Monthly Archives: July 2011

Check out Richie Kotzen’s old Ibanezes

Here’s a very neat video from 2003 in which Richie Kotzen breaks out a few of his old Ibanezes from his pre-Fender days. He also shows off some of his signature model Fender Telecasters, which are super-high on my guitar wish list. I believe his signature model Strats and Telecasters are only available in Asia but I’d love love love to see them released by Fender Australia some day. Richie’s sound was a big reason why I traded my Ibanez Jem for a Fender American Vintage ’62 Strat last year.

Anyway, onto the video.

My interview with Tony Martin

The Black Sabbath albums featuring Tony Martin on vocals are some of my favourites – especially Cross Purposes and Eternal Idol. Martin is more than one of the coolest voices in metal – he’s also a talented multi-instrumentalist and lyricist. I recently interviewed him for Gibson.com and you can read it here. Here’s a snippet.

How did you develop your multi-instrumentalism? Did you have formal training or is it more organic for you?

Well I started playing things when I was five years old. I had my first guitar when I was seven, which I still own! It’s an acoustic guitar that is completely warped and the action is about half an inch! But I got sounds out of it and I kept exploring with other things – electronic projects and taking things apart and rebuilding them. The most famous of my musical explorations was harmonizing with my mother’s Hoover! I learned a lot about note interaction just by using the constant drone note from the vacuum. Also I had an AKAI 1721 reel-to-reel machine and I wanted to multi-track record stuff. I figured out that if I unsoldered the wires off the erase head, I could get it to record over a previous take. It of course faded the more times I recorded over it, but it was another step in exploring stuff. It hasn’t stopped to this day. I still explore with samples and sounds and electronic stuff. Guitars are my main instrument. If I want to write, I always pick up the guitar first. My original first pride was a Gibson 335 semi, which I am gutted to say I sold for £2 sterling when I was 14. Clearly had no idea what I was holding! And I also destroyed a Reslo ribbon microphone – a genuine 1940s-ish one – in the interest of exploring the inner workings… I don’t think I want to reveal anything else or I might slash my wrists!

RIP Kieran O’Reilly from Catwitch

I’m sad to hear of the passing of Catwitch singer Kieran O’Reilly due to cancer. Catwitch played a benefit gig for him on July 23, although Kieran was too ill to attend.

I used to catch Catwitch gigs a lot around town back in my goth days, and Kieran was unmistakable if you happened to see him in the audience at a gig. Dude had vampire fangs long before it was cool.

Catwitch were always a killer live band and it’s hard to find a video that does them justice, but “Burn” comes pretty close.

Denny Laine’s Guitar Book

Back when I was a little’un, we’re talking 8 or 9 years old, I was already way into guitar. I’d see guitars in music videos and totally bug out over them. My favourites were Rickenbackers, Gretsches, Guilds, Gibsons – anything with F-holes and shiny metal-covered pickups. Anyway, one day in the school library I happened across Denny Laine’s Guitar Book. At the time he wrote it (1979), Laine was a member of Wings with one Mr Paul McCartney.

I was obsessed with this book. I used to take it home all the time, pour through its contents, work through its lessons, and gaze at the guitar photos. There’s some really great stuff in there – tips on gear for beginners, lists of great players, a tour of Laine’s guitar collection, an interview with luthier Dick Knight, a tour of the production stages at the Gibson guitar factory… one page carries black and white pictures of a whopping five different types of Les Paul (Standard Natural, Artisan, Pro Deluxe, 55, Standard Cherry Sunburst). It blew my mind at the time that there could be five kinds of Gibson Les Paul (even though two of them were Standards).

Then there’s the lesson section – tips on tuning, chords, inversions, scales, strumming patterns – so much cool info. I hadn’t started taking lessons yet (although my Auntie Barbi had shown me a few chords – she’s a folkie and used to serenade me with “Banks Of The Ohio” whenever she’d come over), and I didn’t quite understand what tuning was, but even so, this book was hugely influential for me, and I continued to borrow it from the library even when I’d started taking guitar lessons with a great teacher named Peter Cominos.

I guess you could say that the way Laine covers a wide range of guitar topics from both personal and informational perspectives, sometimes within the same article, makes him the first guitar blogger – just in print instead of online.

This book is long out of print but I managed to track down a copy on Amazon.com. If you’re a music book collector like me, it’s well worth it. Aside from having lots of great information that’s still relevant today, it’s also a snapshot of a different time in guitar, before you could just go online to find answers to questions like “How do I amplify an acoustic guitar?” or “What’s an octave divider?” or “How often should I change strings?”

Denny Laine’s Guitar Book on Amazon.com

Metallica marks 30 years with $6 concerts!

From metallica.com:

“Thirty years of Metallica… can you believe it? We think it’s cause for a major celebration!

“You’ve been asking for a while now, ‘Just what the hell are you going to do to mark 30 years as a band?’ closely followed by, ‘Why don’t we have more exclusive shows for fan-club members?’

“We’ve heard you loud and clear and are beyond psyched to announce that the week of December 5, 2011 will be a full-on Metallica week in the Bay Area, more specifically we will be playing four shows for Met Club members only at the historic Fillmore in San Francisco on December 5, 7, 9, and 10 to celebrate our 30th anniversary. These unique shows will include special guests and events, rare songs, varied set lists, odds and ends, and all the nutty stuff you expect from Metallica… fun for the entire family!

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Check out a trippy new Opeth track!

Stereogum is offering a stream of the new Opeth track “The Devil’s Orchard” right now, from Opeth’s forthcoming album Heritage. Go check it out! It’s like Mahavishu Orchestra meets … well… Mahavishnu Orchestra!

I recently interviewed Opeth’s Mikael Åkerfeldt about the album – look for the interview here soon!

Classic Rock to release Chickenfoot III fan pack

Wow, those fine folks at Classic Rock Magazine have done it again! After killer fan packs for Motorhead and Whitesnake, check this out from the Classic Rock website:

Classic Rock is cock-a-hoop to announce the launch of its latest Fan Pack, dedicated to Chickenfoot.

The Chickenfoot Fan Pack includes Chickenfoot III, the band’s eagerly anticipated second album, plus a 132-page magazine dedicated to the band.

Pre-order the Chickenfoot fanpack through MyFavouriteMagazines.co.uk before September 27 and receive a free very limited edition Chickenfoot bottle opener keyring.

Inside the Chickenfoot Fan Pack:

Fans who buy the Chickenfoot Fan Pack will be able to hear Chickenfoot III weeks before it appears in record stores. What’s more, the Fan Pack version of Chickenfoot III comes with two exclusive bonus tracks that won’t appear on the record store version of the album.

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So it turns out ProTools 8 might run on Lion

You may remember this post from a few days about about Pro Tools 9’s incompatibility with Apple OSX Lion at this time. (For a refresher, According to Avid, “As of this writing Pro Tools 9 and all earlier versions of Pro Tools software are not compatible and will not work with OS X Lion.”

Well here’s a piece of good potentially good news for at least some of us: it turns out Pro Tools 8.0.3 works fine on my 2007 Intel iMac running Lion. I can’t vouch for other systems, but if you happen to be a ProTools 8 user and you’ve already installed Lion and found ProTools 9 doesn’t work, maybe it’s worth installing ProTools 8 again to see if it’ll work on your system.

I guess my next move is to install Lion and ProTools 8 on my 2010 Macbook Pro to see if they will play nicely together. If not, I guess I’ll be doing all my recording on my iMac for a while.


NEWS: Aerosmith, Pearl Jam/Soundgarden, Disturbed, KISS, Uriah Heep

Epiphone Les Paul PlusTop PRO/FX – click the pic for more info or read my review here.

Here are my latest news stories for Gibson.com. Enjoy!

Aerosmith Continue Work on ‘Old School’ Album

Pearl Jam Guitarist Jams with Soundgarden (with Video)

Disturbed Singer Announces Indefinite Hiatus

New KISS Album Sounds Bigger than a Sonic Boom

Uriah Heep to Release Armenian Show

The Bangles to release Sweetheart Of The Sun

The Bangles always played some of the coolest guitars in rock. Plus Susannah Hoffs was my first crush.




On their forthcoming album, SWEETHEART OF THE SUN, THE BANGLES capture the two crucial elements that created the bond that formed the group: their common love for rock’s golden age and the crystalline sound they quite naturally created.

SWEETHEART OF THE SUN (Model Music Group), the group’s first album of new material in nearly eight years, is filled with a fresh batch of definitive BANGLES songs. Due out September 13, SWEETHEART OF THE SUN reveals THE BANGLES–guitarist/singer Susanna Hoffs, guitarist/singer Vicki Peterson and drummer/singer Debbi Peterson–at their equally beguiling extremes, as soaring folk-rock harmonies coexist with adrenalized rave-ups inspired by the band’s roots in Nuggets-era garage rock.

“As we were finishing the record,” says Vicki, “we started to realize there was a unifying theme–paradise lost in Southern California, the perception juxtaposed with the reality of it.” Susanna picks up the thought: “L.A. is like paradise–the sun shines 360 days a year, the flowers are always in bloom–but meanwhile, so many people are walking around alienated, depressed and anxious.”

Some of the 10 original songs on this 12-song album are new, while others had extremely long gestation periods, tucked away, but not forgotten, as Susanna puts it. The oldest, dating back to the early ’90s, is Debbi’s high-revving aggro kiss-off “Ball N Chain”; while the three of them jointly came up with the newest song, the shimmering opening track “Anna Lee (Sweetheart of the Sun),” during the recording sessions.

“I think it’s important for all of us to keep moving on and creating,” says Debbi. “Because that’s why we got into this in the first place.”

SWEETHEART OF THE SUN was recorded by Matthew Sweet (Susanna’s frequent collaborator) at his home studio in the Hollywood Hills, with much of the overdubbing done at the home studios of Vicki and Susanna, and mixed by Jim Scott (Tom Petty, Wilco). THE BANGLES cut the album with bassist Derrick Anderson and keyboard player Greg “Harpo” Hilfman, both of whom have been playing with the band for some time. String wizard Greg Leisz, one of the most in-demand players in contemporary music (Robert Plant & Alison Krauss, Matthew Sweet, Lucinda Williams, Bon Iver) adds pedal steel, lap steel and mandolin to a number of tracks.

Thirty years ago guitarists Susanna Hoffs and Vicki Peterson and drummer Debbi Peterson formed THE BANGLES in a Brentwood, California, garage. Their 1984 debut All Over the Place captured the group’s inventive incorporation of ’60s folk rock, sunny SoCal harmonies and Beatles/Byrds/Beach Boys/Big Star godhead. Throughout the 80s, the group went on to dominate the charts with hits like “Walk Like An Egyptian,” “Eternal Flame,” “Manic Monday” and “A Hazy Shade of Winter” before they disbanded in the late 80s. They officially reformed in 1999 to record “Get The Girl” for the soundtrack of Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me.

The complete track list for SWEETHEART OF THE SUN is as follows:

Annalee (Sweetheart Of The Sun)
Lay Yourself Down
Under A Cloud
I Will Never Be Through With You
Through Your Eyes
Ball & Chain
One Of Two
What A Life
Circles In The Sky
Sweet And Tender Romance
Open My Eyes

REVIEW: Randall NB King 100 Nuno Bettencourt signature amp

Nuno Bettencourt has always had an ear for punchy, listenable distortion tones. Check out his sound on the Dramagods album Love, or Extreme’s latest, Saudades De Rock, for great examples. Nuno’s standard combination of bare-wood guitars and high output pickups means his amps need to be able to handle the kind of ultra-fine tonal detail that such features demand. and after years of collaboration, Nuno and Randall have introduced the NB King 100.

The NB King 100’s styling is unmistakable: it simply looks unlike any other amp in the world. For starters, all of the controls are over on the right hand side (the left features a badge of the logo for Nuno’s post-Extreme band Mourning Widows – and dude, you really have to check out their two albums), and the control panel is dominated by a seriously oversized volume knob and a VU meter. The design scheme is mirrored on the matching speaker cabinet. The matching NB412 speaker cabinet includes four 12″ Celestion Greenback 30s and is made from 3/4″ void-free birch plywood. It’s also freaking heavy.

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The Aristocrats launch Facebook page

The Aristocrats – the new rock/fusion instrumental trio featuring Bryan Beller, Guthrie Govan and Marco Minnemann – have just launched a Facebook page here. Go check it out and spread the word! Oh and I Heart Guitar is on Facebook too.

Merchant City Music

Peter Hodgson Hi! I'm Peter Hodgson. I write for Gibson.com, Australian Guitar, Australian Musician, Mixdown Magazine (including my instructional column, 'Unleash Your Inner Rock God,' which has been running since 2007), BluntBeat (including their weekly hard rock/metal column Crunch) and The Brag. And I'm Assistant Social Coordinator with Seymour Duncan. I've been playing guitar since I was 8 years old, and I've been writing for magazines since I was 18. I've also worked as a guitar teacher (up to 50 students a week), a setup tech, a newspaper editor, and I've also dabbled in radio a little bit. I live in Melbourne, Australia, and my hobbies include drinking way too much coffee, and eating way too much Mexican food. You can check out my guitar playing at Bandcamp or on YouTube, and feel free to email me at iheartguitarblog@gmail.com If you'd like to support the site, feel free to kick in a couple o'bucks using this donation button.

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