Okay, so you’ve surely heard by now that Van Halen will release their first ever live album to feature David Lee Roth. There was, of course, Live: Right Here, Right Now back in the 90s, and I wore that damn thing out on VHS and cassette. This new album, Tokyo Dome Live In Concert, is only being released as audio, but here’s what’s super-cool about this one compared to Live: Right Here, Right Now: the band has gone for a warts-and-all approach with no vocal touch-ups, whereas Sammy Hagar revealed in his autobiography that the band very heavily re-recorded that first record. Kudos to the mighty VH for keeping it authentic. Continue reading
For the last few days I’ve been reading about Dean Zelinsky’s new Sidekick pickup. Zelinsky says “The SideKick Pickup is the World’s first pickup that is a true Humbucker and switches to an authentic Single-Coil – all in a single pickup. With SideKick technology, switching from humbucker to single-coil, the pickups actually match volume. There is virtually no volume drop-off as in conventional Humbucker coil-tapping or splitting.”
That sounds like a killer idea, and I’m looking forward to hearing some clips of it in action. My only issue is that this isn’t a new idea, so the claim that it’s the world’s first true humbucker that switches to an authentic single coil sound isn’t quite accurate. I really don’t want to create the impression that I’m talking down the idea – it could be a totally kickass pickup and I’m all for people improving their tone – but this isn’t the first to make this claim, and I’m kind of a nerd for this type of trivia. Any four-conductor pickup can be split into single coil mode and that’s common knowledge so that’s not my issue, but there have been plenty that have been designed with specific technology for the single coil mode to sound authentic (and usually to have a consistent volume level too). For instance…
Seymour Duncan Stag Mag
Traditional humbuckers are designed with a bar magnet underneath two coils; the pole pieces themselves aren’t the magnet that specifically creates the magnetic field (although they do focus it). Single coils have six magnetic slugs instead, going up through the coils. The Stag Mag is built like two traditional single coils side-by-side, so when you turn one coil off you have a truly traditional single coil sound. Sure, there’s a volume drop compared to humbucker mode when you switch to single coil, but that’s true of picking up a single coil guitar after plugging in a humbucker too.
Seymour Duncan Custom Shop
The Seymour Duncan Custom Shop has been making pickups on request for years that can be wired so that when you switch to single coil mode, the remaining coil has extra turns of wire added to it (sort of the reverse of ‘tapping’ a single coil pickup), thereby bringing the volume and power of that coil up to a consistent level with the humbucking mode’s output. And because they’re Custom Shop you can order ‘em however you like.
Introduced in 2011, Paul Reed Smith’s 408 pickups also maintain an even volume when switching from humbucker to single coil mode. I reviewed this system back in May 2013 in a Paul Reed Smith Signature Limited guitar.
Listen to the 408 pickups in action here:
Ibanez’s True-Duo pickup uses one coil that has six Alnico V magnets in a hum-cancelling stack design, and one coil that has a Ferrite magnet underneath in a similar manner to a humbucker. When you combine the two, the bottom hum-cancelling coil of the Alnico V side is turned off and you get a regular humbucker sound. Split the pickup and you’re left with just the Alnico V slug pickup with the hum-cancelling coil engaged too for noiseless single coil tones.
Those are just the ones off the top of my head. I wouldn’t be surprised if there are more out there. Bottom line: really happy for Zelinsky to be excited about his new pickup (and his Z Glide neck seem like a really cool idea) but my inner guitar geek can’t just let this claim that this is the only pickup like this go out there unaddressed.
One of my favourite recent albums is Marilyn Manson’s The Pale Emperor (and you can read my review of it in Beat magazine here). Manson seems to have been creatively reinvigorated by new collaborator Tyler Bates, composer for the films 300 and Guardians Of The Galaxy among other things. The Pale Emperor takes Manson into some dark places that seem more personal and raw than anything he’s done before. And Manson’s set at the Melbourne leg of the Soundwave festival was informed by this new approach. With Bates as band leader given free reign to choose his own drummer (Gil Yaron) and second guitarist (Paul Wiley) and with Twiggy Ramirez on bass, Manson’s old material has been recast with hints and hues from the Pale Emperor material. While nobody can guess how long Manson will follow this particular musical path, I hope he stays in this zone for a while and explores what this band can do.
If you’ve been following this blog for a while you’re probably aware of what a huge Faith No More geek I am, so I was super excited to get to photograph the band at Soundwave yesterday (and to interview Billy Gould today for Australian Guitar magazine). Here are some of my shots. Faith No More’s new album Sol Invictus is released on May 19.
Can’t wait for this one! Steve Vai has signed a new deal with Sony Music Entertainment and Legacy Recordings, and the first release is a new live album and DVD recorded in LA in 2012 on the Story of Light World Tour.
PRESS RELEASE: Sony Music Entertainment and Legacy Recordings have signed virtuoso guitarist/composer/pro- ducer Steve Vai to a new multi-album agreement which includes plans to issue two fresh Vai sets in 2015 beginning with the release of Stillness In Motion – Vai Live in L.A. on April 7, 2015. Continue reading
Oh this sounds cool. Steve via will be the featured guest on Steve Rennie’s’s web show Renman Live on his Renman Music & Business site, Wednesday February 11 at 1pm EST/10am PST. You can watch it live on YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/user/renmanmb and if you need a world time calculator to figure out what time that is where you are in the world, head to timeanddate.com.
PRESS RELEASE: Renman Music & Business, the music industry mentoring website founded by longtime industry veteran, Steve Rennie (aka “Renman”), will broadcast the next episode of its Renman Live web show this Wednesday, February 11 with special guest, guitarist/songwriter, Steve Vai. The show will air live starting at 10:00 a.m. PST / 1:00 p.m. EST on the Renman MB YouTube channel at: https://www.youtube.com/user/renmanmb. A teaser video for the episode can be seen online at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fDuFfoBjcOI. Head over to Renman Music & Business at: http://www.renmanmb.com/live/renman-live-w-guitarist-steve-vai-wed.-feb-11th-at-10a-pstfor more info. Continue reading
PRESS RELEASE: The Studio Bass Compressor is a studio-grade soft-knee compressor designed for bassists who want to take control of the dynamics of their sound, from a subtle smoothing-out of peaks and valleys to the most squished and pinched extremes and everywhere in between. It’s extremely low noise and has an easy-to-use control format: The Blend knob allows you to adjust the amount of wet signal so you can bring natural snap back into your individual notes. The Volume knob lets you control the output (or you can push it up and lower the Compression for a great clean boost). The Attack knob regulates how quickly the compressor reacts to your initial pick attack – cranking it up will give a late attack that allows your pick or finger dynamics to come through before the compression kicks in. The Compressor knob is the heart of the pedal and allows you to easily control the dynamic range. Continue reading