Well, I’ve finally gone and done it: meet the I Heart Guitar Podcast! The first episode is online now and it features Rich Ward of Fozzy, Tony MacAlpine, and an interview from the archives with Black Sabbath legend Tony Iommi. I hope you enjoy it, and there’s a lot more where that came future will include guest co-hosts, gear reviews, blogpods from various events, and lots more.
I’ve also started a Patreon for those who wish to support this site and the podcast. $3 monthly subscribers will get a patron-exclusive bonus podcast each week.
You can listen to the podcast below, or at the following links:
I don’t know where my guitar picks disappear to. I’m pretty sure it’s the same place my socks and my abs went. Some days I spend at least as much time searching for plectra as I do playing guitar, and although for years I was strictly a one-pick dude (the Jim Dunlop Jazz III), I’ve trained myself to now use whatever pick I find, wherever I find it. It’s just better and more musicianly to remain adaptable than to be bound to any one type of pick.
The makers of Pickmaster must realise this quandry because they’ve created the ideal way to ensure you are never left pickless. The Pickmaster Plectrum Cutter is a very chunky and solidly built tool which lets you stamp out picks from whatever material you find around the house – old credit cards, the lid from the butter tub – you could even be super-ironic and use it to cut a guitar pick out of one of those large triangular bass picks. Read More …
Sarah McLeod has just released a video for the track ‘Wild Hearts’ from her new record Rocky’s Diner, and is about to hit the road for an Australian tour in support of the album. The Wild Hearts video captures seemingly routine moments in time, like passing buskers in the street – but rather than rush by them, like you might if you were on your way to work or similar responsibilities, the clip allows you to stay a while. It also features her adorable little dog, Chachi!
Wow, 2018 is gonna be a big year for Joe Satriani fans! Joe has announced a new record called What Happens Next, and it’s out on January 12. It features the rhythm section of Glenn Hughes and Chad Smith, so I can’t wait to hear the results. Visit Joe’s website to hear a preview of the track ‘Energy.’ And Joe is also kicking off a new G3 tour on January 11 with John Petrucci and Phil Collen. I’m really excited about this one because that’s three of my favourite guitarists from my teen years (who am I kidding – now too!) on the one bill, and it will be really interesting to see what Phil does in a solo context.
Here’s the press release about the new record and tour. Read More …
When the email about IK Multimedia T-RackS 5 hit my inbox, it dawned upon me that I’ve been using T-RackS for 18 years now. Whoa! If you haven’t tried it yet, a) what’s wrong with you and b) it’s an incredible suite of plugins for mastering, and I use it in all sorts of ways. Currently I’m using some of its EQ models to emulate particular mixing desk channels – my guitars go through a the model based on the Pultec® EQP-1A and a Black 76 Limiting Amplifier, then through my secret weapon: the Mic Room mic modeller, set for the same kind of mic I’m using but giving me access to the Proximity and Harmonics controls. Shh, don’t tell anyone.
T-RackS 5 has just been announced and it includes all the same great models but with a new improved audio engine, four new processors for a total of 38 high-quality modules on a flexible 16 processor series/parallel chain, a comprehensive broadcast ready professional metering tool section, a new completely redesigned, smart single-window GUI as well as an album assembly section with multi-format exporting function.
I’m particularly excited by the new Master Match module, which automatically matches the sound of your songs using up to three different source tracks as reference.
Man, I’m continually blown away by how well Dirt by Alice In Chains holds up today. For all its darkness and brutal honesty there’s something strangely beautiful about it. It’s not an easy listen. You can tell even at this stage that the band was surrounded by and drawn towards self-destruction. The lyrics speak not just of addiction in an abstract sense, but of surrendering willingly to it, throwing yourself into it and letting it take you over completely. Embracing the hopelessness and the fuck-it-ness of it all.
When I first heard the record, I couldn’t relate to that at all. Hell, the biggest addition I had was playing guitar, and I managed to turn that into something constructive. But as I got older I started to understand Dirt a little more. I was never a drug guy but I came to understand self-destruction, hopelessness, the compulsion to see how far you can take something that is bad for you, how low you can get before you admit you need help, how much you can dislike yourself before you decide to either do something about it or give in.
There are a lot of albums I love that I don’t particularly feel like I need to listen to regularly any more, just because they’re so burned into my brain. But this one keeps calling to me and I keep hearing new things. And although Dirt has been out there in the world for 25 years now and has been a part of my life since my teens, I don’t listen to it for nostalgia. I listen to it because it feels like a living, evolving document of the human condition. It’s filtered through the lens of depression, addiction, desperation and surrender but as a listener you can superimpose all sorts of demons onto it and hopefully exorcise them in the process.
Dirt is still not an easy listen. If you’re a sensitive soul, you’re going to feel a lot of things and you’re probably going to want to just sit in silence for a few minutes afterwards, letting your mind come back from wherever you’ve just been. But it’s a very worthwhile listen too.
What kind of a player are you: straight into the amp, or do you build your sound through stompboxes or effects units? I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately because the maturity of digital modelling means there’s a third alternative: “It’s all in my Kemper/Helix/Axe-Fx/etc” so sometimes it’s just an amp, sometimes it’s a bunch of effects, and sometimes it changes from verse to chorus.”
Me, I’m typically a straight-into-the-amp player. Generally I follow the EVH approach of using the guitar’s volume pot to adjust the amp gain, and most of the time I’m on the dirty channel whether I’m playing distorted or clean. I still love my pedals though and I’ve been collecting them since I was 13 years old so I’ve amassed a few favourites in that time. The Z.Vex Fuzz Factory, the Jim Dunlop Q Zone and Buddy Guy Cry Baby, the DOD FX25 Envelope Filter, the BOSS OC-2 Octave. And then there are my beloved Seymour Duncan pedals (As many of you no doubt know, I’m SD’s social media guy and I’m pretty loyal): the Forza and 805 Overdrive are my go-to drives even though I have …way too damn many overdriven to choose from. The Catalina Dynamic Chorus is the only chorus I’ll ever use now. And the Pickup Booster is so simple yet so classic. Can’t wait to get my hands and feet on an Andromeda Dynamic Delay too.
I guess the dream setup for me personally would be something like, say, a BOSS ES-8 so I can dip effects in and out while still effectively getting my main tone from the guitar and amp. The way I approach effects is very similar to what I recall Chris DeGarmo saying in a Guitar World interview back in the 90s: I see my tone as a beam of light, and effects as a prism to shine it through. I always want to keep the spirit of the sound intact, and I know that Marshall so well in terms of how it responds to my playing, what it can do, and what it needs a bit of extra help with.
One of the things that excites me about the Andromeda is that it’s MIDI-capable, and so is the ES-8, so if I get the two I’ll be able to build Andromeda preset changes into my patches. Kick in a Pickup Booster or 805 with some ducking delay for a hotter lead sound, switch on a nice atmospheric reverse delay for my rolled-back-volume cleanish rhythms, hit the OC-2 and a fat analog delay sound for big riffs of doom …actually I’m thinking of using a Seymour Duncan PowerStage 700 power amp to power a pair of wet speakers so I can have a wet/dry/wet setup for delays, chorus, reverb and pitch shifting, still taking advantage of my ‘straight-into-the-amp’ approach on the gain side of things while also getting the most out of my pedals for the ambient and really ear-catching stuff.
What about you? How do you approach your use of effects?
IK Multimedia has just announced iRig Keys I/O, a keyboard controller with a built-in audio interface. I love this! Personally I find that one of the biggest impediments to my recording projects is having to set everything up and deal with cramped spaces while trying to feel free and creative. With iRig Keys I/O, IK Multimedia has packed together a keyboard controller with 25 or 49 full-sized keys, line/instrument/mic input with phantom power, eight MIDI-assignable drum/sample pads, assignable control knobs (actually they’re in two banks so there are effectively eight plus a volume/data one. Assign them to your AmpliTube 4 amp knobs!), balanced stereo and headphone outputs, transport controls for your DAW, two assignable touch strips and more. Imagine the possibilities: with just an iRig Keys I/O and an iPad or laptop you can take care of all your keyboard, drum pad, instrument and mic inputs in a single device when you’re out and about. At home, just plug the outputs into some powered monitors and you’re ready to rock. I have to get one!