NEWS: New guitar blog – Me and Mace: Japan Guitar Journeys

Just a heads-up about a new guitar blog, Me and Mace: Japan Guitar Journeys by Lewis. You may know him as Kotornut or Fettsnextbounty – he’s been a huge supporter of I Heart Guitar since the very beginning, and has contributed some great articles to the Jemsite community blog, so it’s cool to see him start his own blog.

Make sure you bookmark the blog and make it part of your regular reading!

http://japanguitarjourneys.blogspot.com/

NEWS: Wicked Chamelon Guitar makes life worth living

Here’s something cool Mrs I Heart Guitar spotted on the Make blog. It’s also doing the rounds on Twitter (Living Colour’s Vernon Reid tweeted it right as I started writing this story – spooky!). I’ll hand ya over to the Make article for the details:

Amit Zoran’s Chameleon guitar uses replaceable soundboards built from various types of wood and other materials to take on different sonic characteristics –

The five electronic pickups on the soundboard provide detailed information about the wood’s acoustic response to the vibration of the strings. This information is then processed by the computer to simulate different shapes and sizes of the resonating chamber. “The original signal is not synthetic, it’s acoustic,” Zoran says. “Then we can simulate different shapes, or a bigger instrument.” The guitar can even be made to simulate shapes that would be impossible to build physically. “We can make a guitar the size of a mountain,” he says. Or the size of a mouse.

Because the actual soundboard is small and inexpensive, compared to the larger size and intricate craftsmanship required to build a whole acoustic instrument, it will allow for a lot of freedom to experiment, he says. “It’s small, it’s cheap, you can take risks,” he says. For example, he has a piece of spruce from an old bridge in Vermont, more than 150 years old, that he plans to use to make another soundboard. The wooden beam is too narrow to use to make a whole guitar, but big enough to try out for the Chameleon Guitar.

The Chameleon seems to offer a unique shortcut for guitarists searching for their signature tone. It’ll be interesting to hear how well the onboard digital processing handles scaling those sounds. Read more on the instrument’s development at MIT News.

Photos © / Webb Chappell Photography 2009

REVIEW: G&L L-2500 5 string bass

The G&L story is quite a familiar one by now. Leo Fender and George Fullerton formed the company in 1980 to carry on the work begun in the 40s by Leo’s former, somewhat successful guitar company. Along the way they created such classic instruments as the Legacy and ASAT, as well as the Rampage model favoured by Alice In Chains’ Jerry Cantrell.

Leo Fender invented the electric bass at Fender, so you would expect any such instrument from either of his namesake companies to be something pretty special. So how does the L-2500 stack up?

SPEC CHECK
The L-2500 is a 5-string bass which mates a swamp ash top to an American tilia back, with a bolt-on maple neck and rosewood or maple fretboard. The frets are a little smaller that I would expect in width, and also in height, but it all adds up for playing comfort and helps to offset any learning curve associated with the soft vintage V-shaped neck profile.

The test bass was finished is a gorgeous honey colour that’s practically edible, but it’s available in a range of finishes. Tuning keys are G&L’s Ultra-Lite design, and they are very solid in both operation and stability. The bridge is G&L’s innovating saddle lock design, with brass saddles for extra tonal punch. Electronics are a pair of G&L humbuckers which feed an active/passive preamp system consisting of 3 pots and 3 mini toggle switches.

CLEAN UP IN AISLE 3
Okay, now that the specs are out of the way… this is one heck of a bass. It feels like it’s a living, breathing thing, and notes sustain practically for days. The natural unplugged tone is good enough and full enough that it you were able to mic it up adequately, it could sit perfectly well within a pro mix – and it only gets better once you plug it in.

In terms of attack the L-2500 responds equally well to pick or fingers, and rolling back the treble makes way for a powerful, resonant John Paul Jones sound. The preamp system includes a 3 way toggle for pickup selection, another for series or parallel operation, and yet another to turn the preamp off, on, or on with a high end EQ boost. It might sound complicated but the only tricky thing about it is figuring out which sound to use, since they’re all great. With the flick of a switch you can go from a meat-and-potatoes rock sound to a hi-fi studio funk sound and back again. It’s exhilarating to have such versatility in a single instrument, and while other companies might try to pack a variety of sounds like this into their basses, what makes the L-2500 special is that each of its voices sounds good enough and ‘real’ enough that each could stand on their own if it was the only sound offered by the bass.

GIMMIEGIMMIEGIMMIE
I would be quite comfortable – in fact ecstatic – to add a bass like this to my recording arsenel and I’m a little sad to have to give it back after the review. The perfect playability means there’s nothing to get in the way of playing exactly what you hear in your head, while the huge range of tones means you can summon any sound you need with a minimum of fuss.

CLICK HERE to buy the G&L L-2500 5-String Bass Guitar Natural Gloss Rosewood from Music123 for $1,575.

PICKUPS: 2 G&L Magnetic Field humbucking pickups
BODY WOOD: Swamp Ash top on American Tilia back
NECK WOOD: Hard Rock Maple with Rosewood or Maple fingerboard
NECK RADIUS: 12″ (304.8mm)
NECK WIDTH AT NUT: 1 3/4″ (44.5mm)
TUNING KEYS: Custom G&L “Ultra-Lite” with aluminum tapered string posts
BRIDGE: G&L Saddle Lock with string through body configuration; chrome-plated brass saddles
CONTROLS: G&L Tri-Tone active/passive electronics, 3-way mini-toggle pickup selector, series/parallel mini-toggle, preamp control mini-toggle (off/on/on with high end EQ boost)
FINISH: Standard finishes included
OTHER: Chrome hardware; no pickguard; G&L molded hardcase included

NEWS: News for March 17, 2009

Happy St Patrick’s day!

Zakk Wylde continues work on new Ozzy CD.

Zakk Wylde has told Live Daily that he’ll return to the studio to finish tracking Ozzy’s next album in April, after he returns from the current Black Label Society tour.

We started working on it already,” Zakk said. “When we got off the road, everybody went home and decompressed a little bit – we did, like, 16 months or something like that on the road – and went home.”

Ozzy, Black Label Society and a yet-to-be-disclosed third band are planning an early 2010 tour.

Source: Live Daily.

More Download acts announced

Down, Lacuna Coil, Chris Cornell and Journey are among the latest bands to be confirmed for the Download festival at Donington Park, United Kingdom, June 12-14. Here’s the line-up so far. Since this is my blog and I can do what I like, I’ve bolded the ones that I’d be most psyched to see if I was able to go.

Anvil
Architects
Billy Talent
Black Stone Cherry
Buckcherry
Chris Cornell
Clutch
Def Leppard
Devildriver
Down
Dragonforce
Dream Theater
Faith No More
Journey
Karma To Burn
Killswitch Engage
Korn
Lacuna Coil

Limp Bizkit
Marilyn Manson
Mötley Crüe

Papa Roach
Parkway Drive
Pendulum
Skin
Slipknot
Tesla

The Blackout
The Prodigy
Trivium
Whitesnake
ZZ Top

Source: Blabbermouth.net

David Ellefson launches video series

Former Megadeth bass player David Ellefson, who wrote the book Making Music Your Business as well as two metal bass instructional DVDs, Metal Bass Level 1 (DVD) and , has launched his own YouTube video series, David Ellefson’s Rock Shop. Ellefson says, “I’m always asked questions from fans and other musicians about playing the bass, the business side of our industry, and music in general. “So, I decided to create these regular video webisodes as a way to inform and respond to many of those questions.”

Ellefson says, “I’m always asked questions from fans and other musicians about playing the bass, the business side of our industry, and music in general. “So, I decided to create these regular video webisodes as a way to inform and respond to many of those questions.”

Source: YouTube.

Undercover takes on the music media’s love of downloads

Here’s an interesting article from Undercover.com.au comparing download sales verses CD sales here in Australia. The figures are probably a little different in less technophobic areas of the world, but at least here in the land of Young Einstein, Olivia Newton John and yellin’ “CRIKEY!” at stuff, CD sales are outstripping downloads 9 to 1.

Source: Undercover.com.au

LESSON: 5 Singers You Should Totally Steal From

One of the coolest techniques for expanding your guitar style is to copy other instruments – this is why you’ll sometimes find articles on I Heart Guitar about keyboard players, f’rinstance – but there’s probably no more expressive instrument than the human voice. When I was in high school one of my favourite things in the world was to chuck my bag in the corner, crank up my amp and play along with the vocal melody to David Bowie’s ‘A Small Plot Of Land’ from his ‘1.Outside’ album. It’s a pretty obscure track and you’ll probably have to dig pretty deep into iTunes to find it, but it’s well worth it, not only for Bowie’s killer phrasing and some very atmospheric Brian Eno production, but also for Reeves Gabrels’s really out-there guitar playing.

However I think the reason I became so entranced with this particular song as a guitar exercise was because the vocal melody included a lot of sustained notes, as well as a few small phrases with quieter dynamics than the rest, and a few notes that sort of drifted over the bar lines and behind the beat. It taught me a lot about leaving space in a melody, and about applying progressively wide vibrato over the course of a note, instead of the same level of vibrato over the whole thing.

CLICK HERE to buy the David Bowie Box from Amazon.com, including 1.Outside, Earthling, Hours, Heathen, and Reality plus bonus discs for each album.

So with this in mind, here’s a countdown of five other songs that I’ve found are good for copying vocal phrasing:

5. Black Sabbath – Changes.

Ozzy’s phrasing is relatively straightforward and is a good starting point for this technique. He tends to stick quite faithfully to the pulse of the song rather than messing about with the rhythm too much, and a lot of his melodies seem to be based on pentatonic scales. In Changes, there’s a lot of space between each phrase, and there are a few notes that he slides, which you can choose to mimic either by sliding from fret to fret or by bending.

CLICK HERE to buy the Black Box: The Complete Original Black Sabbath 1970-1978 box set from Amazon.com.

4. Led Zeppelin – We’re Gonna Groove.

This is a good one for trying to get underneath some very staccato rhythms. Plant tends to hold the same note for a steady stream of words at a few points in this song, and it’s a challenge to use different pick attack, vibrato and slide techniques on guitar to make up for the fact that you’re playing the same note over and over again. A vocalist can get away with this a lot easier because they can change the word, but a guitarist has to be a little more resourceful.

CLICK HERE to buy the Led Zeppelin – Complete Studio Recordings box set from Amazon.com.

3. Alanis Morrissette – You Oughta Know.

I know, I know, this might seem like an odd choice, but y’know that thing Alanis used to do (she seemed to grow out of it after a few years) where she would finish a line and her voice would kind of jump to a high (and sometimes out of key) note? This can translate quite well to guitar, especially if you use it to go to a note that’s actually in the key of the song. You can use various techniques to hit these extra notes: harmonics, tapping, or, under the right circumstances, feedback. Find a spot near your amp where you get the same feedback note whenever you take your hands off the guitar, and soon you’ll be able to conjure that note at will.

CLICK HERE to buy Alanis Morissette’s Jagged Little Pill from Amazon.com.

2. Living Colour – Ignorance Is Bliss.

While the melody itself isn’t particularly crazy, this one is a little more out-there in terms of phrasing, with Corey Glover often holding a note until the last possible beat before dropping down to another note for the next syllable. There are also some very tricky vocal slides which translate really well to bends. You’ll also have to tackle the same “What the hell do I do when the vocalist sings different words using the same note?” issue as ‘We’re Gonna Groove’ in the ‘Ignorance is no excuse’ section.

CLICK HERE to buy Living Colour’s Stain from Amazon.com.

1. Devin Townsend Band – Storm.

Devin’s metal screams and growls are some of the best in the biz, but his melodic singing is particularly amazing. This song features some great phrasing where he finishes each line with a note which slides down while he also applies vibrato. This technique is very tricky but for those with whammy bar-equipped guitars there are two ways to accomplish it: either apply the vibrato with your fretting hand and drop the pitch with the whammy bar, or slide the note down the neck with your fretting hand while using the bar to achieve the vibrato. Devin ends the song with an octave-higher, slightly on the edge restatement of the verse melody, and it’s here that the sheer range and emotion of his voice is in full flight. Check out the bit from 3:40 to 3:50. It’s extremely difficult to copy on guitar, as he slides from one note to another, and then to another, all on the same word, but such full-on pitch manipulation is very rewarding when you get it right, and these skills can then be applied to your own material.

CLICK HERE to buy the Devin Townsend Band’s Accelerated Evolution from Amazon.com.