The Aristocrats – Bryan Beller, Guthrie Govan and Marco Minnemann – are preparing to release their very first live CD and DVD, BOING, We’ll Do It Live!, just in time to awesomize the holidaysfor musicians everywhere. And get this: the 5.1 surround audio mix was done by Steven Wilson of Porcupine Tree!
I was lucky enough to catch the Aristocrats’ very first gig back before they even had a name, and I can’t wait to crank the new DVD up to neighbour-enraging levels at home. There’s more info about the DVD below, but before we get to that, Guthrie has shared a few words on the custom Charvel he’s been seen playing recently.
“Hello! Guthrie here, with a somewhat boring (but apparently necessary!) update… and a pretty picture ;-)
Well… the guitar I’ve been using lately has apparently caused something of a stir in certain sectors of the online community, so I figured it might be helpful if I explained what’s actually going on. Continue reading
Okay, so the other day I posted some pics of a pair of Charvel 7-strings at NAMM, and a lot of people want to know more about them. Here’s the score.
These two (and another one you can see above) are Charvel Custom Shop one-offs for the NAMM show. They’re not for sale. While I was checking them out, a Charvel fan tried very very hard to convince the Charvel guys to let him buy one but they wouldn’t bite. There are no current plans to make a production version of these, and if you would like to order one from the Custom Shop you are very welcome to do so, however the waiting list is currently at about two years.
So here are some more pics of the two I originally posted about:
Check this out! A pair of Charvel San Dimas 7-strings. Seymour Duncan pickups, Floyd Rose bridges. One with two humbuckers, rosewood fretboard and a quilted maple top, the other with maple fretboard, a single humbucker and a matte black finish. Niiiiiice.
UPDATE: Want more? How about hardtail?
Progressive Rock in 5 minutes Aaaahahaha. What are your favourite prog cliches? Mine is the deceptively easy odd-time riff. You know the one, where they just cut back and forth between two simple phrases one and a half times then repeat?
Geoff Tate interview Awesome interview with Queensryche’s Geoff Tate by Mitch Lafon at Bravewords.com
Black Veil Brides on the dangers of performing Guitar World column by BVB’s Jinxx. By the way, I interviewed Andy Biersack from Black Veil Brides recently for a mag – it’ll be published soon. Did you see him bust his rib a couple of weeks ago? Brutal. This is my favourite video of the incident, because if you didn’t know the band you might think that the out-of-tune fan singing along is actually Andy’s vocals.
Google+ I has it.
Buddy Blaze Guitars on Facebook Gorgeous axes, great endorsers, and Buddy and Joyce are super-cool people.
To partially quote Elton John, remember when rock was fun? When you could crank up the car stereo, hang out the window and scream the lyrics to ‘Loving You Is A Dirty Job’ with a smile on your face? Then the 90s happened and music got kinda depressing. Then the 00s happened and music got kinda homogenised and computerised and just, y’know, boring. Well the 21st century is in its teens now and has started sneakin’ out to parties, kissin’ girls, fighting boys and rockin’ out. Hard. And that can only mean one thing: Ratt’s back, baby. This classic Sunset Strip band is kicking all sorts of ass with their new CD Infestation, and I had a chat to guitarist Warren DeMartini about it.
The response to the new CD has been huge!
It’s really, really exciting, Peter. It really reminds me of the feeling we had when we started. It’s just been great.
Why the long wait?
That’s a good question, and I don’t have an answer for it. It’s a really weird art form that just kinda falls together when the planets line up, I guess. It’s not something we really could have done any sooner or any other way.
It also seems like a really good time because, well, for me I was a teenager in the 90s and I loved 80s rock and you were not allowed to love 80s rock in the 90s! And now nobody cares about stuff like that any more, now you can like what you like.
Yeah, I absolutely know what you’re talking about. It’s like someone’s switched the light on.
I understand you recorded Infestation in a mansion?
We did, we’re really big fans of records that have the stories behind them, like the band will rent a villa in the south of France, live there for six months and cut some timeless piece. We always talked about doing it but it really didn’t merge with opportunity until this record.
Did you use the space in creative ways, like do the Led Zeppelin thing of putting the drums in the stairwell, or was it more of just an environment to be in?
What happened was, our producer Michael Baskette basically bought his family’s home on the Chessapeake Bay and turned it into a recording studio. So it was already set up for recording. It just kinda evolved. He was cutting records in his living room, the as he got more and more successful he had more and more modifications done to the place, then he finally totally redid it to be a studio. It worked out perfectly, having the remoteness of getting away and moving into a place for a while, and the technical aspects.
So it’d be a very different album if you recorded it in LA or something.
I think so. It was more of a wake up in the morning, have a cup of coffee and get to it, then take a few breaks, get back to it, go to sleep, wake up and do it again. It was a little different not having to drive somewhere, and not having the kind of distractions you typically get when you record in LA.
Well that’s kinda like me except it’s a laptop and a Pro Tools MBox in the corner of the lounge room.
Yeah! It gets easier and easier, doesn’t it! (laughs).
So were you trying to make a classic Ratt album or did it just happen?
You can’t really try – the second you try it just doesn’t work. The only thing we were semi-conscious of going in was we wanted to recreate the energy, spark and colour of the stuff that was coming out around the time of 84, Out Of The Cellar meets Invasion of Privacy kind of thing. It was a kind of a ‘not spend too much time on any one thing,’ go-with-the-gut kind of approach to those records, that changed as we had more time to spend in the studio.
And it sounds like you guys are having fun.
Yeah, you can get great results with either approach, and on this one that almost through-and-go kind of approach really worked this time.
So what gear did you use on the CD?
There were two parts to the recording, because we were doing the 25th anniversary Out Of The Cellar tour in between the whole thing, so I cut the record with the reissue San Dimas-style Charvel, and I also had a Performance Koa and a Nashville Gretsch. Then we went back and did about a month’s worth of gigs, then we came back and that’s when I brought another Charvel, so I had the black French graphic, the white French graphic, a Performance Koa and a Gretsch Nashville.
It’s really cool to see Charvel coming back over the last few years since Fender bought them.
Yeah, they really got great again. Fender bought Charvel several years ago so it’s all assembled in Corona, which is a very similar result that they had with the San Dimas plant, so it’s something I like being involved in.
And Performance, how did you hook up with those guys back in the day?
I was at Frank Zappa’s studio and his guitar was sitting there on a guitar stand. I said ‘Can I try it out?’ and he said ‘Yeah,’ and I played it and I was astounded how good it played. I was like, ‘What? What is this? Where did it come from?’ and he told me about their shop. At that time it was by the Capitol Records building in Hollywood. I called them up and said ‘Do you still have the specs on the guitar you built for Frank Zappa?’ He said yes and I just ordered one right there. That was the beginning of many collaborations.
Is that the same neck shape you use today?
Yeah, the Koa necks were all more or less based on that neck they made for Frank. I have several of them, and the Koa was one of those lot, yeah.
You just don’t see them in Australia so I was really stoked to try out a bunch at NAMM.
Yeah, the skill and the extra time in them can be very impressive.
And what about amps?
On Infestation I did the basics with a Diesel, then when we went to overdubs we hooked a Soldano and a Diesel together. The Diesel filled out the bottom, the upper mids and highs, and we blended that with a Soldano which had taken most of the mids, and it was just a nice combination.
Did you talk about gear choices with Carlos Cavazo, or did he do his own thing?
There were many amps which were part of the studio, and I think Carlos used one of those, possibly with the Soldano, I can’t remember. I know Carlos used a Marshall that belongs to the studio, and I believe the Soldano.
You guys have some great twin-lead stuff on the album. It’s great to hear that again.
Thanks! Yeah, that was kind of another loose thing we were keeping in mind doing this record: keeping the twin lead stuff that Robbin Crosby and I crafted early in the band’s career.
So Australian tour plans. Are you coming back any time soon? Please?
Definitely! We were there a couple of years ago and it well, and basically the word was, when you come out with a new record, come on back! So I’m counting on that happening. So while there isn’t a definite plan at the moment, I know it’s in the works. There’s a festival in Tokyo that happens every year, and we got added to that last week, so it would make sense to take it to Australia.
And I hear you were recently added to Download.
Yeah! The Infestation tour, we’re doing some warm-up stuff here but we’re going to sort of officially launch the tour in Europe at Sweden Rockfest on June 10th, then Download’s on the 13th.
Cool, hit the ground running!
Yeah! That’ll get the blood pumpin’!
Photo from the Ratt website
The Charvel Surfcaster debuted in 1992 and at the time it was a bit of an anachronism. A little too early to cash in on the grunge-inspired attraction to vintage designs, and a little too late for the kind of clean-toned, ‘The Cure’ type tones it excelled at, the Surfcaster’s most notable user was probably Anthrax’s Scott Ian, who used one for the clean tones in the track ‘Black Lodge’ from The Sound Of White Noise and was pictured with one on the cover of a 1993 edition of Guitar World. These semi-hollow, lipstick pickup-toting axes never quite got the respect they deserved, although those who did buy them evidently loved them because it’s quite rare to see them on the used market. When you do find them, expect to pay around USD$1,000. The Surfcaster design lived on until 2005, by which time it had been shifted to sister company Jackson, with production moved from Japan to India. Personally I’d love to see Surfcasters return to regular production under Charvel.
I love these retro designs. The SGV series was probably a bit to wild for most players, with its slight upside-down melted Rickenbacker bass look and unconventional whammy bridge which worked great when you gave it a little TLC but was maybe a little too high maintenance for some. The SGV-800 (and the more upscale SGV-1200) had a pair of P90-style single coils which were fat and growly. The SGV-700 (and lower-priced little buddy the SGV-300) rocked a smaller single coil and a very unique humbucker. The retro/modern look wasn’t lost on Meegs from Coal Chamber, who used a black custom shop SGV with twin humbuckers, a fixed bridge, drop-tuning lever on the low E string, and number-shaped fretboard position markers, Jason Becker-style. You can find SGVs on eBay and in pawnshops pretty regularly and while they were underappreciated in their day, a little set-up know-how makes them a bargain well worth seeking out today.
Washburn Steve Stevens
These models were advertised somewhat heavily in the guitar magazines when Stevens was a member of Motley Crue singer Vince Neil’s solo band circa 1993. I remember seeing the truss rod adjustment at the base of the neck, as well as the 2-humbucker, 1 volume, 1 tone control layout and thinking “Dude’s trying to make a Strat-style guitar out of an Ernie Ball Music Man Edward Van Halen.” Funnily enough, by the time the Vince Neil tour rolled around, Stevens was playing… Ernie Ball Music Man Edward Van Halens. There were three versions of Washburn’s Steve Stevens signature guitar: two Chicago custom shop-built models (the SS80 and SS100) and the Korean-made SS40. The SS100 had a white front with a Frankenstein graphic and black back and sides, while the SS80 was solid black. Pickups were a set of slanted Seymour Duncan JBs, and the body wood was poplar. Check out this old-school Washburn advertisement.
CLICK HERE to see Yamaha SGV guitars on eBay.
Fender Tommy Emmanuel Telecaster
Tommy Emmanuel is well known for his amazing acoustic playing, but those who started following Tommy’s career in recent years might be surprised to know he once had a signature Fender Telecaster. Very similar in design to Fender’s Nashville Telecaster, this Mexico-made axe was made exclusively for the Australian market, and it added a Strat-style middle single coil to the traditional Telecaster layout. It also had a six saddle bridge with old-school saddles (not those big flat ones like you see on Deluxe series Fenders), and a blue finish which recalled, without directly copying, Tommy’s blue Fender Custom Shop Telecaster, which had three black Bartolini single coils and white body binding. Tommy’s main Telecaster squeeze though was a gorgeous 66 Custom, also with Bartolonis. See that one here. (Fender Tommy Emmanuel Telecaster photo from the Fendertalk forums).
Ibanez Steve Lukather (SL1010SL)
Steve Lukather’s current Ernie Ball Music Man signature is so kickass a guitar that it’s easy to forget that in the early-mid 80s he had a signature Ibanez. Part of the Roadstar II series, Luke’s model featured a carved birdseye maple top on a basswood body, a maple neck with ebony fretboard, two Ibanez humbuckers (a Super 58 in the neck and an SL Special – essentially an overwound Super 58 – in the bridge position), 22 frets, subtle cross inlays, coil splitting performed via the volume and tone pots, and the much-maligned Pro Rock’r bridge, which had a locking nut and fine tuners but wasn’t as stable as Ibanez’s later Edge series models.
Charvel has released the second batch of custom colours for its USA So Cal Style 1 and San Dimas Style 1 and Style 2 solidbodies.
Check out this wacky little innovation. Ever busted a string on a guitar with a Floyd Rose trem, and been unable to locate an allen wrench to fix it? A company called Strociek has designed the TurboTrem series of replacement whammy bars based on several popular models, with a hidden feature: a 3mm allen wrench built into the base of the bar. Now if you pop a string, just remove the whammy bar and use the screw/push-in end as an allen wrench. Genius!
Strociek currently offers 3 models of TurboTrem: threaded, collared, and pop-in. The company says the TurboTrem is compatible with any Kahler tremolo system and all original and licensed Floyd Rose single and double locking tremolo systems, such as the Ibanez Edge series, Schaller, Gotoh, ESP, Peavey, Jackson and Charvel and more.