Monday, January 30, 2012

Imelda May Tour 2012

Two USA dates have been announced.

If you want to buy tickets to San Francisco or San Diego show - click here!

No! That is not Imelda in the photo playing bass! That is the handsome Mr. Sting!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Gibson Guitar buys stake in Japan's Onkyo Corp

Gibson Guitar is continuing to push into consumer electronics with a new partnership with Japan based Onkyo Corporation. Gibson will acquire a majority share in Onkyo USA (the companies exclusive North American distributor) and become the second largest shareholder in Onkyo corporation. Henry Juszkeiwiczwill assume a chair on the Onkyo board.
"Onkyo makes some of the world's best audio equipment, and this partnership will give Gibson the ability to bring a deeper and more enhanced audio experience to music lovers around the world," says Juszkiewicz. "While people may be listening to more music, they are listening to it primarily in a severely compressed format. The aural disparity between a real system and compressed sound is vast, and as a result, they are simply not hearing tremendously rich sounds. With Onkyo, our goal is to bring the same exceptional experience artists demand in the studio to a larger consumer base."
"This partnership has significant positive implications for Onkyo as we are always seeking ways of creating new value," says Otsuki. "Gibson is a leading global company with a massive fan base, best-in-class products and superior marketing skills. Coming together in this way opens the door for amazing opportunities for both companies and, more importantly, fans of Onkyo and Gibson."
Onkyo is also investing in Gibson; Munenori Otsuki“Together, the two entities will form a Hong Kong-based joint venture focusing on design and development of unparalleled consumer audio products,” reads Gibson’s press release. “Through this alliance, Onkyo USA becomes the latest addition to the Gibson Pro Audio division, which already includes KRK, Cerwin-Vega! and Stanton,” will take a chair on the Gibson Guitar board. The two entities will create a Hong Kong based joint venture.
All agreements are subject to Japanese regulatory clearance, negotiation of definitive agreements and financing approvals of lenders.
Gibson also acquired Stanton. Stanton consists of KRK systems, Cerwin-Vega, and Stanton DJ among others. These acquisitions are indeed intriguing at the very least to this author. Gibson's diversification into the audio arena is fascinating. This begs the question; is Gibson's long term commitment to the musical industry starting to fade? Many of Gibson's current products are legacy lines with only one really ground breaking guitar currently. Gibson has one of the most iconic brands in the world, could they be making your TV in the future? These moves aren't new as FENDER has bought up a host of manufacturers - but most of these companies are musical instrument companies. However, Fender and VW have joined forces with Fender producing the stereo's in many new VW automobiles. Very interesting little bits of news...........
Could the recent Gibson moves be a parry to Fender's VW attack? Stay tuned!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Graph Tech's Tusq String tree - work great!

I installed Graph Tech's Tusq String Trees on my Fender Stratocaster ( I love this guitar). The installation is simple. I keep all original equipment in a baggy and then store it in the case. It's a prudent thing to do if you ever want to sell the guitar because often the buyer wants all the parts.

I didn't remove the strings when I installed the tree. I carefully removed the strings from the nut slots and pushed them aside. I removed the old tree by loosening the screw - Note: the old stock screw will not work with the new Tusq tree. The Graph Tech's Tusq tree comes with three different length screws, I used the shortest to minimize any potential damage and it worked perfect. Replace the strings in the nut groove and re-tune the guitar.

I installed these because my old trees had grooves worn in them and the string would not move freely. This groove caused a sticking point and affected the tuning in an adverse manner. The new trees counteracted this problem. My only complaint is that the new tree leaves one of the holes from the former string tree uncovered. This isn't really Graph Tech's Tusq's fault but if the base of the Tusq Tree could be made to be diamond shaped, then the hole would not be visible. Otherwise, this is a cheap, easy, and worthwhile upgrade for guitar requiring string trees.

Barely visable stabilization hole from former tree

Top view of  Graph Tech's string tree

Here you can really see the hole I whined about!

Great looking function upgrade

The tree also is available in black

Word of caution: be certain to double check the length of the fastening screw requirements. Installing a screw that is too long could split the wood grain and cause damage to your guitar!

Friday, January 20, 2012

Guitar Picks - some that I use daily

The following photographic frames contain certain variations of plectrums that I have utilized. Each pick has a purpose, character, and forte. I'll express my opinion of the following products in a brief manner. My experiemental results are subjective and meant only to be a rough guide. Over the years, some new picks have curried favor while other are retired. It's a cyclical adventure for me. As this series of illustration is but the tip of the iceberg, it could be construed that I have a compulsive pick purchasing disorder.

Tortoise style picks: Fender, John Pearse, Red Bear, and D'Andrea picks. All greater than 1.0mm thick. Sound really nice on acoustic guitars.

Delrin like property picks. Wegen picks tend to be my all around go to pick. I love the GP250. Those that I use are generally greater than 1.5mm in thickness. They are not super bright sounding but there is a very low pick to string drag coefficient, .i.e., very slippery. The pick has machined channels that greatly aid grip and reduce the amount of grip tension requirement.

Jim Dunlop Tortex picks were a standard pick in my arsenal for many years. I love them because they are firm, have decent mild tone and the surface has a very good basic gripping enhancing texture. The Blue 1.0mm  was my replacement for the Jim Dunlop Nylon which I found suffered from my vigorous technique thus succumbing to attrition. Note about the pick end tips; I prefer the rounded pick end over the pointed pick end. The Jim Dunlop Nylon was my replacement upgrade for Fender Heavy 351 celluloid picks.

Jim Dunlop Nylon Jazz II which are nice but not fast enough for me. These wear down too quick on my archtop guitars which utilize heavy round wound strings.

Fender Heavy Celluliod that is my most expensive pick. This pick was retrieved from my Rhodesian Ridgebacks jaws. Razz is now gone, only he could make this pick. This pick is priceless, retired and it's perfect.

Jim Dunlop Techpick "brass" pick - Used only sparingly. Too high string to pick drag coefficient and hard to grip. Over zealous technique yields deep guitar finish abrasions. I experienced an unusual short string life while employing this type of pick. Difficult to hold but facilitates fast picking.

 Stone Pick - God knows who made this. It was given to me when I was about 16 by a high school sweetheart. It's all good, but it's hard a hell to hold! Great tone, fast picking, no pick wear, no premature string wear. If I could only hold on to it. If I was using it during a gig and lost it, I would need to change my technique and at this point I'd probably just start playing clams. This pick is relegated to home use only.

Bone picks I picked up (no pun intended) in Japan. These felt scratchy to me. Like fingernails on a chalk board but the tone is nice. Not very good for fast picking and they wear quickly.

Great Bebop pick - again, Jim Dunlop Jazztones! Not too crisp of tone, mellow flat wound type strings work well with these picks. Doing fast Charlie Parker solos? These picks will suffic if you cannot get your hand on the Wegens, Red Bears, Blue Chips, John Pearse etc.... One of the best all around picks for Jazz bebop on a budget.

This is a intriguing new pick on the market that looks promising. The FLEX-PIC is 5 picks in one.

Below is a FLEX-PIC demonstration video. This is a link to the FLEX-PIC Facebook page. Check these picks out!

Finally, not everyone has the fancy picks at their disposal. Some of the aforementioned picks are difficult to obtain or available only on-line . If you are just getting started (neophyte) then some of these fancy picks might simply be a waste of your hard earned money. The following picks are great for those just starting out on the guitar - Fender celluloid medium, Jim Dunlop Celluloid, and most Steve Clayton picks.

I must apologize for not showing any Steve Clayton picks but these have not be as accessible as the other picks I mentioned in this post. I do like the Phat-tone picks. Unfortunately, I don't have enough experience with that product brand to facilitate a strong opinion.
I urge everyone to try different picks out. You will find that some picks work very well on acoustics guitars only. Some picks will work better with thick strings but will cause premature string fatigue on thin gauge strings. All the experimentation means that you are spending more time with your guitar and that is very good! Picks are inexpensive tools that could change your technique, and increase your interest. Go buy a variety of picks and try them on different types of guitars, strings, string scales, shredding, hybrid picking, and simple campground singalongs.  You will get better at your instrument and maybe find a new favorite pick. It's all great fun!

Etta James has passed away

Born in 1938, Etta is a gospel prodigy. In the 60's her career soared especially after being sign to Chess records. She sang heart breaking ballads like "All I could do is cry, At last, Trust in me" to name a few. Sadly, heroin addiction affected both her personal and professional life. Her career has been marked with skyward success and hallowed doldrums. One of the highlights late in her career was winning the Grammy award for best contemporary blues in 2003 for the album - Let's roll. I hope the recent news about Etta James is a nasty rumor regarding her illness. Unfortunately, time waits for no one!
The blues have been hit hard with the death of EttaHubert Sumlin, and Johnny Otis (R&B).
Without ETTA JAMES there wouldn't be Beyonce and now Rachel Crow!

This is the Warren Haynes Band performing "I'd Rather Go Blind" in Philadelphia last May
Warren Haynes Band - "I'd Rather Go Blind" by Warrenhaynes

Get well Etta!

Johnny Otis RIP

Today along with Etta James we lost the Great Johnny Otis - Willie and the hand jive! Born in Vallejo California December 28 1921, Johnny moved to Los Angeles following advice from Nat King Cole and Jimmy Witherspoon. In 1950, Johnny had 10 songs that made the top ten on billboard magazines retail rhythm and blues record list. He went on to discover Willie Mae (Big mama) Thornton, Etta James, Hank Ballard and more. This illustrious career allowed him to share the bandstand with the likes of Count Basie, Lester Young, Eddie (Clean head) Vinson, Charles Brown and more. Johnny lead a full life that even included politics. In addition, Johnny Otis is the father of Shuggie Otis. We wouldn't have the music we have today without the guiding hand of yesterday. Johnny will be missed!

Friday, January 13, 2012

Van Halen new album release coming soon!

Van Halen et al will be releasing their long awaited new album featuring David Lee Roth and Wolfgang Van Halen. The band currently is featuring the song Tattoo on most rock radio stations to give us all a taste of the new material that has been growing at the Van Halen camp.

The new album (Different Kind of Truth) will be released on February 7th. The album cover reminds me of the Commodores Movin On album. In fact, this isn't the only tie to funk that Van Halen is currently sporting. The band will kick off it's tour on February 18th in Louisville Kentucky and the biggest surprise is Kool and the Gang will open the show and will also open several more shows, thus assuring us all a little funked up music to bang our heads and kick our jams. Will Kool and David Lee Roth conspire and high jack the show? Go and see for yourself!

Monday, January 9, 2012

Black Sabbath guitarist Tony Iommi diagnosed with cancer

Black Sabbath recently announced a reunion tour with Ozzy. However, this week the guitarist for Black Sabbath, Tony Iommi has been diagnosed with Lymphoma. Iommi is currently working with his doctors to develop a treatment for him. The band was recording an album scheduled for release in autumn of 2012 but they have moved from Los Angeles to London in order to work with Iommi while he under goes treatment.

Iommi 63, is the founder of Black Sabbath which is one of the most successful rock and roll acts in history with over 70 million albums sold worldwide.

Ozzy Osbourne was fired from the band in 1979. Since that time the original four members have reunited sporadically. This most recent reunion created a lot of anticipation and fanfare as the public appears to be hungry to support the iconic Black Sabbath.  Ozzy has also seen some level of success that could only be described as phenomenal.

Most heavy metal fans see Black Sabbath as their iconoclast of defiance, rebellion and mystery; setting the bar for all the metal bands that came after them.

Please keep Tony Iommi in your thoughts to help him get through this scourge of a disease.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Guthrie Govan's Gear Stolen in Rome

Main Stage at the NEC Birmingham November 2006

Guthrie Govan reported on his Myspace Page that the van in which his equipment was being transported was breached in Rome, on December 17th. Amoung the items stolen were various instruments, amps, pedals and film footage from previous shows. So far, the Italian police haven't been able to develop and leads.

Humans should lead lives based on trust and humility but that is rarely how the world works. Anyone with any information leading to the recovery of some or all of this gear will be rewarded $1500. If you have information regarding this burglary; Please write to... 
List of the stolen gear is as follows:

1989 Warwick Streamer bass, natural finish.

(Distinguishing features: smaller replacement Schaller tuners; screw for lower strap button replaced with a Philips style screw; thumb-sized indentation above the "P-Bass" pickup; long dark stripe/imperfection in the wood on the back of the bass, above the through-neck; small knot in the wood near the top of the inside upper horn...)

SWR SM900 head, serial # 4400106010

Boss OC-2 octave pedal, Boss TU-2 tuner, Boss power supply, various cables.


1x left-handed Drum Workshop DW 5000 double kick drum pedal.


2x Brunetti Mercury heads, serial numbers ME10550 and ME10650 (in flight cases);
2x Brunetti 4x12 cabinets (in flight cases).

DK's pedals:
Boss TU-2 tuner;

GG's pedals:
(mounted in a distinctively crappy-looking "tea tray" pedalboard):


1x unique bag with the emblem "Roger Waters - The Wall";
Various camcorder tapes containing yet-to-be-edited footage from a professionally filmed 3-camera shoot - for what was intended to be a live DVD of a gig we played at Lapsus, Torino :-(

Well... profuse thanks in advance to anyone who might be able to help us out with any of this!


GG (and the band)