in a liquid state until it is exposed to a light source of varying wave lengths. Once exposed the material cures very quickly to a hard inert finish that buffs well, resists body sweat, body oils, scratch resistant and is very durable. This finish has no susceptibility to vinyl or rubber. Many people associate this type of finish with low cost production guitars because of its ability to cover imperfections in wood. However, some very reputable luthiers are now starting to use this very method on their finest instruments. The thickness of the finish can be control well with current procedures thus making for a very durable instrument finish that will outlast nitrocellulose. The problematic area of this finish is that if you need to refinish the instrument. No solvents will melt this material. Chips must be repaired with cyanoacrylate glues catalyzed by moisture. This material matches the polyester in hardness and durability but never quite blends into the finish thus leave a bit of a haze. The good news is that the polyester is far more durable than nitrocellulose and shellac so there is far less need for touch up.

Guitar Player Magazine's - How not to play boring chords

I've been reading Guitar Player magazine since it's inception. For me this was the first Guitar magazine that was created for guitarists, about guitarists, guitars and associated guitar gear. There were interviews of unknown players or unknown to me. The articles opened my eyes to new players and styles and taught me that all music is great and none really above the rest. This is a short video produced by Guitar Player featuring Joe Bonamassa.