One of the coolest guitars on show at the Winter NAMM Show this year was the Framus Idolmaker, a unique instrument designed by guitarist Stevie Salas with Framus’s Marcus Spangler and Hans-Peter Wilfer. It’s an incredibly original guitar that only vaguely recalls the merest possible hints of anything you’ve seen before, and when Salas was in Australia recently I jumped at the chance to interview him about it. But I also took the chance to chat about something very near and dear to my heart: his most triumphant guitar solo at the end of Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure. Here’s our chat.
So what the hell are you doing in Australia?
Y’know, I’ve been there many times before but I came down to do one song with a band from the Northern Territory, the kids of the band Yothu Yindi. They have this really cool band (East Journey) and somebody asked me if I’d come down and cut a track with them. And any chance I have to come down to Australia, I’m gonna take it. Continue reading
In January I spent a few glorious days at Seymour Duncan HQ in Santa Barbara, and while I was there I got to try some awesome new gear, including a prototype of the Custom Shop SLUG humbucker and a few prototypes of what would go on to become this bad boy: the Seymour Duncan 805 Overdrive. A few of us tried these various versions (including Keith Merrow and Wes Hauch) and it became apparent that one prototype in particular was really special. It’s hands down the most versatile overdrive I’ve ever played, with a huge range of tones and a very responsive feel. And it’s utterly killer as a boost into an already distorted amp too, so those of you who like to use a EVH 5150 III or Peavey 6505 with an overdrive in front will love it! I know I’ll be using it to goose the Lead channel of my Marshall DSL50 (as well as using it as an overdrive in its own right). Here’s the press release. Continue reading
Most biographies of Jimmie Vaughan rightfully mention his powerful yet restrained Stratocaster playing. Most also mention, of course, his brother Stevie Ray, with whom Jimmie recorded one album before SRV was taken from us. What’s perhaps slightly less prominently mentioned is that Jimmie is also a bit of a style icon: his classic band The Fabulous Thunderbirds helped to usher in a blues revival while also popularising ‘retro cool.’ The slicked back hair, the hot rods, the vintage threads – Jimmie is his own man who cuts an imposingly cool figure across the guitar landscape. So what would it be like to talk with a man who has opened for Jimi Hendrix, stood on stage with the likes of Eric Clapton and Buddy Guy, opened for Bob Dylan and pretty much summarised a whole lifestyle which is soundtracked by hot 50s Stratocasters, scented by sun-warmed leather interiors and wrapped in mid-century sunglasses? Well it turns out that although he gives off an air of the ultimate baddass, Jimmie Vaughan is a dude who’s so cool and friendly that you instantly become cool by association. And you’ll want to go and pick up your guitar. Continue reading
Ever wished you could go to the NAMM Show, but bummed out that it’s so dang hard to get into unless you’re there in some professional capacity? Well the Music Industry Day offers musicians, pro-audio and staging professionals and music lovers access to the exclusive NAMM Show in Nashville, Tennessee on Saturday July 19. You’ll be able to try out next-generation gear from hundreds of the biggest brand names in music, meet artists and engineers, network with music industry professionals, attend workshops such as How to Grow Your Internet Presence, 10 Keys to Marketing Success for Musicians, and more. Here’s the press release.
PRESS RELEASE: NAMM opens its doors to musicians, songwriters, and sound and staging professionals on Music Industry Day, Saturday, July 19 from 10AM-4PM at Nashville’s Music City Center. Music Industry Day offers a once a year opportunity to demo new gear from hundreds of brands, attend workshops designed to further careers in music, check out live music, and network with music industry leaders at an exclusive, trade-only NAMM event. Continue reading
Man, I love Robert Plant so hard. He’s one of my favourite singers ever. And not Young Led Zeppelin Robert Plant. That guy was great. But I like 40s-And-Beyond Robert Plant even more. There’s a texture and character to his voice that taps into a vulnerability and nuance that even the great Young Led Zeppelin Robert Plant couldn’t muster. I hear it on material from Fate Of Nations onwards. Plant has never been scared to explore new territory, from song to song and album to album, and it really feels like he’s truly expressing himself with his voice rather than simply repeating the songs the audience want to hear. I don’t want to hear Robert Plant replicating what he’s done on record (not that he’d do that anyway). I want to hear him take it somewhere else that I can’t get sitting at home in a beanbag. If you’ve ever seen him live you know what I’m talking about. He’ll play a song like “Black Dog” but it’ll be an utterly different track to the Led Zeppelin version in every way but lyrically. And I frigging love that. The song above, “Little Maggie,” will be on his new album Lullaby And… The Ceaseless Roar, which will be released September 9 on Nonesuch/Warner Bros. Records.
PRESS RELEASE: Shihad have announced the release of their brand new album, FVEY (pronounced, Five Eyes), on Friday, August 15.Recorded in December last year at Auckland’s legendary York Street Studio with Killing Joke frontman, Jaz Coleman at the production helm, FVEY sounds unlike anything Shihad have done before. When frontman Jon Toogood, drummer Tom Larkin, bass payer Karl Kippenberger and guitarist Phil Knight reconvened in Melbourne during the winter of 2013 for a lock down writing session it was a natural move to conjure up a brutal set of songs. “Total brutality from start to finish,” says Larkin. Continue reading
Back in the early days of the electric bass, nobody quite knew what the hell a bass should be. Should it be an electric version of an upright? No, not everyone has the lower back strength to really, truly rock out on stage with one of those things. Leo Fender’s Precision Bass set a precedent that was followed by pretty much everyone pretty much instantly, and almost all basses today are descendants of that design. But in the late 50s a few companies started messing around with something else. Some call it the bass guitar. Some just call it a six-string bass. But although Danelectro were the first to bring one to the mass market, Fender also took the idea and ran with it. Picture this: an oversized guitar with six strings, but tuned a full octave down, and with string spacing that’s much more guitar-like than bass-like.
The story of the Seymour Duncan Jason Becker Perpetual Burn humbucker is a very interesting one. Back in the day, a young Jason Becker became taken with the tone of a Gibson Les Paul loaded with a Seymour Duncan JB humbucker. The guitar belonged to Bob Rock, who was producer of David Lee Roth’s A Little Ain’t Enough album, and Jason used it on the title track. He was so intrigued by the tone of the JB that he started talking with Seymour Duncan about this pickup needs. Some prototypes were developing and the project was well on its way when Jason had to call a halt due to his progressively worsening ALS. But recently, while listening to friends play his guitars through prototypes of a possible signature amp, Jason was blown away by the tone of the prototype pickup. So he reached out to Seymour Duncan to finish was started. The Jason Becker Perpetual Burn bridge humbucker is the result.
There was a time when it looked like we might not get another Behemoth album. Frontman Adam ‘Nergal’ Darski was diagnosed with leukaemia in August 2010, and an urgent bone marrow transplant was needed. The surgery was ultimately successful, but Nergal was re-admitted after developing an infection. Then when the band finally returned to the road, he found himself exhausted, pushed to the brink by the exertion and intensity required to play a Behemoth show. “I knew I was pretty much fucked and there was a battle to be won, and I had no fucking idea if it was going to take six months or twelve months or maybe four years, because with cancer you never know,” Nergal says. “I learned from being in the hospital that there are things in life that you can control and things that you can’t control. The sooner you realize which is which it’s going to make your life so much easier, and since then I started to focus on the right things. I could be determined, I could have discipline, I could have faith, but everything else is not under my control, and it really was a case of just crossing fingers for the best possible outcome.” Continue reading
Def Leppard guitarist Phil Collen’s Ibanez Destroyer from the “Photograph” video is iconic, and but these days Phil is a Jackson dude, so what does one do when one wants to tap into the spirit of that guitar but with much more customised features? Well, one turns to the folks at Jackson to build a custom Kelly with appointments inspired by that Destroyer! Phil is using this new axe on the band’s current co-headlining tour with KISS. Of course, if you want a real Ibanez Destroyer, you’ve gotta check out THIS bad boy (one of my dream guitars) or these guys.
Below the press release with more info about the X-STROYER (plus a cropped version of the above pic so you can see more detail). Continue reading
Wow! The folks at Positive Grid have done it again, and HOW! They’ve just announced BIAS Desktop, for those of us who utterly love their BIAS app but wish they could use it with their recording software. And they’ve nailed exactly what I was hoping these guys would do: amp matching. Not only will BIAS Desktop let you create killer tones of its own accord, it can also listen to a real or recorded amp and create a digital replica of its tone. BIAS Desktop is planned for a Q3 launch, and you can sign up to be one of the pre-release testers. Info below in the press release.
Those magnificent folks over at Guitarist, Total Guitar and Guitar Techniques magazines and MusicRadar.com present The Gear Show, a new monthly helping of guitar goodness featuring the hottest new product demos, killer tone from pro players and much more. The first episode is embedded below or you can click here to open it in a new window. In episode one, you’ll find a Mesa/Boogie Recto Verb 25 demo; Yamaha LL16D ARE, LS16M ARE & LJ6 ARE acoustic demo; What’s In Store with GAK (Gibson 1959 ES-335 Dot Reissue and, later, Wampler Ace Thirty); Simon McBride on his PRS 408; Tone King Royalist demo; Fender Jim Root Jazzmaster; Meet Your Maker with Taylor Guitars; Single-pickup guitar round up; and Me & My Guitar with Max Helyer from You Me At Six. The production values are awesome, the tone is relaxed but informative, and I can think of very few better ways to spend an hour.