Here’s a track I recorded using just the Seymour Duncan SSL-5 single coil for 7-string in my Ibanez UV777BK Universe. The SSL-5 is a high output true single-coil for warm instruments, with Alnico 5 rods and a DC Resistance of 12.9k. Though it looks like the SSL-1 and has that distinct vintage tone, the SSL-5’s over-wound coil yields higher output, more sustain and great harmonics. The result is a pickup that rocks hard and cuts through the mix, but cleans up nicely when you back off the volume. The other pickups in this guitar are my Custom Shop Magnetar and a Production Floor Custom Sentient with white logo and glossy bobbins, but I don’t use those at all in this track: everything you hear is SSL-5.
Veruca Salt were an anomaly when they hit it big in the mid 90s. Louise Post and Nina Gordon created a wall-of-guitars sound upon which to hang their intricate harmonies and hooky-yet-edgy songwriting – and when you step back and think about it, Louise was one of the few guitarists to get solos on the radio consistently throughout the 90s. The partnership of Louise and Nina ended in the 90s but now the whole gang is back together and touring, and they’ve released two new songs – “The Museum of Broken Relationships” and “It’s Holy” – to show us where they’re at before a full album is released in the near future. I spoke to Louise on the eve of the band’s Australian tour. Continue reading
I know that for me one of my biggest challenges when making music at home on the computer is trying to get my drum tracks to sound lifelike. I hate that overly mechanical, ultra-quantised, every-hit-sounds-the-same MIDI drum sound that’s all over the place. I agonise over drawing in my own drum parts one note at a time in the MIDI window. Lately I’ve been using IK Multimedia’s iRig Keys to do it instead, which introduces an extra layer of realism (typically I’ll do one pass for the kick and snare and another for the cymbals). But now IK Multimedia has announced something that will make this process more intuitive and performance-oriented than my awkward keyboard-tapping: iRig Pads! There are jillions of things you can program this thing to do but I know that for me it’s exactly what I want to get more lifelike drum performances onto my tracks. It works with your iOS device or computer. Here’s the press release: Continue reading
I don’t think I could ever overstate just how much Living Colour has helped to shape my musical development. They showed me you could explore all sorts of different styles while anchoring everything in rock, whether it’s funk, jazz, metal or avant garde. They show us that you can be a world-class practitioner of your instrument of choice but you can do it with soul, feeling, energy and humour. And they’re some of the nicest dudes you’ll ever meet.
Oh and they’re a stunning live band. You can witness this for yourself by tuning in on Wednesday October 1 to see Living Colour live on Yahoo Screen Live from The Independent in San Francisco! The link is right here where you will see a countdown to the event. (For me here in Melbourne the time will be October 2nd, 2014, 2:30 pm Australian Eastern Standard Time). There’s a ‘Remind Me’ button on that link to send you a message by text message (USA numbers only) or email right before the show is about to start, so whatever time zone you’re in, you have no excuse! And after the concert streams live, the show will loop for 24 hours ,so if you can’t catch the performance the first time around, you’ll still be able to go back and experience it. You can see the current 30-day lineup of other shows here. There have been plenty of killer shows recently including Bob Mould, Kenny Wayne Shepherd, The Offspring, Yes, Buckcherry and the mighty KISS, so I’m excited to see what other stuff is on the horizon.
For more on Living Colour, here’s my interview with Vernon Reid back when the band was about to play at the Soundwave festival in February 2014.
PRESS RELEASE: After months of R&D and serious road testing by the man himself, Jake E Lee (current Red Dragon Cartel and former Ozzy Osbourne and Badlands guitarist), Majik Box is proud to begin shipping the new Body Blow Jake E Lee Mod overdrive. Never truly happy with any overdrive pedal in his arsenal, Jake and his guitar tech Scott Bell asked Majik Box to modify the company’s Body Blow overdrive to his exacting specs. The key idea behind this mod was to give the Body Blow more “bark and grunt” for his solos. And although the standard Body Blow has a significant amount of mid-range in its tonal palette, he was looking for a EQ modification to the pedal that would take his usual Charvel Strat bridge humbucker into a low-mid-range focused, P-90 pickup territory, in addition to adding a nice dollop of gain. Continue reading
This gets a bit tricky, so bare with me. Originally there was Music Man, a company co-founded by Leo Fender which made instruments and amplifiers. One of their developments was the StingRay bass, which Sterling Ball helped to design. This company was eventually sold to Ernie Ball. In the noughties, Certain Ernie Ball Music Man designs were the basis for a budget line called OLP (which quite blandly stood for Official Licensed Product). They were great budget instruments but eventually that came to an end. Then there was (and is) Sterling By Music Man, which offers mid-priced (and brilliant) instruments based on classic MM designs. Now there’s SUB by Sterling by Music Man to cater to the budget end of the market again. These instruments were released at NAMM a couple of years ago and they feature several classic Music Man designs, one of which is the StingRay, in the form of the Ray4 four-string and Ray5 five-string. Continue reading
YES! It’s been far too long since I’ve seen the mighty Yngwie J. Malmsteen onstage. After visiting this year for a guitar masterclass for Thump Music (whose next tour is Devin Townsend), Yngwie is returning to Australia and New Zealand in February 2015 to slay us all with his otherworldly talents. And there are VIP tickets available granting access to an exclusive Q&A session. I’ve had the pleasure of interviewing Yngwie and he was intelligent, informative and freaking hilarious. If you’ve read his interviews in print you’re missing a lot of the context and humour in his voice and mannerisms, something you can only pick up by talking to the guy, so this is a great chance for a lucky few to do that.
Here’s the press release:
Whoa! Mesa/Boogie is just smashing it lately. First there was the Cab Clone guitar speaker cabinet emulator that I raved about a few months ago and still find myself coveting on a daily basis. And now there’s… this! The Mesa Boogie Mark Five: 25, combining elements of some of Mesa Boogie’s greatest amps, switchable 10/25 watt power, inbuilt Cab Clone, 5-band EQ… in short it’s got everything you want from a Mesa/Boogie and more, plus it’s tiny and adorable.
Have a listen to it in this video: Continue reading
If I have one criticism of the EVH Wolfgang, it’s that, well… they’re infuriatingly priced at what they’re worth! They’re great guitars with killer tone and playability. And they look cool. But they justifiably cost a pretty penny, especially if you want the USA stuff. But now the Wolfgang Special series has been revamped as a made-in-Mexico model (it was previously made in Japan and then China, if I recall correctly), and a new more affordable line called Wolfgang Standard has just been introduced too. And of course you’ll still be able to get the USA stuff as well if your budget stretches that far. Here’s the press release…
PRESS RELEASE: EVH is pleased to announce the launch of the Wolfgang Standard series and revamping of its popular Wolfgang Special series, offering all the quality players expect from EVH plus features not usually found on guitars at these price points. Continue reading
If you want to add a little of Dream Theater guitarist John Petrucci’s sonic mojo to your tone – a rather worthy goal, if you ask me – you could do a lot worse than to check out Petrucci’s line of signature guitars through Ernie Ball Music Man. They occupy a unique niche among shred-friendly guitars because their construction feels much more “serious-persons’ guitar” than the average shred plank. But Music Man guitars come with a price tag that reflects their quality. i.e.: they’re pretty dang pricey. So with the Sterling By Music Man line, the company has endeavoured to bring more affordable versions of some of their designs to players who might not have the financial wherewithal to walk home with the California-made stuff. The JP70D is based on Petrucci’s first Music Man model (there are a few other shapes now including the JPX and Majesty), and it’s made in Indonesia. Continue reading
There are some albums that you just get straight away because they reveal everything about themselves right upfront. Devin Townsend’s albums have never been like that. There’s too much going on on a whole bunch of levels: emotionally, conceptually, orchestrationally, texturally. And there’s a lot to digest with Z2. It’s made up of two very different albums, Sky Blue and Dark Matters. Sky Blue is the Devin Townsend Project, and Dark Matters is the sequel to 2007’s sci-fi metal opus Ziltoid The Omniscient. And some tracks feature the vocals of thousands of fans, invited to participate online in what has been named the Universal Choir.
Sky Blue Continue reading