Sunday, December 19, 2010

Taylor GC-8 review & GC series

I recently met Bob Taylor when he visited Gryphon Strings in Palo Alto, California. This was an informal mini-show that was very informative and genuinely fun. Bob spoke about his two factories and how he entered the business after purchasing a small shop from a person who was leaving the guitar repair business. The entire meeting was well over two hours long and Bob was very generous with his time and insites. I'll save the information for another post.

Bob did bring some really nice guitars a long with him and several caught my attention. One guitar was a 12 fret short scale guitar without a cut-away, spruce top, and ovangkol body and sides. The tone was not over-bearing and the beauty was astounding. Not one to simply review a guitar based on beauty, I found that the guitar had a decent bass response to finger picking and a nice balance with a pick. The guitars that Bob Taylor brought on tour certainly were meant to provoke some serious GAS! The simplicity of this guitar is an excellent segue to the Taylor Grand Concert series.

The Taylor GC line starts at an affordable $1300 range. The target audience are light strummers and finger pickers. The body is smaller than the x14 series of Taylor instruments. All of these instruments are made in the USA and more importantly - California. My subject model is a GC-8 with Sitka Spruce top and Indian Rosewood back and sides. The inlays are abalone as is the rosette. The spruce shows some light bear claw but is mostly flawless. The neck is mahogany and the fingerboard is ebony with ivoroid binding. This guitar is by no means a cherry-picked guitar and is a random choice in terms of this review. I think the most important part about a review is what input can I give that isn't represented by the manufacturer's website?

I am used to playing Grand Auditorium sized guitars so the first thing I noticed was the smaller rear bout on this guitar. A larger person might find this size guitar to be less desirable due to the lack of arm support while smaller people will welcome the petite body. The fingerboard is a 15 inch radius and the neck size is neither small nor a boat neck. The neck shape is distinctly different than the V style of Martin guitars. I love the Martin necks but this neck is a very comfortable neck and easy to grip. The frets are cut well with no overhang and butted to the edge of the fingerboard. The super cool feature is the slotted headstock. This design affords easy access to the tuning knobs and makes tuning a joy. However, some might complain about string installation with this configuration because one must employ a little more effort when holding the strings and turning the tuning keys. This complaint about the slotted headstock is the same fuss I've heard about 99% of all classical guitars and unless you are changing strings daily, it shouldn't be an issue--hardly a deal breaker for this player. The scale is 24 7/8th which is great for a personal guitar. The size of this model's body makes for sensible volume levels where it will top out if you strum hard. If you employ aggressive strumming then you should seek a different model guitar with a larger body and longer scale as this guitar never had that style of playing in mind as a functional requirement.

Playability is awesome if you love blues or folk finger picking. The short scale affords easier string bends due to reduced string tension per scale. The tone is slightly brighter than a Martin 000-28 which many consider to be an alternative. I tuned the GC-8 guitar down for a little slide playing and found that this style is not a perfect match for this guitar. In contrast, my Taylor 514 CE plays far better in slide style and I attribute this to the 25.5 inch scale. As a side note, I am not sold on the coated strings of any brand (see article) but I think many people will appreciate the coated string's ability to reduce string oxidation. A plectrum user might find this guitar to be an appreciable challenge at first but a little time on the instrument provided me with broad array of tones short on only deep baritone values of which I didn't expect from this size and type of instrument.

Portability of the instrument is excellent especially since it fits most airplane over head compartments. The case fits fine but I don't like the fixed handles which I've found to be subject to premature wear but otherwise the case is rugged and protective.

Most of the Taylor GC models do not come with pickups or the expression system although you can order this guitar to be custom built with the expression system as well as a variety of wood combinations.

I would strongly suggest trying out one of these guitars even if you have decided to purchase a long scale dreadnought guitar. The wonderful playability, portability, pleasing aesthetics and delightful tone might fuel your desire to diversify your guitar quiver.

More musician jokes!

What's the difference between an oboe and an onion?
No one cries when you chop up an oboe.

What's the difference between a bassoon and a trampoline?
You take off your shoes when you jump on a trampoline.

Why did the chicken cross the road?
To get away from the bassoon recital.

Why do clarinetists leave their cases on the dashboard?
So they can park in the handicapped zones.

What is "perfect pitch?"
When you lob a clarinet into a toilet without hitting the rim.

What's the definition of a nerd?
Someone who owns his own alto clarinet.

What do you call a bass clarinetist with half a brain?

What's the difference between a lawn mower and a soprano sax?
You can tune a lawn mower, and the neighbors are upset if you borrow a lawn mower and don't return it.

If you were lost in the woods, who would you trust for directions: an in-tune tenor sax player, an out of tune tenor sax player, or Santa Claus?
The out of tune tenor sax player. The other two indicate you are hallucinating.

How do you make a chain saw sound like a baritone sax?
Add vibrato.

How do you make a trombone sound like a french horn?
Stick your hand in the bell and play all the wrong notes.

What's the difference between a dead trombonist in the road and a dead snake in the road?
Skid marks in front of the snake.

What's the difference between a dead trombonist in the road and a dead country singer in the road?
The country singer might've been on his way to a recording session.

How do you improve the aerodynamics of a trombonist's car?
Take the Domino's Pizza sign off the roof.

What kind of calendar does a trombonist use for his gigs?

What's the range of a tuba?
About twenty yards, if you have a good arm.

What's a tuba for?
1-1/2" by 3-1/2".

What do you call someone who hangs around with musicians?
A drummer.

What does a timpanist say when he gets to work?
"Would you like fries with that, sir?"

What did the drummer get on his I.Q. test?

"Hey buddy, how late does the band play?"
"Oh, about a half a beat behind the drummer."

How can you tell when a drummer is at your door?
The knock gets faster.

How can you tell when a soprano is at your door?
You can't. She can't find the key, and doesn't know when to come in.

How long does a harp stay in tune?
About twenty minutes, or until someone opens the door.

Why are a violinist fingers like lightning?
They rarely strike the same spot twice.

How can you tell if a violin is out of tune?
The bow is moving.

Why is a violinist like a scud missile?
Both are offensive and inaccurate.

What do violists use for birth control?
Their personalities.

How do you make a violin sound like a viola?
Sit in the back and don't play.

What's the difference between a violist and a dog?
The dog knows when to stop scratching.

Did you hear about the violist who bragged he could play 32nd notes? The rest of the orchestra didn't believe him, so he proved it by playing one.

Why are violins smaller than violas?
They really are the same size, but the violinists' heads are bigger.

What's the difference between violists and terrorists?
Terrorists have sympathizers.

How do you make a cello sound beautiful?
Sell it and buy a violin.

What's the difference between a cello and a coffin?
The coffin has the corpse inside.

Why are orchestra intermissions limited to 20 minutes?
So you don't have to re-train the cellists.

One string bass player was so bad, even his section noticed.

How do you put a twinkle in a soprano's eye?
Shine a flashlight in her ear.

What's the definition of a gentleman?
One who knows how to play the accordion, but doesn't.

If you took all the tenors in the world and laid them end to end...
it would be a good idea.

Where's a tenor's resonance?
Where his brain should be.

What do you call ten baritones at the bottom of the ocean?
A good start.

What's the definition of a male quartet?
Three men and a tenor.

If you drop a conductor and a watermelon off a tall building, which will hit the ground first?
Who cares?

What's the difference between a conductor and a sack of fertilizer?
The sack.

What's the definition of an optimist?
A choral director with a mortgage.

What's another definition of an optimist?
An accordion player with a pager.

A musician calls the symphony office to talk to the conductor.
"I'm sorry, he's dead," comes the reply.
The musician calls back 25 times, always getting the same reply form the receptionist.
At last she asks him why he keeps calling.
"I just like to hear you say it."

Why do bagpipers walk when they play?
To get away from the sound.

How do you get a violist to play down bow staccato?
Put a tenuto mark over a whole note and mark it "solo."

What's the best recording of the Walton Viola Concerto?
"Music Minus One"

How do you get a cellist to play fortissimo?
Write "pp, espressivo" on the music.

What's the difference between a soprano and the PLO?
You can negotiate with the PLO.

Three guys are sitting at a bar.

#1: "...Yeah, I make $75,000 a year after taxes."
#2: "What do you do for a living?"
#1: "I'm a stockbroker. How much do you make?
#2: "I should clear $60,000 this year."
#1: "What do you do?"
#2: "I'm an architect."
The third guy has been sitting there quietly, staring into his beer, when the others turn to him.
#2: "Hey, how much do you make per year?"
#3: "Gee...hmmm...I guess about $13,000."
#1: "Oh yeah? What kind of sticks do you use?"

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Fender S-1 switch looks engaged when it isn't !?

I really do like the samarium cobalt pickups employed by Fender in conjunction with the S-1 system. However, there are a few complaints that I'd like to fix. The first complaint is that the S-1 switch often looks like it is engaged (depressed in the photo above) when it in fact is not engaged. The second complaint is that it is difficult to turn the volume pot. If you look closely at the header photo you will see very small gap between the bottom of the pot knob and the top of the pick-guard. What most people have done is press down the pot knob until it is flush with the pick-guard and therefore friction develops between the pot knob and the pick-guard.

To fix this problem I found that I would need to remove the pot cap entirely. This must be done carefully to prevent damaging the pot cap. The pot cap is fragile and relatively expensive in terms of mass to cost. I used a tool in order to prevent damaging my customers' guitar.

Next, I removed the potentiometer from the pick-guard using a knob/bushing puller (StewMac) and removed the lock washer located between the pot and the underside of the pick-guard.

The culprit!

I find that this washer is a little too thick and the pot cap doesn't seat low enough to prevent the S-1 switch from looking like it is "ON."

I swapped out the old lock-ring and installed a thinner washer shown on the left below. The thinner washer allows more of the pot shaft to be exposed thus allowing the outer pot cap to sit deeper on the potentiometer. With the outer portion of the pot cap sitting lower the inner S-1 sits higher and no longer appears to be engaged.

You must be certain to hold the pot when you tighten it to the pick-guard otherwise the assemble will not go back together properly. If the pick-guard assemble doesn't just drop back into the body cavity then you have to adjust the rotation orientation of the pots so that they do not interfere with the wire harness or touch the wood of the guitar body.

When installing the S-1 switch you must first install the S-1 center piece. Adjust the volume pot so it lines up with ten then install the cap assemble (S-1) going in the pot hole first, with the number ten closest to the pick-up screw as illustrated below.

Carefully seat the pot cap with the S-1 shaft going in first. I placed a thickness gauge (~0.89mm/0.035") beneath the pot cap to set a gap. If you don't have a thickness gauge handy you could use a business card or an extra thin guitar pick beneath the pot cap to prevent pushing the pot cap on too deeply. See illustration below.

Once you are completed the switch will line up and not look like it's engaged when it is NOT and visa versa.

Nice, all done and ready to go!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Guitar Buzz Diagnosis

Buzzing is generally characterized as unwanted noise generated while playing the instrument. The cause of this unwanted noise is usually an anomaly that can be fixed. Some buzzing can be a symptoms of more serious problems.

The following is a list of buzz causes:

  1. Low action
  2. High action
  3. Relief
  4. Light gauge strings
  5. Low nut
  6. Nut groove too tight or loose
  7. Back buzz
  8. Low saddle
  9. Flat saddle
  10. Deeply notched saddle
  11. Uneven frets
  12. Low frets
  13. Flat frets
  14. String interference
  15. Stray string ends
  16. Damaged strings
  17. Loose parts
  18. Broken parts
  19. Technique - Sorry, but this is true. If are playing an acoustic and you employ the same amount of force as what might be used on an electric guitar - you might need to reassess the amount of force applied. In addition, a heavy pick could cause increased force and therefore create a buzz condition.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Graph Tech Ferra - Glide Saddles and similar products - Breaking strings often?

Graph Tech Ferra - Glide Saddles and similar products - Breaking strings often?

You are not alone if you break strings as it is a natural occurrence for guitar players. However, this problem can be limited and I will try to outline a remedy for this situation. But first, there are a series of questions to ask yourself in order to properly assess the situation at hand.

How old are my strings?
Do they break in the same location each time?

Old strings wear at the terminal nodes - called the nut and the bridge. At these points of contact a great deal of vibration affects the string, ultimately wearing the string material and weakening the substrate.

String breakage at these points is dependent on the following influences: amount of friction, applied force, material hardness, string tension, time, and string scale. Without doubt, I probably missed a few attributes but nonetheless those are the prevalent models of effects. String breakage occurring at the same point of contact usually is a friction issue.

One point of contact where friction is dominate is the bridge saddle. The first thing one can do is swap the saddle with an opposing saddle from another string - I chose a string on the bass side (Warning - doing this will require setting your intonation or marking your saddle position before removing). For my case, this made zero difference and I was still breaking strings (Fender American Deluxe Stratocaster with tremolo). I tried to polish metal saddles using a Dremel tool with a fine brush, being careful so not to distort the saddle shape then I used a cotton Dremel tip to achieve a final fine finish. The string breakage decreased in frequency but string breakage occurred in less than a week (I took care to not be hard on them during the test period) but ultimately the problem remained unsolved. For me, I had to fix the problem quickly because I needed the instrument to work properly in a short amount of time. Now I had run several experiments and though I gained valuable information, the problem remained unsolved.

Enter Graph Tech. This company provided a solution - Ferra-Glide saddles. These units intrigued me and I ordered one set for my Fender Stratocaster. Installation was simple as I ascertained the proper saddle needed for my model; note YOUR preferred string height and if you do not know how to intonate your guitar you should also NOTE THE SADDLE LOCATIONS - FORE AND AFT. Install and tune. A month later my strings were dead as can be but still in one piece. This product is a simple cost effective solution to premature string breakage.

In addition, I found that the material used for the contact point of the saddle seemed to improve sustain and clarity of my guitars. Harmonic output was unaffected and the tone is more detailed. The lack of premature breakage inspired new confidence in my guitar. A worry I had was that my tone would sound thicker or muddy but this was not the case. Also, the units are self-lubricating due to the nature of the material. Do I like them and recommend them? Yes, I bought a second set for my PRS Customer 24 that was also exhibiting premature string breakage at the saddle terminal node. Two thumbs up!!

These saddles are worth the cost and so far have been in use on my guitars for over five years now and therefore all this data is gleaned from real world abuse and constant testing by yours truly. I've worked with PTFE products for many years, I am pleased that the saddles are holding up but real world experience will tell me that some time in the future I will need to replace these units (PTFE will deform under load, i.e, creep) and therefore I always recommend - DO NOT THROW AWAY YOUR ORIGINAL PARTS post upgrading. Collectors are very particular and if your guitar becomes collectible you will have lost a great deal of value by throwing your old parts in the trash!

Keep in mind that we all must change our strings regularly. If you are playing four hours a day then replacing strings daily would not be unusual. Playing an hour a day might require once a week replacement. All of this is subjective to the user and therefore an acquired preference. I met an old Delta player who quipped that his strings were older than some of his grand-kids! It's all good! Maybe you too need to upgrade to new Ferra-glide saddles or like products to make your time on the instrument more enjoyable?!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Improve your Guitar playing Immediately!

Improve your Guitar playing Immediately!

Have you ever found yourself playing the guitar and suddenly determine that the sounds coming from your guitar sounds like moose farts? Poor note sustain? String buzzing with fluttering instead of tones?Then I have the cure for you! Put down the Cheeto's and wash your hands. Grimy fingers will bugger up your fret board and load the strings with Cheeto's, oils, and nasty skin follicles. That's right nastiness!

It is amazing what a little soap will do for your playing. Use the soap on your fingers - Not your guitar and change your strings often. Having 20 year old vintage strings on your guitar is nothing to brag about unless you are a collector and not a player. If you play often, change strings often. It's not cheap so you should buy in bulk. Determine a brand and gauge that works for you and then buy as many as you can afford in order to save more money! I hate to steer you away from your local music store but if you cannot get a great deal from your local dealer then try or

Now get the hell on! :)

Friday, September 3, 2010

Unknown Hinson King of Country Western Troubadours!

This man is the reel deel. He don't takes no mess, and he don't play no rawk music..
Well, except when he's playing rawk music...
"I never drink anything you can see
through...meaning anything clear - like gin, vodka...Everclear. Anything golden is fine!"

Hinson learnt guitar from his mother who showed him one chord, "an C-chord she told me ifn I wansta learnt it, then I will! an I Learnt it!"

He don't take no drugs an don't do no hallucinogenizen neither!

Thaank bout it.............

And more of Hinson's classics........ heez a filofficer two

Seriously, Hinson is the real deal and an excellent guitarist. If you listen close you can hear some hot licks! He has his own signature model Reverend guitar. He also plays Telecasters and seems to favor Vox amps. The guy has excellent tone, tasty guitar licks and shtick. No doubt he does make his share of misogynistic remarks, likes to take a drank, and he loves them Cadillacs but that is his shtick. Check him out. Oh yeah, he is also one of the Squidbillies and worked as a side man for the Boxmasters.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Tila Tequila - Why you pay so much to have your guitar repaired and so much more!!

I conclude that people like Tila Tequila however vapid and obtuse seem to proliferate during tough times. Why do we pay any attention to this Lamborghini leasing, tonsil mangling, teenage fantasy girl? Is it that we all want to do nothing and be well paid for Potemkin Meritocracy?

Now we have hard economic times and during these times we need to be frugal and being frugal requires us to be self reliant. In order to insulate and extricate themselves from dependence on a obscure global market people are looking to gain tangible skills. Lately, the local community colleges are filling shop and industrial classes with people who already have four year degrees. This is a shift in thinking from the techno revolution, heavy binary, less obtrusive work.

There is trouble brewing because in addition to the current economic fiasco there are many people who are unhappy in their work. Their jobs have obscure and contrived metrics, their bosses are under the guise of therapists or career coaches to their so-called teams. Worse, the arbitrary goals and objectives of these teams are more difficult to trace and leave the high achievers in the shadows while individuals with uncanny modes of manipulation shirk daily duties and pine for management attention.

Many people are trying to recover from the rapid descent of their assets base while they maintain jobs that will soon be outsourced. Careers that were once thought of as safe are no longer safe. Nurses for example, there was a shortage but there are other countries on this planet that have social systems that support free education. This resource was tapped and now we have an over abundance of nurses. We want the best for our children, we place them in tutorial classes in addition to their normal studies but are we only succeeding at producing students that can answer questions on standardized tests, site facts, but they cannot turn a screw driver or operate a shovel. Are we producing kidbots that will not be able to fix their toilet or change a tire unless the facts and instructions are available on YouTube or on their Iphone? We worry that we are becoming stupider and as we grow older we ponder if we really have an adequate grasp on the world.

Could it be that we will have a post technology revolution where some people decide that they can only find satisfaction in working with their hands? The current trend will dictate that soon there will be many proverbial chiefs and very few Indians then the question of how much a plumber costs will be a relevant question. So fear not, if you are unable to wield tools or fix things then your day of reckoning is near because obscure objectives and obtuse metrics driven by fear mongering pseudo life coach bosses are driving intellectuals into the trades and the prices of basic repairs will ascend as the need increases. Fibonacci sequence reflects this trend so get out your wallet Millennial's because whether the instrument you play or the toilet you flush works well will depend on someone with tangible skills. So there is a price to pay for our technology revolution that has given us the ability of being disburdened of involvement in our stuff.

So there is a price to pay and pay it you will. If your guitar, washing machine, car, bicycle, cell phone needs repair you will need to pay the person fixing this item and pay them well. China won't help, you cannot go there today and shipping, insurance, and time will vanquish this idea. And what if the electricity was off for a day? Well, lets just say that would be really bad news indeed.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Guild Guitars - Rich tone and history

I remember many moons ago when I happened into the old Guitar Center in downtown San Jose to look at and play some acoustic guitars. I didn't have much money but I knew what I wanted. My desire was to buy a 12 string guitar so I could play just a handful of songs that featured this full 12 string tone and sound. Before I bought my guitar I tried two guitars that I certainly couldn't afford to buy. One guitar was the ever popular Gibson Hummingbird and the other was a 12 string Guild JF-55. The effect the Guild had on me was magical and to this day I search for the same big tone that seemed to brighten the room and fill every space with rich tone.

Guild guitars have been around for a while but not nearly as long as Martin or Gibson instruments. Guild was founded by Avram Dronge in New York City in 1952. Guild guitars began during a time when manufacturing in the United States was becoming unionized. The unionized laborors are not inexpensive and this costly workforce had an ill effect on Epiphone, forcing Epiphone to move its factory to Philedelphia. The displaced Epiphone workforce in New York City was snapped up by Dronge for his new Guild product. Soon Guild was producing fine quality instruments.

Dronge sold Guild to Avnet electronic parts suppliers while remaining President in 1966. Guild relocated to Westerly, Rhode Island. Guild maintained its reputation as a fine acoustic and electric guitar manufacturer but an uncanny tragedy struck Dronge as he was killed in a plane crash. Guild's vice president took over and managed the company until 1983. Avnet was experiencing financial turmoil and was looking to sell Guild to focus on different emerging markets. In 1989, Avnet sold Guild to U.S. Musical Corporation who managed the company for the next six years.

U.S. Musical Corporation promptly suspended much of Guild's Electric production. Guild now focused exclusively on acoustic products. In 1995, Fender Musical Instrument Coproration, in a bold move, purchased Guild from U.S. Musical Corporationand reintroduced the Electronic guitar line while opening a Guild Custom Shop in Nashville, Tennessee. Fender also hired noted Luthier Robert Benedetto to build high-end Guilds. At this point Guild had experienced at least three relocations to their manufacturing facilities.

Purchasing Guild was the first in what would be a series of major business acquisitions for Fender Musical Instrument Corporation. This acquisition would be the start of a new series of manufacturing relocations for Guild. Fender Musical Instrument Corporation (FMIC) wanted to consolidate production and thus moved Guild manufacturing to Corona, California. Then FMIC decided to purchase Tacoma Guitar and once again moved Guild to Tacoma, Washington. Then FMIC acquired Kaman Music Corporation and moved Guild to Hartford, Connecticut in hopefully that last move in a series of six relocations. FMIC still employs Guild to make high-end acoustic instruments. These instruments once again have that storied tone and wonderful playability. I will always associate Guild acoustics with large ambient tone with unique bass tones and bell-like notes from the high strings.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Placing things in Perspective

We all have days where we feel challenged. Our bills, boss, mortgage, sewer, traffic, pickup truck, and dog just seem to be aligned with evil. There are many complex axioms and paradigms available to sooth and ponder in order to render sense to our troubles. So at risk of being clich├ęd I have included a simple list to remember the facts of life.


The most destructive habit
The greatest Joy (Giving)
The greatest loss (Loss of self-respect)
The most satisfying work (Helping others)
The ugliest personality trait (Selfishness)
The most endangered species (Dedicated leaders)
Our greatest natural resource (Our youth)
The greatest "shot in the arm (Encouragement)
The greatest problem to overcome (Fear)
The most effective sleeping pill (Peace of mind)
The most crippling failure disease (Excuses)
The most powerful force in life (Love)
The most dangerous pariah (A gossiper )
The world's most incredible computer (The brain)
The worst thing to be without (Hope)
The deadliest weapon (The tongue)
The two most power-filled words (I Can)
The greatest asset (Faith)
The most worthless emotion (Self-pity)
The most beautiful attire (A SMILE)
The most prized possession (Integrity)
The most contagious spirit (Enthusiasm)

Now pick up your musical instrument and get together with a friend or stranger and make music!

Friday, August 6, 2010

Jimmy Bruno on Tommy Tedesco, Barry Cleveland

As a youngster I knew all about Tommy Tedesco. He was usually wearing a hat and was a bit portly. I can still see him in my minds eye but my view is from the perspective of a prepubescent kid. All of my guitar hero's spoke of Tommy with reverence and affection for the man and his skills. If I learned anything in my lessons it was that Tommy's skills were the mad skills that I needed to challenge myself to beat in order to read music well. I can read music but I still am far from Tommy's skills.

Jimmy Bruno shares some of his experiences with Tommy Tedesco in this article written by Barry Cleveland of GP magazine. The article is brief and candid. Enjoy! Scott/

Below is the link to Jimmy's story about the Great Tommy Tedesco
Jimmy Bruno on Tommy Tedesco, Barry Cleveland

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Sonny Landreth and Eric Clapton

Ever hear of these two guys? Eric Clapton has played in a few bands or at least that is what I've heard ;)

Do you think Eric and Sonny go to the same Barber shop? LOL

Eric's blue stratocaster is nice looking. Blackie might be famous but blue is cool! Sonny teaches us all how to properly hold a guitar and schools us on slide techniques of a higher order.

Look for the new Cross-Roads concert video to come out in December of 2010. In the meantime, buy a big screen LED Television and wait!

Saturday, July 31, 2010

VHT Special 6 Review

Have you noticed lately? Ice cream costs the same but the container is smaller, a cereal box is the same size but the contents weigh less, cans of tomato sauce have changed the volume (which really messes with some recipes) that do not list the actual mass or volume but simply state 'can'" but the price is the same! The point I am trying to make is that we consumers are being chiseled as my grandpa would say....

However, fear not VHT has a nice little surprise for us and it is a nice value - The Special 6 is a 6 watt class A amp that really has some cool tones. Naw, VHT didn't try to reinvent the wheel but simply make the spokes better so to say.

VHT is an American company that outsources some of it's work to China. The eyelet board is plugged in China. Nice work and it's easy for someone like me to fix but I shouldn't have to deal with that since it has a 5 year warranty and is build like a Patton Tank save for the weight. The eyelet board is easy to modify if you are into tinkering - just be careful of to discharge the capacitors. What I like is the simplicity of the design, two knobs (volume and tone), two inputs (high and low), two power modes (high and low), and the volume switch doubles as a boost if you pull up on the potentiometer.

$200 dollars and I can carry it in one hand and my guitar in the other. Bliss....

The nice thing about this amp is that you can get a nice distortion by cranking up the volume. Humbuckers really get nasty while my Single coils have a nice jangle even without the reverb.

There are two power modes: high and low, with the low being fine with humbuckers and the high giving a little more power behind the single coils.

Another nice feature is the foot switch. Albeit the switch could be a little more rugged it still serves the purpose. Pull the volume switch up and you get an added boost. The foot switch lets you toggle between a over driven tone or a cleaner tone but the clean still remains a little distorted at volume. I expected this since this is a low volume amplifier. I think most users will like this feature.

I think this VHT Special 6 would be a nice addition to apartment dwellers, new parents, home studios that want differing tones. Really cool guys - thanks!

Here is more information!

VHT Special 6 Combo

Boutique amp players will love the Special 6’s combination of handwired tube goodness, unique features and unparalleled value. The mod-friendly Special 6 is easy to customize for home amp builders and tube amp enthusiasts.

The Special 6 gets its powerful tube sound from one 12AX7 preamp tube and one 6V6 output tube. It boasts a footswitchable Gain Boost feature that significantly expands its range of tones -- it's the only amp in its class that excels at both clean and overdriven tones, and it's the only amp in its class to offer a footswitchable boost. With the Gain Boost, players can instantly toggle between clean rhythm tones and overdriven leads, essentially duplicating the footswitchable functions of a 2-channel amp in an all-tube, handwired, simple, 2-knob package.

To further expand its range of tones, the Special 6 also features a High/Low power switch that enhances low-volume tones with extra-smooth richness (when in half-power mode). It's a great feature for recording, or for low-volume "bedroom" players. In high-power mode, it's one of the few amps in its class that is loud enough to compete with a strong drummer. The Special 6 combo is outfitted with a special high sensitivity 10" VHT Special Design speaker.

6 Watts
One 6V6 Output Tube
One 12AX7 Preamp Tube
Volume and Tone Controls
Footswitchable Boost Mode
High/Low Power Switch
10” VHT High-Sensitivity Speaker
4, 8, and 16 Ohm Speaker Jacks
Mod-Friendly Eyelet-Type Board
Hand-wired In China
Model: AV-SP1-6

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Jonny Lang Brings His Own Blues, Michael Ross

Jonny Lang Brings His Own Blues, Michael Ross



Ride for Dime - Charity Event

Ride For Dime, a 501c3 charitable organization, memorializes guitar hero and friend, "Dimebag" Darrell Abbott along with Jeff Thompson, Nathan Bray, and Erin Halk. Ride for Dime proudly gives back to the charities that were of interest to Dime during his life as well as charities he would have been proud to be a part of, like Little Kids Rock. Check out the video below for more information.

Click here for extensive information.

Ride for Dime be starting again this year at:

Longhorn Harley Davidson
2830 W Interstate 20
Grand Prairie, Texas

Bikes will start staging at 1:30 pm and the ride will leave out at 3:15 pm.

Event Start Time: Saturday July 31, 2010 at 4:00pm
Event End Time: Sunday August 1, 2010 at 2:00am
Location: Dreamworld Music Complex 3102 W. Division St. Arlington, TX.

RIDE FOR DIME 2010 Lineup
Conviction (Rockin Kids Cover Band) 4pm
Souless Intent
100 Proof Hatred
Whiskey Dick
Threat Level
White Collar Ghetto
Texas Hippie Coalition
Cowboys From Hell Paso
Doors open at 4pm)
RIDE FOR DIME 2010, c'mon!

Get more information at

San Jose Jazz Festival -

The Jazz Festival should be interesting this year. Among the many performers attending this year will be George Clinton.

George Clinton is an American musician and the principal architect of P-Funk. He was the mastermind of the bands Parliament and Funkadelic during the 1970s and early 1980s, and has been a solo funk artist since 1981. He has been called one of the most important innovators of funk music, next to James Brown and Sly Stone. Clinton was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1997 with fifteen other members of Parliament-Funkadelic.

In 1982, Clinton signed to Capitol Records as a solo artist and as the P-Funk All-Stars, releasing Computer Games that same year. Loopzillahit the Top 20 R&B charts, followed by Atomic Dog, which reached #1 R&B, but peaked at #101 on the pop chart. In 1985, he was recruited by the Red Hot Chili Peppers to produce their album Freaky Styley.l. In 1989, Clinton released The Cinderella Theory on Paisley Park, on Prince's record label. This was followed by Hey Man, Smell My Finger. Clinton then signed with Sony 550 and released The Awesome Power of a Fully Operational Mothership in 1996. Clinton founded a record label called The C Kunspyruhzy in 2005.

In 2008, George appeared on the reality show Gone County 3, where seven celebrities moved into a Nashville mansion and competed to cross over into the country music scene. With his Gone Country experience, George wrote his country song; Time Is. In 2008, he also released his solo album George Clinton and His Gangsters of Love.. Largely a covers album, Gangsters featured guest appearances by Sly Stone, El DeBarge, Red Hot Chili Peppers, RZA, Carlos Santana, and gospel singer Kim Burrell.
George Clinton & Parliament/Funkadelic: George Clinton, Belita Woods, Bennie Cowan, Cardwell "Boogie" Mosson, Carlos McMurray, Danny Dedrosian, Dewayne "Blackbyrd" McKinght, Frankie "Kash" Waddy, Garry "Starchild" Shider, Gene Anderson, Greg Thomas, Jerome Rogers, Kim Manning, Lige Curry, Louie Kabbabie, Michael "Clip" Payne, Michael "Kid Funkadelic" Hampton, Paul Hill, Rico Lewis, Robert "Peanut" Johnson, Ron Sperman, Steven Boyd & Tracey Lewis.

George Clinton
He has been called one of the most important innovators of funk music, next to James Brown and Sly Stone.
Main Stage, Friday, August 13 at 7:30pm

Maceo Parker is world-famous funk and soul jazz saxophone player, best known for his contributions to James Brown's distinct sound.
Main Stage, Saturday, August 14 at 2:00pm

Irma Thomas
The best kept secret from New-Orleans. A soul queen in the tradition of Aretha Franklin and Etta James.
Main Stage, Saturday, August 14 at 6:00pm

about the performers

Aaron Lington Quintet
Altered Roots Quartet
Amina Figarova Sextet
Annette A. Aguilar & StringBeans
Anthony Blea y su Charanga
Bill Noteman and the Rockets
Bobby Matos and his Afro Latin Ensemble
Carolyn Wonderland
Coto Pincheira & the Sonido Moderno Project
Crystal Monee Hall
Dani Paige Band
Dara Tucker
DeJazz Vu
Fatum Brothers' Jazz Orchestra
Ford Blues Band with Robben Ford
George Clinton & Parliament/Funkadelic
Gretchen Parlato Band
Grover Washington Tribute
Grupo Falso Baiano
Harold Fethe Trio
Harvey Wainapel's Alegritude
Irma Thomas Soul Queen of New Orleans
Jazz Mafia's Brass, Bows and Beats
JC Smith Band
Jeff Hamilton Trio
Jessica Johnson
Jesus Diaz Y Su QBA
Joe Bagale
John Ellis & Double-Wide
John Handy
Kat Parra
La Marraqueta Jazz Fusion Criolla
Latin Rhythm Boys
Let's Play Jazz
Los Gatos / Saratoga Big Band
Louie Romero y su Mazacote
Lucy Woodward
Maceo Parker
Marcus Miller Tutu Revisited
Mia Borders
Michelle Pollace's Jazz Y Clave
Midnight Sol
MILK & JADE by Dana Leong
Montuno Swing
Ms.Taylor P. Collins
Nnenna Freelon
Orquesta Borinquen
Pellejo Seco
Pete Christlieb
Pete Yellin Quintet Featuring Barry Finnerty
Poblano Project
Ray Obiedo & Mambo Caribe
Razin' the Bar
Round Midnight
Ruthie Foster
SJJ High School Big Band
SJJ High School Latin Band
Stephanie Nakasian with the San Jose Jazz Orchestra
Steve Lucky and the Rhumba Bums
Sylvia Cuenca Latin Jazz Project
The Tamburr / Vitchev Project
Tony Johns and the Street Lucy Project
Tony Lindsay
Tower of Power
Vijay Iyer Trio
VW Brothers
Wally Schnalle & Idiot Fish
Yoshiaki Miyanoue Tokyo Quartet

Monday, July 12, 2010

Carlos Santana Is Engaged to Drummer Cindy Blackman

"Being in love is a gift from the universe, and the spirit and vibrations that come with it are infinitely powerful. I look forward to expressing that incredible energy through my music, and in helping to tip the balance toward more love in the world with what Cindy and I share."

Carlos Santana Is Engaged to Drummer Cindy Blackman

DBZ Guitars Awarded “Best In Show” at 2010 Summer NAMM

From GuitarEdge

DBZ Guitars wins Best in Show Award at this year’s National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM) trade show held in Nashville, TN.

“We are honored. It is very rewarding to be able to build guitars to the level of quality I expect from an instrument again. It’s even more rewarding to give the industry instruments they are so satisfied with. I wanted to take guitar building out of the dark ages and deliver guitars that players would get excited about”, says Dean B. Zelinsky, CEO of DBZ Guitars. “Watching their excitement makes it all worthwhile,” Zelinsky continued.

Legendary guitar designer Dean B. Zelinsky well earned his reputation of taking guitar making to the next level. In 2008, Zelinsky severed ties from his previous company and established DBZ Guitars, which was a continuation of his pursuit to doing just that.

The Best In Show award is based on a six panelist group in the musical instrument business. Each of whom represent single store operations, small to mid size chains and one of the industry’s top trade magazines, Music Inc. The six individuals are selected each year and remain anonymous during the show insuring a fresh perspective.

Brian Reardon was one of the panelists chosen this year. He owns Monster Music in Levittown, New York and had this to say about the DBZ line: “Modern computer technology is combined with arguably the trade’s most imaginative guitar builder, Dean B. Zelinsky, the founder of Dean Guitars. Watch out! The carvings on these guitars would have been an impossibility in an earlier time. Zelinsky seems to have a knack for intuiting what the public will want to buy before they want to buy it. The Imperial is like nothing you have ever seen before and, with its wafer-thin body, begs the question why no one had thought of it before.”

Link to Dean's guitar catalog.

To learn more about DBZ guitars, visit

Thursday, July 8, 2010

How do I correctly change the strings on my guitar?

First, turn the tuning key until the hole in the string post is in line with the nut
slot. Next, pass the string through the hole pulling it up so there's about 2" between the finger board and the string keeping the string taught at the bridge end. This should allow for about 2½ or 3 windings on the string post once you’re done. You don't want any more than that - excessive windings can cause the string to slip continuously when tuning!
Now you will pull the string toward the center of the headstock and loop it underneath and over itself up against the string post. Next, start turning the tuning key winding the string on the post. Be sure the windings go from the top down thus creating a greater angle from the string post to the nut. This puts more downward pressure in the nut and increases your sustain. By installing the string in this manner it will have wound around itself once giving it something to “hang onto”, and once properly stretched should stay in tune great!
Next we'll talk about stringing a guitar with vintage style Kluson tuners which have a split post (these are found on many Fender Strats and Telecasters). What you do is pass the string through the bridge end and pull it tight. Measure about 2" past the tuning post of the string you’re changing (I use the handle of my plastic string winder which is just about 2" long) and cut the string. Now stick the cut string end down the center hole of the post and start winding. Cutting the string like this you’ll have about 3 windings on the string post and once again be sure to wind from the top down! Properly installed strings always stay in tune better, have greater sustain and take much less stretching to become stable.

Former Kiss Guitarist Loses Bankruptcy Appeal

By Patrick Fitzgerald
Former Kiss guitarist Vinnie “Wiz” Vincent has lost his bankruptcy appeal, paving the way for his former band mates to sell his Kiss songwriting copyrights for payment of a judgment they won against him.

A three-judge bankruptcy panel for the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has affirmed a ruling by a Tennessee bankruptcy judge that Vincent filed his most recent bankruptcy — his third Chapter 13 bankruptcy filing in three years — in bad faith and barred him from seeking Chapter 13 bankruptcy protection for two years.

Vincent, whose real is Vincent John Cusano, is trying to block Kiss from selling his copyrights in such songs as “Lick It Up” and “Young and Wasted” to pay off an $82,000, according to a judgment in a separate California lawsuit.

That judgment is the result of attorneys’ fees due to Kiss members Gene Simmons, Paul Stanley and others after Vincent unsuccessfully sued them for unpaid royalties and defamation. The band members want to sell Vincent’s copyrights to pay off the judgment.

Last year, Vincent’s lawyer at the time argued such a sale would “absolutely” leave the musician “destitute, as the property sought to be sold constitutes the debtor’s life’s work.”

The appellate panel also shot down Vincent’s argument that any mistakes made in his case were inadvertent and because of the facts that he fired his bankruptcy lawyer and was representing himself pro se, a legal term meaning representing yourself.

“We cannot excuse a lack of good faith based on debtor’s pro se status, particularly when the debtor was in fact represented by counsel or had retained counsel during the vast majority of his time in the bankruptcy court but failed to follow counsel’s advice,” the panel said in court papers.

In 1982 Vincent, a onetime staff writer for the TV show “Happy Days,” was hired by Kiss for $2,000 a week to replace original guitarist Ace Frehley. He served as the lead guitarist for the band from 1982 to 1984, playing on the “Creatures of the Night” and “Lick It Up” albums.

Dubbed the “Ankh Warrior” for his Egyptian-style face paint during the end of Kiss’s original makeup-wearing days, Vincent was also part of the band’s first nonmakeup lineup. But within a year of taking off the makeup, Vincent was out of the band, reportedly fired for “unethical” behavior.

After Kiss, Vincent, formed the over-the-top glam-metal outfit Vinnie Vincent Invasion, which released a pair of albums in the late 1980s. According to court papers Vincent, 56, now lives in the Nashville area. He couldn’t be reached for comment.

Kickoff to Summer NAMM 2010

Namn it!

Kickoff to Summer NAMM 2010

Carl Verheyen: Changing Sounds to Fit the Gig

Never heard of Carl Verheyen? You should open up your mind and clean your ears as this man can play! S/

Carl Verheyen: Changing Sounds to Fit the Gig

How To Restring a Classical Guitar

Stringing a classical guitar well is important for good tone, reduced string slippage, and technique. I don't like ball end nylon strings as they damage the bridge and ultimately ruin the bridge material. Shy from the ball ends even though they apply quickly and easily. If it's too good to be true then is usually isn't true!

How To Restring a Classical Guitar

Joe Bonamassa: on Non-Boring Blues Chording, Part 2, Matt Blackett

Joe Bonamassa: on Non-Boring Blues Chording, Part 2, Matt Blackett

10 Things You Gotta Do to Play Like Mike Bloomfield, Jesse Gress

10 Things You Gotta Do to Play Like Mike Bloomfield, Jesse Gress

Jesse Gress shows us how. Jesse is an awesome player and music transcriber. S/


Cool.... Though I take crap from people for liking them because of the parallels to California Guitar Trio. CGT was good but made me laugh when it was supposed to be serious. This lead to all of my friends laughing as well. Being in the front row, laughing is rude - Therefore, I had to extricate myself from the audience with friends boisterously following.


Bob Brozman on Open-G Around the World, Matt Blackett

Bob Brozman on Open-G Around the World, Matt Blackett

Kendrick Bad Ass Man, Art Thompson

Kendrick Bad Ass Man, Art Thompson

Sunday, July 4, 2010

JImmy Vaughan Interview - GuitarEdge's Jason Shadrick

Oh man you have got to be kidding me! Listen, Jimmy is too cool for school. First, he digs classic cars and hot rods. Second, has learned how to hit one note on the guitar and make us all wish we could play like him, and furthermore he's Stevie's older brother. I wouldn't know where to start when it comes to conversation with Jimmy Vaughan. Cars, guitars,boats and music in general.... Guitar Edge's Jason Shadrick asks Jimmy who his influences might be and Jimmy gives us the run down. If it was me interviewing, the interview would have not ended until we covered hot rods, guitars and the all encompassing music of the blues.

Jimmy Vaughan's put in his time, you can hear it and see it. In addition, he isn't finished learning about the guitar or music theory and openly admits he is still learning. Jimmy is honest about where his licks originate. The interview is great and has more depth than meets the ear. Lastly, we are all students of the guitar, music theory, being ignorant is not cool. The education ends when our hearts stop beating. Above all, keep practicing and never say you know it all! Stay at home and practice or stay at home!

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

ToneRite - Improve your Tone?

I had the opportunity to check out this fascinating device - ToneRite. Its creators claim that utilizing this tool will give acoustic instruments a played-in tone. Ideally, better tone is what we all seek and it is a search for what is most elusive - good tone. In fact, what is good tone? What I consider ideal may be horrible to others and therefore good tone is subjective. In order to determine what is good tone we probably need to agree on a standard of tone. This standard of tone is the proverbial can of worms. It seems the term, "opened up," seems to be the adjective used most. A loose interpretation of "opened up" means that the guitar vibrates more freely and there is a perceived increased in volume and frequency range. Does this tool improve an instrument's tone and playability?

The ToneRite tool subjects an instrument to vibration. This vibration simulates the effect playing has on a wooden instrument. ToneRite can be installed and run for hours or days. The tool is supposed to release tension inherent in the assembly of wooden instruments, thus the term "opened up," seems applicable. ToneRite maintains that entropy increases over time with an effect of reduced volume, frequency range, and playability. Does ToneRite work....?

I found that the ToneRite tool does work. A better question might be, is it worth the money to me? It's important to realize that if you start with a fine instrument then this will improve tone but at a level that might be imperceivable to the lay musician. The ToneRite will not reverse or change material variations, finish variation, macromolecular glue cell variations, periodic time induced stress, or elastic properties of the wood. Workmanship is another serious parameter that this tool simply was not designed to fix. In addition, there is a host of compartmental thermal induced stress which this tool is not designed to replicate. The tool does relieve stress but I would liken the variation to playing your guitar in a 60 degree F room verses a 75 degree F warm room. To me, this related more to playability than tone but then - frequently, and with very little argument, tone emanates from the fingers and a small percentage is applicable to the instrument. Placing a warm and comfortable instrument in your possession is far more likely to result in good tone than the playing of a cold instrument.

If you have invested in an instrument of value then $150.00 (USA) might be a worthy investment for a tool that subtly effects your instrument. On the contrary, if you have an inexpensive instrument then you would be better suited in spending an extra $150.00 towards a better instrument.

In a moment of reflection I found that there is a dichotomy where I can place the sound hole "O-port," on an inexpensive guitar and yield great results for $20 or place the ToneRite on my inexpensive guitar and yield less favorable results if considering cost over tone.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Crossroads Guitar Festival 2010

We are starved for music. Many years ago I would grab the pink section of the San Francisco Chronicle and look up all the events scheduled for summertime. Once upon a time we had Day on the Green, Bridge School event, Konocti Harbor and Garlic festival where I saw WAR play. However, times are tough but Great music is still alive and well.

The Crossroads festival is one of those epic events where you can see guitar GODS interacting with other respectable musicians and also with their own bands. However, this event is in danger of becoming extinct. Mr. Clapton and all of his minions put this show on with help of sponsors such as Guitar Center, Fender Music Corporation and other fabulous volunteers. This event helps undercut the cost of the rehabilitation clinic in Antigua. Well, an event of this size requires a lot of work and at one point Eric pondered making this the last festival. No man, pass the baton but don't stop!

Where else can you find such talent in one place short of the Olympics or the World Cup (FIFA)? Steve Winwood, Buddy Guy, BB King oh my god this is amazing. Let's not forget Mr. Chi town - Bill Murray! Bill Murray is the emcee for the second time and he is always pulling pranks and keeping us in stitches. The last festival....? No no no.

Over twenty acts or personalities made it to the stage for over 11 hours of entertainment. 11 hours, well, Woodstock was epic because of the epic shift in social conscience where Crossroads seems to epitomize our struggle with addiction, repression, depression and financial devastation. For 11 hours we can forget our troubles, help a good cause, and become afflicted with facial cramps from smiling and hooting to our hearts content. The show must go on.

One group was missing from this event, The Allman Brothers Band was absent due to Gregg's recent liver transplant (hopefully a Speedy recovery) but lets hope our prayers will be answered and The ABB will be in full force in 2011. Notably; Warren Haynes (ABB - Gvmint Mule), Derek Trucks attended and gave the crowd a taste of Beacon Theater's favorite band.

Where do I stop? Jimmie Vaughan is coming out with a new album and as usual, played a few notes that hit the crowd like lightning bolts. BB King? Come on man, Hubert Sumlin..... Reverend Willy Gibbons and ZZ TOP and Johnny Winters was looking good and playing like someone rolled the clocks back. Shoot, if Willie Nelson was there, one might have to pinch oneself.

If I could be so selfish, I'd wish that this event occurred four times a year. I'd had the event in the North, South, East and finally the West. The concert would be within driving range of all regions. However, there are far too many acts to expect this to happen twice much less four times a year as it is a logistic nightmare. So, those who couldn't make it to past shows should endeavor to see next year's show before this event becomes something we reminisce about and hold in reverence. If you can make to this show - GO.