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Hal Leonard 100 Lessons Review

byline picby Pappy

My favorite kind of instruction book is one that gives you snippets of information – a quick technique to focus on, instructions on how to do it, and then a couple of bars of music to practice on. I think that this gives the player enough illumination on the technique and practice to get decent at it, but also gives them the freedom to go off in their own direction.

With this in mind, it’s not hard to see why I like Hal Leonard’s 100 Lessons books so much. HL sent me two to review: 100 Country Lessons and 100 Jazz Lessons and both are large books with about 200 pages of instruction each, and both also come with two CDs each.

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The books are broken down into 100 different lessons covering specific topics. I wouldn’t say they are organized by difficulty, nor would I say you should progress from the front of the book to the back. Rather, I think the best approach is to look at the table of contents, see what sounds interesting to you, and start that particular lesson. Almost every lesson is only two pages, so digesting the actual instruction is easy enough to handle, and then with a bit of practice, you’ll have the licks down as well.

Regarding picking your lessons, my approach has always been “lessons by necessity.” When I have a sound in my head that I want to incorporate in my writing, but don’t know how to do it, I’ll track down the information and work on it until I can get that sound out of my head and into my amp. I’m definitely not a “technique for technique’s sake,” type of guy. That’s another reason I really like these books. When a player just wants to learn how to bend behind the nut, they should be able to easily find a lesson to get the to the point where they can do it and in the Country Lessons book, it’s lesson number 77.

I like short lessons, personally. Usually it means that the information is easy to grasp and gets you to the playing portion quickly. When you add just a few bars to learn, there’s a good chance players will stick with the lesson to completion and not be so frustrated they give up. In this regard, these books walk the line of giving you enough information to grasp the idea or technique, but not so much you’re either drowning in words, or frustrated by the music portion perfectly.

All of the lessons are written in standard notation and tab, with chord boxes as well. And, while the books aren’t dedicated to teaching you music theory, they do go out of their way to let you know what kind of scale you’re using, what notes you’re using or moving to, and (if you pay attention), you’ll begin to see the patterns emerge which will help out your own writing.

The included CDs cover all the musical parts of the books, giving you a better chance of nailing what the book was trying to teach you. For those that don’t read music and aren’t able to space out notes the way they’re written because TAB is all you know, this addition is wildly beneficial.

The series that these books belong to (the Goldmine Series) is something I consider essential to my bookshelf. To date there are five books (Blues, Jazz, Country, Rock, and Acoustic) and since they all have individual lessons broken down easily (though there are certainly challenging lessons), I can think of what I want, reference the book, probably find a quick lesson about it, and soon be incorporating it into my writing. The goal of the series is not to have you parrot off songs or even licks necessarily, but rather give you lessons to introduce and reinforce techniques to use on your own. They’re just teaching you how to walk – where you go is all up to you.

Seriously, these books are invaluable to me as a player and writer and I’ll be tracking down the remaining three books on my own because I think they’re just worth it.

They retail for $24.99 and can be found at your local music stores or online.  Click HERE for the 100 Country Lessons book and HERE for the 100 Jazz Lessons book.

byline picby Pappy

My favorite kind of instruction book is one that gives you snippets of information – a quick technique to focus on, instructions on how to do it, and then a couple of bars of music to practice on. …

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Dean ML “Roots” Ltd Edition Dimebag Tribute Guitar


So there have probably been a few too many posthumous Dimebag tribute products released over the years but Dean Guitars have gone to extra lengths with the Dean ML “Roots” guitar to try and make it have a little more meaning to fans of Dimebag Darrell by incorporating an Oak inlay of a razor blade, like Dime used to wear around his neck, made from a tree on his property. Check out the video above to see how the final guitars look, unfortunately if you want one if these guitars you are going to have to offer someone a lot of money as the entire run of 200 sold out in a day.


So there have probably been a few too many posthumous Dimebag tribute products released over the years but Dean Guitars have gone to extra lengths with the Dean ML “Roots” guitar to try and make it have a little more …

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Korg announce the SDD-3000 Programmable Digital Delay Pedal

Korg SDD-3000 programmable digital delay
It seems Korg are moving their attention slightly toward guitarists lately with the Nuvibe and Pandora stomp boxes but they are probably better known for pretty average multi effects rather than dedicated pedals. Having said that Korg have just announced the SDD-3000 Programmable Digital Delay pedal, a pedal version of a classic rack delay unit from the early 80′s.

“The SDD-3000 PEDAL packs all of the SDD-3000′s functionality into a convenient pedal unit. Featuring a pre-amp with ample headroom, a filter circuit that modifies the feedback sound, and modulation waveforms that allow a diverse array of delay effects, it covers all of the SDD-3000′s important elements. In addition to specifications that will satisfy SDD-3000 users, it provides many new functions such as eight delay types, long delay times up to 4,000 milliseconds, selectable modulation waveforms, stereo input/output, and MIDI compatibility. The user interface has also been updated for dramatically improved ease of use.”

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Now I know there are a lot of people unfamiliar with the original unit who will scoff at the fact it is a digitally delay because they want a warm analogue delay tone or realistic tape echo emulation but this unit is what the Edge from U2 has been using (well the rack version) for years until this pedal was released and now uses this instead. Check out this video of the edge’s guitar tech Dallas Schoo talking about the SDD-3000:

For more info on the specs and features of the SDD-3000 pedal head over to the Korg website.

Korg SDD-3000 programmable digital delay
It seems Korg are moving their attention slightly toward guitarists lately with the Nuvibe and Pandora stomp boxes but they are probably better known for pretty average multi effects rather than dedicated pedals. Having said that Korg have just announced …

Click here to comment

New PRS S2 Semi-hollow Guitars

  • S2 Custom 22 Semi-Hollow
  • S2 Mira Semi-Hollow
  • S2 Singlecut Semi-Hollow

PRS Guitars is expanding its US made S2 Series of affordable but quality guitars with the inclusion of 3 new Semi-hollow designs, the S2 Custom 22 Semi-Hollow, S2 Mira Semi-Hollow and S2 Singlecut Semi-Hollow. PRS only just announced a small batch run of premium Semi-hollow Custom 24 guitars a couple of weeks ago so I’m thinking that the S2 guitars turned out so good they decided to do a short run of their most expensive guitar once the process had been fully set up. The S2 Custom 22 and S2 Singlecut have a suggested retail price of $1579 while the S2 Mira is available with dot inlays for $1269 or the traditional PRS bird inlays for $1389.

Check out the PRS website for more information on the entire PRS S2 series.

PRS Guitars is expanding its US made S2 Series of affordable but quality guitars with the inclusion of 3 new Semi-hollow designs, the S2 Custom 22 Semi-Hollow, S2 Mira Semi-Hollow and S2 Singlecut Semi-Hollow. PRS only just announced a small

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Mesa/Boogie announce the CabClone – passive Cabinet Simulator/Speaker+Mic alternative with a built-in amp load


Well that’s one of the longest titles I’ve ever posted but I felt I needed to really explain what the CabClone was from the outset as this is a first for Mesa/Boogie. Let’s just go over it again, the Mesa/Boogie CabClone is a passive Cabinet Simulator/Speaker+Mic alternative with a built-in amp load. This means you can use the CabClone connected to your amp speaker out and it will act as a load box and cabinet emulator to run directly into a mixing desk or into your computer audio interface for silent recording. Mesa/Boogie say that the CabClone is also “…a Compensated Headphone Driver that delivers a great sounding, great feeling, headphone-friendly version of your amp’s Tone”.

Now say you want to record via the CabClone but you still want to hear your amp through your actual speaker cabinet while you record, well Mesa have thought about that too and included a Thru jack. You can also Mic the speaker cabinet and capture both at the same time. “It also offers options for live playing, whether you need to play ‘cab-less’ (direct) or you want both a direct sound AND a mic’d sound for your monitors, in-ear monitors or Front of House.”

There are 3 different cabinet emulation types to choose from Closed back, Open back and Vintage cabinet and there is also a ground lift control should you need it.

Mesa/Boogie CabClone

http://www.mesaboogie.com/Product_Info/pedals/cab-clone-simulator.html


Well that’s one of the longest titles I’ve ever posted but I felt I needed to really explain what the CabClone was from the outset as this is a first for Mesa/Boogie. Let’s just go over it again, the Mesa/Boogie …

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New iOS Amp Modelling App “ToneStack” from Yonac


I know you’re probably thinking, “another amp sim app?!”, yes another and it’s good, really good! I’ve been testing ToneStack by Yonac Software on my iPad using my iRig HD interface and the first thing I noticed was how little noise you get from the amps, plus there is pretty much zero latency. I did change the audio settings to highest quality but left the buffer at 256ms as 128ms caused issues on my iPad with some of the more complex amp/effects chains. My iPad is a couple of years old, newer iPads with more grunt will no doubt not have a problem.

The UI will be pretty familiar if you have used amp sims before but even if you haven’t it is very simple to use, I suggest checking out the multitude of presets first which demonstrate all of the stock amps with various cabs, mics and effects and how they can be chained together. One of the most interesting effects is an splitter pedal which allows you to set up a stereo chain with 2 sets of amp/cab/effects panned however you wish. I haven’t seen this in an iOS Amp Modelling App before and it means you can go all Bonamassa with your rig!

There are heaps of great effects included but also a lot of extra effects available as in-app purchases should you wish to expand, this goes for Amps & Cabs too. The included amps will cover pretty much all bases but there may be a specific sound you are after that you get from one of their add ons. I will record a demo soon for the Guitar Noize YouTube channel to show you just how great this app sounds.

“Yonac Software is pleased to announce the release of ToneStack, now available on the iTunes App Store. ToneStack is the ultimate in signal processing: it brings the best variety of amps & FX, the latest advancements in modeling technology, and an unbelievably powerful yet simple interface to iOS.
“Because ToneStack uses our “Virtual Circuit” technology, each ToneStack unit is the digital mirror image of a real analog topology,” says engineer and guitar player Jim Yonac. “The result is a warm, responsive tone with the natural behavior you find in analog units.” ToneStack comes with 6 classic amps & cabs and 20 powerful FX (with over 68 additional units available for in-app purchase). ToneStack also offers the ultimate in signal chain versatility – use up to 64 units simultaneously (device CPU limitations apply). With ToneStack’s ABY units, the signal can be split anywhere in the chain. ToneStack is universal and available in the App Store for a limited- time introductory price of $4.99.”

$4.99 is an incredible deal by the way, I’d snap that up quick before the price rises. Here are some of the features of this app:

  • Units modeled after real-life topologies
  • ABY: split signal anywhere, use dual amp setups, blend, pan or switch FX chains & more
  • Complete collection: 24 amps & cabs, 70 FX, with stompboxes & rack-units and more!
  • 64 simultaneous amps & FX
  • Independent amps & cabs
  • 3 mics per cab w/ distance & position setting
  • 8-Track recorder w/ 2 tracks free
  • Tapedeck w/ punch looping, sample-accurate rec, pitch/time manipulation, FX send & more
  • Tuner w/ permanent & fullscreen modes
  • Metronome, tap tempo, settable time signature
  • BPM sync mods & LFOs
  • onSTAGE mode w/ quick preset load & FX toggle
  • Unlimited banks & presets; easy preset sharing & more
  • Extremely powerful MIDI: control any amp or FX parameter
  • Easy MIDI Learn
  • MIDI prog changes + bank & preset up/down
  • Audiobus: input, FX, output, state-saving
  • Inter-App Audio FX
  • Audio copy/paste, email, WiFi, iTunes sharing
  • iOS compatible USB or headphone jack interfaces (USB recommended for best audio quality)


I know you’re probably thinking, “another amp sim app?!”, yes another and it’s good, really good! I’ve been testing ToneStack by Yonac Software on my iPad using my iRig HD interface and the first thing I noticed was how little …

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Carl Verheyen Announces New Album ‘Mustang Run’

I’m really looking forward to checking out this record, I’ve been enjoying the teaser videos that Carl has been posting to YouTube for a while and the fact that he says this is the guitar album he has been meaning to make for a while is exciting news! In case you can’t read the title above, Carl Verheyen has released his new CD ‘Mustang Run’.

“My goal was to break out of the mould of Carl Verheyen Band CDs and do a progressive instrumental album. I wanted the opportunity to weave thick textures of sound using dozens of instruments and tones. My motivation was the sheer joy of hearing those sounds in the air!” says Verheyen.

carl verheyen mustang run

‘Mustang Run’ features performances by some extraordinary musicians, which includes Simon Phillips, Chad Wackerman, Jerry Goodman, Bill Evans, Jimmy Johnson, Stuart Hamm, and Gregg Bissonette. In regards to the assortment of legendary music artists that grace his new release, Carl explains, “My previous CD called ‘Trading 8s’ was a collaboration with some of my guitar player friends. I had Robben Ford, Joe Bonamassa, Steve Morse, Scott Henderson, Albert Lee and Rick Vito trading solos with me. On ‘Mustang Run’ I wanted that inspiration to come from the rhythm section, so I called different bass players and drummers to suit the songs. I love to play with musicians that I have a deep musical relationship with, because the studio scene in LA breeds hundreds of ‘casual’ musical relationships. The great players on ‘Mustang Run’ are all friends that I’ve known and performed with for years.”

In support of Carl’s new CD release, he will be touring Europe in the fall 2014. His band will feature bass virtuoso Stu Hamm (Joe Satriani, Steve Vai, Ritchie Kotzen, Billy Sheehan, Jeff Berlin), who is featured on ‘Mustang Run’, and master drummer/percussionist John Mader (Joe Satriani, Booker T, Electronic Arts’ “The Sims”, Tony award winners “Rent”, “Lion King” and “Wicked”).

For more info: http://www.carlverheyen.com
http://www.carlverheyen.com/store-cds/

I’m really looking forward to checking out this record, I’ve been enjoying the teaser videos that Carl has been posting to YouTube for a while and the fact that he says this is the guitar album he has been meaning …

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Gear Matters

byline picby Pappy

Guitarists everywhere like to inform each other with condescending smiles that what younger guitarists are buying – the gear that they so strongly believe will make them better players – is all for naught.

“Gear doesn’t make the player.”

“Tone is in the fingers.”

“You’ll never sound like X, even if you played through their rig.”

And on and on and on.

Bull.

Well, perhaps not entirely bull, but there’s still a conversation that needs to happen here because all the black and white mentality is getting a little irritating.  There is OBVIOUSLY something to be said about gear and the quality of it if companies are depending on selling it in order to keep surviving in this tough economy.

Guitarists are saying that the gear doesn’t matter.  Companies are saying that it does.

Guitarists say that you can pick a great guitarist – whichever guitarist if your favorite, go ahead and fill in the blank – and put them in a room with a Squier Bullet Strat and some lame-o (almost always referenced as a solid state for some reason) amp and they would sound exactly like they do every time they play on stage in arenas.

So why don’t they do just that?

It would certainly save on the touring budget.  Imagine if, with the price of just one nice guitar (we’ll say $1,200.00) you can buy rigs for all four corners of the earth to tour with.

So how come that doesn’t happen?

Because gear matters.  How could it not?  Think about any boutique builder you’ve ever read about talking about wood.  They knock on it and listen to how it sings, they sift through piles for the magic piece, and then they lovingly take a raw hunk of timber and turn it into your instrument – your vessel of artistic expression – and why did they do all that work if none of it mattered?  Why not instead go to the local Home Depot, buy some thick plywood, and build a guitar from that?

Because it matters!

Now, I don’t mean to say guitarists aren’t right to some extent, but they’re going about it all wrong.  This whole “there is no magic bullet, and you’ll never sound like your inspiration,” is a real downer.  You know what other hard truths are out there for everyone?

1)  You aren’t owed a sexually attractive mate just because you’re a nice person.

2)  There is no Santa.

3)  The promotion will probably go to someone else, and it probably won’t be based on merit.

4)  There will probably be no windfall of karma turning your disappointing life toiling away doing the right things into something amazing like a modern day Count of Monte Cristo (minus the whole revenge thing).

But that doesn’t mean you just go around telling people these things.  These are depressing facts that nobody NEEDS to say because they serve zero purpose whatsoever.  All that matters is that right now someone’s happy and you hold the pin that could prick their balloon of happiness.  Popping the balloon serves no purpose and makes nobody any happier, so why even consider it?

So maybe the overdrive pedal that the person bought was ridiculously overpriced to you.  Did they use YOUR money to buy it?  Are you impacted by this transaction in ANY way? And yes, it probably is a ridiculously overhyped pedal that the player will probably give up on in three weeks when they realize it didn’t magically turn them into whoever they were trying to be.  Doesn’t that just mean they had three weeks of happiness?

Even if it was all a sham/racket/scam/shakedown/rip-off/sucker game, or just plain flim flam, what would be the point of telling someone that it doesn’t matter?

Consider the placebo effect: Placebos are drugs that aren’t drugs.  They’re fake drugs – sugar pills in most cases – that are given as a control in drug experiments, but they have been shown time and time again to WORK.  How crazy is that?  WebMD – the ultimate source for finding out you’re dying right this very second, and probably from cancer – says that placebos have been effective for depression, menopause, pain, sleep disorders, and even irritable bowel syndrome.  Real physical problems with real physical symptoms, yet fake drugs are sometimes able to shake the people free and give them back their normal life.

So say you have a friend who buys something that you know is just a placebo for guitar.  A signature guitar that you know won’t make them sound like the signature artist, or the pedal that was bought second-hand at 400% the original asking price (they would have bought direct, but there was a huge wait and the Internet says that the batch from #35 to number #300 were magical in some way and, wouldn’t you know it, they bought #299!).  You know because you’ve been around the block a time or two and know that it’s all smoke and mirrors and you want to tell your friend that they wasted their money and it doesn’t matter, but you pause and consider why.  Failing to figure out one solitary good reason to rain on someone you love’s parade, you let them go and they go crazy with the piece of gear.  It could be the missing link in their signal chain that makes them feel complete.  It could be used in a way not necessarily intended, like when someone plays reggae on a Dimebag Darrel ML.  It could make them experiment like crazy to find that hidden tone.  It could make them dive into guitar only to come up for air WEEKS later, but they were playing and having fun the whole time.  They may have even gotten a bit better with all that practice.  At the very least they learned a bit more about gear before they decided to turn the piece around on eBay.

My point is this: even if you know it’s a placebo – even if it really is all snake oil, who is getting harmed?  Nobody.  But who is benefiting?  Your pal, the guitarist, the people that make the gear, and anyone who benefits from people playing guitar more from crowds to the family members forced to endure their playing.

I’m not saying there isn’t such a thing as individual playing dynamics, nor am I saying that there is a magic substitute for practicing, but I am saying that, at the very least, gear is inspirational.  Wanting more gear keeps us working, wanting it to sound the best possible keeps us practicing, and not wanting to have wasted our money keeps us playing it.  We are inspired by aesthetics, we are inspired by sound, and we are inspired by hype.  As cool guitarists, we act jaded and unexcited about so many things, but this stuff is exciting!

Gear matters, people!  It may not matter in the way you think it does, but it matters.  There is no need to go around popping people’s balloons.  There is no reason to be that prick that ruins someone’s day.  Because chances are you are looked up to and you’ll take away any magic that the gear may have had.  Instead, when someone pulls you to their board, clicks on their pedal, or strums their open A and looks at you with that maniacal grin because they just know you’re going to hear the difference, embrace it!  Tell them you hear something!  Have they been practicing?  Oh, it’s JUST THE GEAR that made the improvement in tone?  Well rock on, guitarist friend!

So long as they keep playing, right?

byline picby Pappy

Guitarists everywhere like to inform each other with condescending smiles that what younger guitarists are buying – the gear that they so strongly believe will make them better players – is all for naught.

“Gear doesn’t make the …

Click here to comment

Van Weelden – Royal Overdrive pedal

van weelden royal overdrive
Where have I been to not know about the Van Weelden Royal Overdrive pedal? Not only did this pedal start shipping in January it has already won a best pedal of 2013 by Dutch Magazine Gitarist!

In case you haven’t heard of Van Weelden they are an Amplification company very popular with Joe Bonamassa. Here is a video of Joe talking about his Van Weelden Twinkleland which is a great sounding Dumble-esque amp.

Here is a little clip of Allen Hinds testing the pedal:

I don’t have any details but I think you can work it out from the photo above, it has 2 switchable modes, a 3 way bright switch and a gain boost switch then it has a foot-switchable Mid Boost and the same kind of controls you would see on an amp including Treble, Middle & Bass control and a Presence control.

The current Van Weelden website seems to be undergoing a transformation at the moment so keep an eye on their Facebook page for announcements.

van weelden royal overdrive
Where have I been to not know about the Van Weelden Royal Overdrive pedal? Not only did this pedal start shipping in January it has already won a best pedal of 2013 by Dutch Magazine Gitarist!

In case you haven’t …

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Eastman Thinline T486-RB Ray Benson Signature Model

Eastman Thinline T486-RB
Press Release
Pomona, CA – June 30, 2014 – Eastman Guitars has collaborated with legendary guitarist Ray Benson on a signature and custom model guitar, the Thinline T486-RB, faithfully built to his exact specifications. A nine-time Grammy Award winner, founder and frontman of the revered country western swing band Asleep At The Wheel, Benson has released more than 25 studio and live albums over the last four decades. As a producer, Benson has worked with an impressive who’s-who A-list including Willie Nelson, Aaron Neville, Brad Paisley, Trace Adkins, Merle Haggard, Carolyn Wonderland, and Vince Gill. His latest project, a solo album titled A Little Piece, was released earlier this year.

The T486-RB Ray Benson signature model is a double cutaway featuring deluxe laminate top, back and sides, with ivoroid binding throughout the body, neck and headstock. The maple neck features an ebony fingerboard adorned with standard pearl block inlays. The guitar is a 24¾” scale length between the 1¾” bone nut and nickel Gotoh tunomatic bridge. Additional nickel hardware includes Gotoh tuners. Handwound Lollar pickups include an El Rayo at the neck with a Low Wound Imperial at the bridge. Nickel control knobs feature one volume, one tone, and 3-way selector switch. The guitar is completed with a custom-sized black pickguard and is finished in a transparent red satin with a custom designed “RB” logo branded between the trapeze style tailpiece. D’Addario strings and hardshell case included.

Ray Benson will be visiting the Eastman Guitars booth (#1016) on Thursday, July 17 and Friday, July 18 from 12:00pm to 2:00pm during Summer NAMM in Nashville.

Eastman Thinline T486-RB
Press Release
Pomona, CA – June 30, 2014 – Eastman Guitars has collaborated with legendary guitarist Ray Benson on a signature and custom model guitar, the Thinline T486-RB, faithfully built to his exact specifications. A nine-time Grammy Award winner, founder …

Click here to comment

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