NEWS: This week’s new releases

Lindsay Buckingham – Gift of Screws
New solo album from the Fleetwood Macdaddy, with appearances by FleeMac cohorts Mick Fleetwood and John McVie. The word is that there is some pretty scorching guitar playing on this one, along with an altogether darker blues rock edge compared to his previous release, Under The Skin. Buckingham has always been hugely underrated but his tone and note choice are, to quote Cookie Monster, nomnomnomnom.

Buckcherry – Black Butterfly
Personally I was never really sold on Buckcherry. However, they do have some nice guitar tones and a cool sleaze-rock vibe, and early reviews proclaim this the best album of their career, so it may be worth a listen for those of us who never really gave them enough of a chance.

The Cure – Hypnagogic States
This EP consists of a few songs from the forthcoming full length album by the gloomy heroes of yesteryear, all remixed by the gloomy heroes of today, including members of My Chemical Romance, Fall Out Boy, AFI, 30 Seconds to Mars, and 65 Days of Static. All royalties from the EP will be donated to the International Red Cross.

David Gilmour – Live in Gdansk
2 CD/2 DVD set by former Pink Floyd guitarist, playing solo tracks as well as Pink Floyd classics. Not a lot of surprises in the setlist, but any chance to watch Gilmour’s tastefully restrained playing close-up should be seized upon and ravaged like a zebra with a trick knee.

Marc Ford & The Neptune Blues Club – self titled
Former Black Crowes guitarist Ford stakes out his claim to the same guitar hero territory prowled by the likes of Jimi Hendrix and Jeff Beck, with an album of original blues rock.

CUSTOM CORNER: Swirled Ibanez RG

Here’s my work-in-progress custom Ibanez RG. The body was an eBay find, and a Christmas present from Mrs Iheartguitar: it’s an Ibanez RG570 with a custom swirl paint job by Herc Fede. For a while, Herc was selling painted bodies on eBay, as well as doing custom work, but as of July 1, 2008 he stopped taking orders for custom finishes. He plans to still occasionally offer painted bodies for sale, so check his webside periodically to see if you can snag one. What I particularly like about this body is the abstract duck figure in the top left corner of the image.

The neck was another eBay discovery, and was hand made by Herc himself. The colours are based on the Ibanez Jem 77PMC purple multicolour model from the early 90s. The neck is in great condition and feels very smooth and comfortable.

The electronics will consist of a pair of Dimarzio EJ Custom humbuckers, which are designed to sound like old Gretsch FilterTrons, and a Dimarzio Vintage Solo single coil in the middle, which is voiced to sound like a P90. I already have so many shred-style guitars that I thought it would be cool to have something that sounds a little more traditional, yet looks completely over the top.

The hardware is all authentic Ibanez, in the Cosmo colour, a kind of matte grey. The clear pickguard is from Jeannie Pickguards.

All that remains to be done now is have the body clearcoated and the electronics cavities shielded, which will be done by ET Guitars.
Other parts were ordered from World of Music in Brighton East here in Melbourne (I used to teach there, and they have an especially awesome range of Fender guitars and amps), Rich Harris’s Ibanez Rules, Matt’s Music Center, and eBay seller Kenvai.

FEATURE: Digital editing for guitarists

Once upon a time, if you wanted to record something at home, chances are that you had to do it with a clunky four or eight track portable studio set up. My first was a Yamaha unit from the mid 80s, which I bought second hand out of the local paper when I was 14. I logged hours and hours of time on that thing, bouncing down tracks, faking a bass by manipulating the tape speed, recording backwards solos, and generally making a whole lot of noise. One time I created a Ministry-esque rhythm track and recorded Simpsons quotes directly off the VCR, relying on my mad pause button skills to ensure the ‘samples’ were recorded at the right point in the song. Today even the simplest computer can be an entire recording studio, and the rules have changed. You no longer have to worry about losing a little bit of treble every time you play your track, like you would with a cassette. And if you flub a part, it’s really easy to fix a note or two. Try that on a tape deck.

For the last year or so, my recording system of choice has been Pro Tools LE. I’ve stumbled upon a few cool tricks which apply to pretty much any digital work station, so feel free to try these at home. Just don’t hurt yourselves.

TWINKLE PANS: Record a stereo track of a single chord with a panning effect moving from left to right, timed to sweep the sound from one side to the other over the length of each bar. Then chop each bar up into 8th notes, and juggle them around randomly, so you get the chord sort of ‘twinkling’ across the stereo spectrum. You might hear a slight clicking sound at the start or end of each 8th note. If that’s the case, just draw in the tiniest of fade-ins and fade-outs at the start and end of the note, and you’ll be fine. You can also try using a tremolo effect, which you can lock to the tempo of the track, and set to fade in and out of the note naturally.

RHYTHMIC TREMOLO: Similar to twinkle pans, chop a bar into 8th or 16th note segments, but this time, instead of moving them around, delete some of them, to create interesting rhythms. Be a little bit lateral and see if you can find interesting polyrhythms or syncopations you might not have come up with any other way. Even if you’re not sold on the tremolo sound, you can still use it as a songwriting tool to write new riffs, which you can then play ‘manually.’

INSTANT KEYBOARD, JUST ADD REVERB: For fake keyboard sounds, use a reverb effect with the mix turned to 100% effected sound and a second or so of reverb time, then tremolo-pick single notes or octaves as fast as you can. With the un-reverbed note and any sense of definite rhythm removed from the signal, you’re just left with the general harmonic information. If you bring down the bass and treble frequencies and notch up the upper mids a bit, you can create a very interesting texture underneath extreme metal riffing.

DELAYED EFFECT: For a unique delay sound, copy the guitar track to a second track, move it back by 1 or 2 beats compared to the original track, then apply effects only to the shifted track, so you can have, say, flanger or pitch shifter happening only on the delays. Imagine your original melody line being repeated as a diatonic harmony, or drenched in deep vibrato.

THE MULTI AMP VIRTUAL RIG OF DOOM: Many amp modelling programs feature the ability to use two virtual amp rigs at once, but if that’s just not enough, or if your modeler only offers one sound at a time, copy and paste the same guitar part onto multiple tracks, and process each one differently to achieve otherwise unattainable sounds. This is especially fun for getting vaguely Frank Zappa-ish sounds: Try separate tracks of a completely uneffected guitar, a distorted guitar with a very short delay, a distorted guitar with a stationary wah effect, and a distorted guitar with an envelope filter, all at once, panned to various points in the stereo spectrum.

LOOK MA, I’M A SYNTH: Lock a modulation effect’s tempo to the speed of the song and feed it into an envelope filter for crazy synth-like swells. Try it on two tracks, panned hard left and hard right, with the modulation tempo set to quarter notes on one side and whole or 8th notes on the other; set each envelope filter to emphasise a different frequency; and compress the hell out of each side. You should get a phat, rhythmic ‘wub’ sound with a million and one uses, from Tea Party-style post rock apocalyptica to rave freakout.

I hope you have fun with these, and are inspired to come up with new editing tricks of your own.

GEAR: Strociek TurboTrem

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.

REVIEW: Bryan Beller – Thanks In Advance

Bassist Bryan Beller’s second album goes a little deeper than its predecessor, ‘View,’ both conceptually and musically. Always a great all-round bass player (he’s been former Zappa guitarist Mike Keneally’s right hand man since the mid 90s, and is a member of Steve Vai’s String Theories band), Beller now seems even more comfortable as a solo artist, whether he’s grooving in the rhythm section, throwing out a Zappaesque flurry, or blazing a solo.

Styles on ‘Thanks In Advance’ range from fusion to rock to electronica, to the almost vintage R&B feel of the title track. Sonically, the production is a little more open and bright than ‘View,’ and the compositions appear to breathe a little more. The bass playing is as tasty as ever, and as you might expect, the bass is presented on a silver platter, front and centre when it’s called for or carefully mixed to support the song when needed.

‘Casual Lie Day’ is a cruisy, jazzy track with a groovy, deep bass tone and some very tasteful guitar playing, topped off with a clever horn arrangement which gathers strength as the song progresses. ‘Play Hard’ is an upbeat vocal song with definite rock radio appeal and a bright guitar pop kind of vibe. It sounds a little bit like something by the band Freak Kitchen, but more substance, less gimmicky flash.

Mike Keneally makes a powerful appearance on ‘Love Terror Adrenaline/Break Through,’ moving smoothly from sparse single note lines to complex melodies, to huge, bristling chords, to an almost vocal and deep solo, to all out freak out, then into epic harmonies. Those who haven’t witnessed Keneally’s particular splendour before will be bowled over by his ability to play very fast, very difficult pieces without sounding like a ‘shred guy.’

‘From Nothing’ caps off the album, featuring Zappa Plays Zappa saxophonist Scheila Gonzalez jamming over a high energy rhythm section. By the time the song winds down, the album is wrapped up with a sense of catharsis and optimism.

Onion Boy Records

Thanks In Advance pre-orders begin on Monday September 15 at www.bryanbeller.com, and the album will be available from the end of September.

NEWS: ADA returns!

Those of us with a fondness for the, let’s just say, larger-haired corners of the rock guitar world will be excited to know that the long missing-in-action company ADA (Analog/Digital Associates) is on the way back after about a decade or so of inactivity.

ADA’s famous midi-controllable tube preamp, the MP-1, was used on a lot of recordings around the late 80s/early 90s, especially paired with the power section of a Marshall JCM800 or JCM 900 head. Notable MP-1 users included Steve Vai, Extreme’s Nuno Bettencourt, White Lion’s Vito Bratta, and Paul Gilbert. On the bass side, Primus’s Les Claypool used a modified MP-1, while Victor Wooten and Steve Bailey used the dedicated bass version, the MB-1. To this day, Gilbert uses a modified ADA flanger tweaked to create a whammy-like divebomb effect, and other notable flanger users include Pat Travers and Testament’s Alex Skolnick.


The new website is at www.adaamps.com and it shows the classic Final Phase and Flanger pedals, so we can assume these will be among the first products to be reissued. Could a reissued MP-1 be on the horizon?

A member of the ADA Depot forum posed some questions to ADA, and got this answer:

“Hello,

We’re in the storming and forming phase and usually send out a canned response, but your questions are intriguing and deserve an answer.

David Tarnowski, head engineer and inventor of all things A/DA, continues to be majority owner of A/DA and chief engineer of the new A/DA. He still owns all rights to the A/DA electronic designs and trademark. A group of us have convinced him that the time is right to come out of retirement and resurrect the A/DA legacy. We’re starting with stomp boxes, most notably the Flanger and Final Phase, which will be re-released in late 2008/2009. We’ll continue soon thereafter with other legacy effects such as Battman and the Seamoon line, as well as the Rocket Amp series. We’re currently working with suppliers to source original parts so that these releases can be as “original” as possible – we’ve gone over the designs and have decided that the original designs were best. We’re in the early stages, but are confident that we’ll have a full line of products to present at NAMM 2009.

Of particular interest to the ADAForum board would be our introduction of the all new MP3. Still on the drawing board, the digital potential is enormous and we’re still hashing out potential functionality prior to full design. As you well know, the fight starts trying to decide what goes into a future MPx and doesn’t stop until the prototype has been demo’d and agreed upon by all. As of now, there is no release date for the MP3.

We appreciate your interest and would ask that you help pass the word that the original A/DA is back!!

Cheers – the A/DA staff”

INTERVIEW: Dragonforce

UK power metal phenomenon Dragonforce has returned with Ultra Beatdown, an intense collection of anthemic, riff-happy, solo-frenzied chaos and symmetry the likes of which haven’t been heard since …well, since their last album of equally awe inspiring metal mayhem. But this time around the band has upped the stakes with freaky new sounds and more involved vocal arrangements. I spoke with keyboard player Vadim Pruzhanov just after the band put the finishing touches to the album, and I was privileged to hear some rough mixes, some of which were yet to have solos added: in their place were hilarious comments from the band warning off potential music pirates. This interview was originally published in Mixdown magazine in August 2008. It’s presented here cos Vadim’s approach may be quite interesting for guitarists as well as keyboard players.

VADIM PRUZHANOV: What kind of magazine is this?

PETER: It’s a musician’s magazine, with lots of stuff about gear.

VADIM: Cool man! I love geeky magazines! I’m gonna get so technical with it, you’re gonna get so confused.

PETER: Bring it on! I’ve been cranking the new album. It’s pretty intense.

VADIM: We’re pretty pleased with it! It sounds pretty awesome. We finished mastering five days ago and it turned out really cool. It took us 11 months to do this record, and our demos were really rough and really bad. We thought it was going to be a pretty crap album, but it turned out to be the best album so far. There’s such a progression on each album, and this one has the balance right. It has the melody, the catchiest stuff we’ve ever written. Inhuman Rampage was a bit of chaos, with great melody and brutal at the same time, but on this one everything is balanced out. You can have it as the background when you’re having a lovely meal with your girlfriend, you can listen to it and rock out in the car when you’re driving, and headbang to it as you’re driving. You can play air guitar or air keyboards to it. There are much more keyboards on this album, more solos. More variety actually. There’s so much depth on this album. Some influences were taken from tango music. There are some samba and jazzy fusion influences too. And we even did two or three songs mid tempo. But still the majority of the songs are pretty much the same speed, but there’s more variety and better flow.

PETER: You guys have got the speed and the sound, but the energy really comes through too, which is a hard thing to record.

VADIM: If you only try to be fast for the sake of it you’re going to lose out on the melody. On this album, we tried to improve the songwriting aspects. We tried to make the chorus overwhelmingly catchy. That doesn’t mean this album had less work done on it, because this album has more work done on it than anything we’ve ever done. Over the 11 months the songs would evolve and change all the time. It’s pretty good for us because the way we see it, the song remains fresh. I can’t wait for the fans to hear it.

PETER: What went into the keyboard sounds on the album?

VADIM: Imagine 30 keyboard tracks on each song, excluding the effects and other bits I used. I used DJ scratching, I used a Korg KAOSS pad for dynamic effects. I used this thing – I’m really proud of it – it’s called a Theremin, I don’t know if you’ve ever heard of it?

PETER: Hell yeah!

VADIM: I used it to produce all these waily, ghostly noises, and I pretty much used it on every song. On one song, it sounds like a roaring, really whacked out sound. You’ll think it’s a guitar or a human voice, but it’s not human. It’s kind of alien, like an unknown language. The Theremin goes really ballistic. Without being big-headed, I’m just going to try and say this: I’m the first person in the world to use Theremin on a power metal record.

PETER: You’ve gotta get an endorsement! Get your own signature model. You can buy Theremin kits on eBay you have to put together yourself.

VADIM: I might do that, man! I bought mine already made. I’m really crap at putting things together. This is amazing. Two antennas, one for pitch, one for volume, go for it. I put it through the guitar rig. I put it through delays and reverb on the guitar processors, and I also used a talk box, so I could sing and pronounce words. I tried a lot of whacked stuff with it. I put it through a Triton Extreme sampler and messed around with it on my computer. There’s so much stuff. The KAOSS pad was used to much on every track. It’s like a new instrument, a new level, between the Theremin and KAOSS pad.

Ultra Beatdown is in stores now

INTERVIEW: Paul Gilbert

In the world of guitar heroes, Paul Gilbert is the everyman’s shred god. Vai has the alien freak thing down, Satch is the shiny Silver Surfer, and Yngwie is the neoclassical reincarnation of the roadrunner. Gilbert just comes across as a cool guy who loves to rock. With a career spanning classic shred band Racer X, through to Mr Big (admit it, you’ve strummed “To Be With You” on an acoustic guitar around the campfire at least once), covers projects with Mike Portnoy of Dream Theater, and a solo career that’s seen him play everything from jangly guitar pop to all-out metal, with a few classical detours along the way, it’s surprising to note that 2006’s, “Get Out Of My Yard,” was his first all-instrumental album. In October of that year, Gilbert took some time out from defending his yard to tell me all about it.
PETER: Why did you wait until now to release an all-instrumental CD, and what inspired you to do it?
GILBERT: When I was a kid, all the coolest guitar players were in big rock bands, playing arenas, and being played on the radio. And all these bands had SINGERS. Eddie Van Halen with David Lee Roth, Jimmy Page with Robert Plant, Randy Rhoads with Ozzy, Alex Lifeson with Geddy Lee, Michael Schenker with Phil Mogg… and even Allan Holdsworth had John Wetton. I loved these guitarists, but I also loved their BANDS. So when flashy guitar playing started to become a niche that was aimed solely at an audience of guitar players, I wanted to stay away from it. From the beginning, my band RACER X had singing and songs. MR. BIG, of course, went even further in that direction. And as a solo artist I surprised everyone and went in a pop/punk direction rather than make the shred album that most people were expecting. But as much as I love rock and pop songs, I AM a guitar player. And after playing for 30 years, my guitar had some things to say. So I thought I would quit complaining about the guitar niche and heartily join in by making the coolest CD of pure guitar music I could dream up.
PETER: Did you stumble across any cool new techniques during the recording of the album?
GILBERT: The first song I recorded was the Haydn symphony. I used my guitar to replicate every instrument in the orchestra. I learned bassoon parts, oboe parts, cello, clarinet, flute, bass, viola, and of course, the main violin parts. The arpeggios and scale sequences in classical music are always a challenge to play on guitar, so I have no choice but to invent some unusual fingerings to make the notes happen. After recording the whole piece, I was definitely warmed up to do the rest of the record!
PETER: What happened to the song titles for the album that you originally posted on your website, that when strung together formed a paragraph about pesky kids in the yard?
GILBERT: Ahh! You saw that! I thought that would really cool at first, but I couldn’t remember which song was which, so I went back to my original titles.
PETER: What guitars did you play on the album?
GILBERT: I used an Ibanez PGM300 with a Kahler tremolo on it. I haven’t used a whammy in a long time and it was fun to try it again. You can hear that guitar on the solo in “The Curse of Castle Dragon”. I also used it on the main parts of the Haydn symphony. I have a custom Ibanez doubleneck that I used for the opening “Get Out of My Yard” solo. One of the necks is strung with just 3 strings, all tuned to “E” in octaves, low, middle, and high. This is really good for playing arpeggios with hammer-ons and pull-offs. I used this tuning with a capo in a bunch of different positions to make the intro happen. I also have some vintage Ibanezes that I really like: a ’79 hollowbody Artist, a ’77 Deluxe 59’er Les Paul copy, and a ’77 SG Custom copy. I bought these all on ebay. They are killer!
PETER: Will there be any new PGM Ibanez models in the near future?
GILBERT: I just got a new prototype with a narrower fingerboard and three gold covered humbuckers. It’s really cool! For something to become a production model, I would really have to become my main guitar. And the current PGM301 is still hard to beat.
PETER: How did you get to be so damn good on the guitar? Do you practice a lot these days, or do you not need to any more?
GILBERT: Thank you the compliment. I don’t practice ALL the time, but often enough. I definitely had to practice for the Haydn symphony!
PETER: What’s the strangest place you’ve heard one of your songs played?
GILBERT: The first thing I can think of is… a few years ago I was doing a guitar clinic… I think it was in Kansas. A kid who worked at the music store picked me up from the airport, and as soon as we got in his car he turned on his stereo and starting listening to “The Jam”. This the last song on my first solo album “King of Clubs”. It’s a 20 minute long guitar battle where the rhythm section basically never changes, and Bruce Bouillet and I just solo and solo and solo and solo. So, back the story… the song was about 17 minutes into it when he turned it on. That meant he had already made it that far. And then, 3 minutes later, the songs ended… and STARTED AGAIN. He had the thing in “loop” mode. 20 minutes of non-stop soloing was NOT ENOUGH for this kid. He needed it AGAIN. Insane.
PETER: Godzilla is tearing apart the city. You have time to save one guitar before he eats the rest. What guitar will it be?
GILBERT: At the moment, I really love my ’79 Artist hollowbody. I haven’t played hollowbodies much before but the thing just resonates so beautifully. Even at a low volume I get great feedback and sustain. Plus it’s BIG and since I’m very tall it’s nice to have a guitar that’s more my size. Maybe, armed with this guitar, I could fight off Godzilla and preserve the rest of my guitar collection. I would certainly try.

GET OUT OF MY YARD is on Mascot Records
Click here to buy ‘Get Out of My Yard’ on CD.
Click here to buy the ‘Get Out of My Yard’ instructional DVD.
Click here to buy ‘Silence Followed by a Deafening Roar’ on CD.
Click here to buy the ‘Silence Followed by a Deafening Roar Guitar Instructional DVD & Shred Annex.’