Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Danny Gatton's First Instructional Video online!!

This was brought to my attention by my good friend and guitar wizard Stomias over at the Lesson Loft. (Thanks brother!) For those not familiar, Danny Gatton was just one of those monstrous players. Gibson.com ranked Gatton as the 27th best guitarist of all time. Plagued by depression, on October 4, 1994, Gatton locked himself in his garage and shot himself. A HUGE loss for the guitar and music community at large.

From Wikipedia: Gatton's playing combined musical styles such as jazz, blues and rockabilly in an innovative fashion, and he was known by some as "the Telemaster" (a portmanteau of "Telecaster", Gatton's guitar of choice, and "Master"). He was also called "the world's greatest unknown guitarist". His most common nickname was "The Humbler", owing to his ability to "humble" or out-play anyone willing to go up against him in "head-cutting" jam sessions. It was Amos Garrett, guitar player for Maria Muldaur, who nicknamed Gatton "The Humbler". After a successful gig, Garrett would pull out a tape of Gatton and tell his band, "You think we played well tonight. Let's take a minute to listen to the Humble-lizer." A photo published in the October 2007 issue of Guitar Player magazine shows Gatton playing in front of a neon sign that says "Victims Wanted".

In 1987, a video produced by Pro Video Corp, titled: Gatton's Tips & Tricks for Guitar was released on VHS. It can now, thanks to the internet, be watched in its entirety at this link.

So head on over. But be prepared to spend a serious amount of time. Once you start into it, you likely won't be stopping!

Friday, May 27, 2011

My new fav Distortion pedal

"For many, many years you've basically had 2 choices for your Overdrive;/Distortion pedals... You could either get "Soft-clipped" Bluesy, slightly compressed, (Toob Screemer, FD2, etc etc etc etc etc etc) type Overdrive pedals... or you could get "Hard-Clipped" (OCD, Distortion+, Boss DS-1, etc etc etc etc etc etc) type Distortion pedals.
What if there was a pedal that offered both?"

This above quote comes directly from the mouth of Micheal Fuller President of Fulltone. To it I will respond with two words:

Mission Accomplished! 

Damn this is a seriously nice sounding guitar pedal! 
I am quite quickly believing Mr Fuller to be a man of rather extreme talents. A few years back, I purchased the Fulltone DejaVibe2 (univibe style pedal). I was, and remain, blown away by its authenticity to the original. So when I came across the PlimSoul at the store counter I was quite optimistic. After only a few days I am beginning to feel I will have a similar affection for this little beauty. I suspect it, like the DejaVibe2 will be a permanent resident on my pedal board.

I spent a good deal of time in the local music store, trying out numerous pedals - one after another. I must have tried 15-20 distortion/overdrive/fuzz pedals of all makes and models. In the end the Fulltone PlimSoul was the one I decided to take home for a demo with my guitar and live rig, before making the commitment to buy. It only got better!

Tuesday night - rehearsal with a 80's style metal project. The distortion provided was thick and clear. Through a Marshall 4x12 it sounded very authentic. Very cool! Thursday night - rehearsal with jazz/rock fusion instrumental project ... playing through a Dr Z Maz 38 (twin style combo). Again the beautiful distortion, had a warm bluesy density to it BUT it also maintained complete clarity. Wanted a tube screamer tone - it was there. Wanted a wide open Eric Johnson style lead sound - it was there too! Even full out, wide open, super saturation, I could hear every note in extended chord forms. SOLD!

In this corner of the world Fulltone is 2 for 2.... and I am becoming a big fan and believer. Thanks Mike! You made my guitar playing more inspired and enjoyable this week. Without folks like you, musicians would not be able to fulfill their tonal wishes. Great sounds breed inspiration, inspiration breeds great music. I am sure your pedals will play a big part in a lot of great music and its performance. I salute you.

Check out Fulltone, here is their PlimSoul website link.

I should say I have ZERO affiliation with Fulltone. This is the best kind of promotion: FREE!

Monday, May 9, 2011

The Metronome AND Victor Wooten

Some guys ya just gotta love and for me Victor Wooten is one of them. A monster player, and a very giving, spiritual guy (the support he gave to this very blog - on the sidebar - are a testament to that!)

Check out this very cool video on how to use a metronome in your practice sessions. This is solid gold right here! A guitar player's tempo or "pocket" is the least spoken of - yet easily most important aspect of one's playing. If your playing lacks conviction then this is likely the place to look.

Take us away Victor!

The bad gig - survival and recovery

We've all been there! One of the biggest mental disappointments, and often beginning of the next great slump is the gig that goes awry. I hate them when they happen, but always learn from them, so I guess that makes them ... good?? This past weekend, I played with a blues/rock band at a private party function. It was a 50th birthday party for a very cool guy who frankly deserved better.

Firstly, the crowd was slow to warm up. Appreciative definitely, but not a dancing group - least early on. I find that whenever it is a get-together of old friends, they are MOSTLY interested in catching up - as they should be - and less interested in listening or dancing. There is nothing less inspiring than looking at the backs of people's heads all night! But you still gotta bring it.

Secondly, they had a series of speeches / announcements that came at impromptu times. Nothing can kill momentum more than sudden stoppages in a set. All agreeable and all handled with care and respect by all parties, but a momentum killer for sure.

Thirdly, and really totally, was the smoke that started coming out of the PA!! Then again out of the back-up PA! Which abruptly ended our evening with a splat. Just before the final knockout it began cutting out intermittently, all but destroying some otherwise fine performances. We FINALLY had them up dancing for 7 or 8 songs when WHAM! Show OVA!

The hosts were super cool and understanding, we got paid, and all was enjoyed. Fortunately, we performed for a couple of hours all totaled so the mission was at least mostly accomplished. But it left me with some crappy negative feelings that I am still in the wake of.

Whenever this happens the only thing that you can do is accept it. It was bad - OK now GET OVER IT! Seriously, the best thing you can do is try to laugh it off. At very least - get to the root causes of what went wrong and take whatever steps to ensure it doesn't happen again. Feel good? How bout if I tell you it WILL happen again!! Maybe not that same scenario but one equally bad ... or quite worse! Anyone who has performed can rattle off stories for you. So if you don't have the ability to bounce, ya better acquire that skill. Performing is not for the faint of heart.

Bad gigs happen, just like bad notes happen. So accept them, welcome them, laugh at them and MOVE ON. These are the stories that grow funny with the passing of time. You are earning your stripes so learn to at least tolerate them. One day you will be laughing as you tell the story of the gig where, "not one but TWO P.A.'s crashed and burned!". People LOVE hearing these tales.

What can be done?
Well in the case of equipment failure it's tough. The best thing to do is to have back-up gear of your critical components. Make sure you have GOOD power bars with surge protection. Another handy thing for total Armageddon is to bring an acoustic guitar so that at very worst you can go into campfire mode. Be ready! Bring flashlights, songbooks - whatever you need to entertain. I have an assembled 'gig box' that houses all my emergency items: Tape, mics, markers, flashlight, picks, guitar strings, slide, cable ties etc. It grows with each passing need, so the next time you are playing and you need something, remember it, and add it to your box.

The cool thing is, in the end if you can put on a good show, in light of these conditions, people can be MORE entertained. Remember, they are in it with you. They came to be entertained. They are bummed out when the power crashes. They will also appreciate your professionalism more if you can rebound and still put on a good show! Plus preparation is the key to not being nervous. If you know you have what you need, plus a plan in place you are golden. Turn it from "I saw this band, their PA blew up - it was hilarious!" to "I saw this band, their PA blew up, so they pulled out acoustics and rocked the place. We had a sing-along it was awesome!"

Nobody is happy about a bad gig, but you CAN learn to live with and eventually accept them. The worst thing you can do is get mad and start throwing blame around. Give it a smile and a hearty nod of acknowledgement - then throw its sorry ass out the door!