Take Your Pick: Wacky Guitar Pick Substitutes

Here’s my latest feature for Gibson.com…

Take Your Pick: Wacky Guitar Pick Substitutes

Guitarists typically fall into one of two categories: pick or fingers. Oh sure, occasionally players from one camp will dabble in the other, or they might combine both options into one hybrid picking style, or maybe they’ll use both hands on the neck at the same time, Stanley Jordan-style. But as far as guitar goes, pick or fingers are really your only two choices when it comes to sounding the note on the guitar.

Or are they?

Some innovative players have been known to jettison both pick and fingers (well maybe not fingers – ouch!) in favor of less conventional methods of note generation. Perhaps the most famous is Jimmy Page’s use of the cello bow. Page may not have been the first to take horsehair to nickel, and he definitely wasn’t the last, but he was certainly the most iconic. Page’s use of the bow can be heard most notably on “Dazed and Confused,” where it lends an eerie, mournful tone to the already morose descending melody.

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REVIEW: Marshall JMD:1

Marshall’s JMP-1 preamp was a classic little unit. Packing real valve tone into a single rack space unit with MIDI programmability, it was often paired with a Marshall EL34-based rack mounted power amp (and sometimes even Marshall’s JFX-1 rack mounted effects processor) into a formidable rig of doom. Racks eventually fell out of favour in deference to combos and heads, but Marshall’s new JMD:1 is intended as the logical successor of the JMP-1, this time available in head and combo versions.
The key to the JMD:1’s tone is its digital preamp, designed in partnership with Sweden’s Softube (if you’re anti-digital you should know it’s paired to a Marshall EL34 power amp). There are 16 different models here, painstakingly modelled on actual Marshall amp rigs. Left to right, the head’s controls are master volume and presence; reverb; delay level and delay adjust; modulation depth and modulation adjust; volume, treble, middle, bass and gain; then the 16-position pre-amp selector pot.

Below this array of knobs are several buttons: manual; channels 1, 2, 3 and 4; modulation; delay/tap tempo; external FX; compare; and footswitch/MIDI program. You can store unique sounds if you use just the amp itself, bump that up to 28 by using 6-button the footswitch, or 128 if you’re using a MIDI setup. If you’re playing in a band that uses a sequencer live, you could conceivably program the sequencer to do all your preset-changing. Cool! Delay has four modes: hi fi, analog, tape and multi, and cycling the knob through the range of each setting changes the rhythm of the repeats in multiples of the tempo (as set by the tap tempo control). Similarly, aside from the noise gate setting which relies solely on the mod depth control, the mod adjust control ups the speed of either chorus, phaser, flanger or tremolo.

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Steve Vai to Receive Les Paul Award at 27th Annual TEC Awards

Here’s a very cool accolade for guitar legend (and my jam buddy, hehe) Steve Vai…

Steve Vai to Receive Les Paul Award at 27th Annual TEC Awards

A student of Joe Satriani at age twelve, Steve Vai began his professional music career working with Frank Zappa, with whom he toured and recorded before launching his solo career. Since his groundbreaking album Passion and Warfare, released in 1990, the brilliance of his musicianship has awed more than just rock fans and has stunned concertgoers worldwide, producing sales of over 15 million records and earning multiple Grammys.Walnut Creek, Calif. , November 7, 2011—Guitar virtuoso, composer and producer Steve Vai will be presented with theprestigious Les Paul Award at the 27th Annual Technical Excellence & Creativity Awards, to be held Friday, January 20, in the Pacific Ballroom of the Hilton Anaheim during the 2012 NAMM Show. Co-presented by the TEC Foundation for Excellence in Audio and NAMM, the TEC Awards recognizes outstanding achievement in professional audio production and product design.