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Guitar Musician e-zine     01/04/06

In This Issue:

  "... I'd have to say that "Mr. Crowley" in my most memorable solo... I had spent hours trying to figure out a solo for the song ... Ozzy came in and said "it's crap - everything you're playing is crap" .. he told me to get in there and just play how I felt. He made me really nervous, so I just played anything. When I came back to listen to it, he said it was great.."       

                                                                 - Randy Rhoads / Ozzy Osbourne

Some Humor

1.  Two times a week, we go to a nice restaurant, have  a  little beverage, good food and  companionship.
     She goes on  Tuesdays, I go on Fridays.

2. We also sleep in  separate beds.
    Hers is in  California  and mine is in Texas.

3.  I take my wife everywhere.....
    but she  keeps finding her way back.

4. I asked my wife  where she wanted to go for our
     anniversary. "Somewhere I haven't  been in a long time!"
     she said.  So I suggested the kitchen.

5. We always hold  hands.
    If I let go, she shops.

6.  She has an electric blender, electric toaster and  electric
    bread  maker.
    She said "There are too many  gadgets and no place
    to sit down!" . So  I bought her an electric chair.

7. My wife told  me the car wasn't running well because
     there was water in the carburetor.
    I  asked where the car was; she told me "In the lake."

8. She got a mud pack and looked great for  two days.
     Then the mud fell off.

9. She ran after the garbage truck, yelling  "Am I too late
    for the  garbage?" .... The driver said "No, jump in!"

10.  Remember: Marriage is the number one cause of  divorce.

11. I married Miss Right. I just didn't  know her
      first name was  Always.

12. I haven't spoken to my wife in 18  months.
      I don't like to interrupt her.

13. The last fight was my fault  though.
     ! My wife asked  "What's on the TV?"
      I said  "Dust!"

Can't you just hear him say all of  these?
I love it.........this is the good old  days when humor didn't have to start with a four  letter word........  just
clean and simple  fun.

A Lesson For The Learning

Interested in guitar lessons? - Be sure and check out the guitar lessons offered by Andrew Koblick at Amazing Guitar

Click here for all products by ToneWorks.

ToneWorks AX3000G

Putting the power of Korg REMS modeling at your feet

By Brad Squiers

The AX3000G is a powerhouse floor pedal processor that gives you state-of-the-art amp, cab, and effects models in a live-performance-friendly format. Having had the chance to put the AX3000G through its paces, I found it to be a killer unit. It is a perfect tool for the guitarist who wants to record great-sounding tracks, especially in a home studio setting, and it has the operational ease that makes it perfect for live gig use.

ToneWorks AX3000G

The first thing I did with the unit was choose the right output mode. Because different amps have different effects on your sound, the AX3000G lets you select an output optimized for either an open-back U.S. combo, open-back British combo, or a closed-back stack. Since I was playing a Canadian-made combo, I chose a fourth setting for line output. This is an output for direct recording or for plugging into the power-amp input of any combo. I plugged into the effects return and was ready to go.

Tones for the choosing

The AX3000G comes with 96 ready-made presets that quickly give you a taste of its range and possibilities. I spent an hour just clicking through them. The presets give you plenty to work with as is-everything from 16 stages of drive to monster hi-gain sounds to amplified acoustics. All of the presets can be modified extensively by tweaking parameters, or you can just switch off effects used in the preset or switch on a new effect to modify their sound instantly.

Overall there are 72 amp, cab, and effects models to play with (11 amps, 16 cabs, 11 classic pedals, 11 delays, 11 modulation effects, 11 types of reverbs, and noise reduction), plus 96 memory locations for storing your modified or self-constructed presets. The effects are excellent in quality, and in addition to all the standard stuff, there are some pretty wild Korg creations that are unlike anything you normally hear.

Play it like an instrument

The expression pedal can be used in all the usual ways for volume and wah; but it can also be used for almost every parameter of every effect to vary it in real time. Choose an echo effect or a flanger, for example, and assign its "manual" parameter to the pedal, then you can use the pedal to vary the sweep of the flanger or the timing of the echo while you play. You can use the pedal to control the length of reverberation or the speed of a chorus, flanger, or phaser, and this dynamic use of an effect can transform normal solos into solos that bring down the house. In a sense, you play the AX3000G as if it were an instrument.

The AX3000G gives you another way to vary effects while you're playing. It's called the Expression Step Sequencer (ESS). It will automatically change parameters in either a fixed or random way. You program up to eight different values for an effect parameter and choose one of seven play modes including forward, backward, alternate 1/2, random, alternate 1/2 (one shot), or forward (one shot). When you trigger the ESS, it goes through change steps in the mode you have chosen. You can control the speed at which the changes take place, either with the expression pedal or the control switch. You can also choose the "smooth" setting to specify how smoothly the steps change. The ESS can give solos an added tonal richness and texture, and you can use it with pitch shift to create trills and synth-like arpeggios from one played note.

Smooth operator

Some devices that are this sophisticated are also difficult to program and operate. The AX3000G isn't. The amp and effects are selected with rotary knobs. The gain, volume, and EQ knobs also serve a number of other purposes when you are programming various effects, but the functions for each effect are listed above and below the knobs so you always know what you are doing without referring to a manual.

ToneWorks AX3000G

The AX3000G is also designed for easy stage use. The display is big, bright, and easy to read. The footswitches for turning effects on and off are labeled and have LEDs that light up when an effect is activated. A program footswitch performs numerous functions on the fly. For instance, it can be used to switch an effects block on or off or trigger the ESS.

Another onstage amenity is an easy-to-read tuner that automatically appears whenever you mute the AX3000G. There's also a little feature I especially like: the lock. With the key lock on, the knobs and buttons won't change, even when some joker reaches onto the stage and gives them a twist.

Hearing is believing

The AX3000G sounds are fantastic, and if you consider the unit's modest price tag, the sounds are amazingly fantastic. It features Korg's advanced REMS modeling technology, so the sounds have depth and complexity. The amp models are convincingly real and the effects are top quality-including the reverbs where lesser effects units fail.

ToneWorks AX3000G

I give the AX3000G a thumbs-up on all counts. It is designed for smooth onstage performance. It is a powerful studio tool. lt has more ways of altering the sound in real time than any other similar unit. It can be played immediately without any tweaking, but it offers deep editing to the tone freak who wants things just right. It makes operation easy with labeled controls, and includes software for editing and archiving on computer. It receives and transmits MIDI messages to control other devices. It has S/PDIF digital output for direct recording to a computer or digital recorder. It gives you all the great amps and effects sounds you could ever wish for, and it does all this for a relatively easy price. Besides all that, it's a lot of fun.

Features & Specs:

  • Korg REMS modeling technology
  • 72 classic and modern amp, cabinet, and effects models
  • Assignable control switch and expression pedal
  • 8-point LED pedal indicator for real-time parameter control
  • New ESS (Expression Step Sequencer)
  • 16 types of drive and amp models
  • 11 types of pre-effect cabinet, modulation, delay, and reverb modeled effects
  • 32 preset programs
  • 96 memory locations for user programs
  • Send/return jacks let you connect your favorite distortion pedal or other effect unit
  • MIDI in/out
  • Editor/librarian software (Windows and Macintosh are supported)
  • Up to 7 effects can be used simultaneously
  • Amp/line selector is included for maximum output versatility
  • Heavy-duty metal chassis
  • Autochromatic tuner with highly visible 8-point LED allows bypassed or muted (silent) tuning
  • Backlit LCD ensures easy visibility
  • Knob-based interface for quick, intuitive editing



Movable Rhythm Chords

Sal Harrison; Palm Bay, FL

Q: Can you teach me movable rhythm chords?

A: Movable bar chords are probably the most used chords in all music from Metal to Blues. Below are the four most popular forms and the next diagram that shows how they change names as you move them around the neck.



Memorize these chords and try to combine them into progressions. They are a bit difficult to master at first so don't get discouraged if they don't sound perfect the first few times you fret them.

Hope this helps!

Yours in Music
John McCarthy
Rock House

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In The Air

John Mayer reflects on his pop success, his beginnings as a blues-rock shredder, and the power of sophisticated chord structures

By Jeffrey Pepper Rodgers


Anyone familiar with John Mayer only through his Grammy-winning hit "Your Body Is a Wonderland," with its pop-reggae lilt and breathy lyrics, might be surprised to catch him in concert a few years later. At an early winter show in Rochester, New York, the young songwriter strides onstage with his Stevie Ray Vaughan Stratocaster and kicks off his new single "Bigger than My Body" with strutting power chords and swirling keyboard lines reminiscent of Genesis. Switch-hitting on electric and acoustic over the course of the show, Mayer reveals a sophisticated sense of fingerboard harmony as well as the chops of a genuine blues-rock shredder. But he's careful not to let guitar heroism get in the way of what has filled this arena with swooning teen and 20-something fans: the songs themselves, full of confident hooks and sincere personal revelations.

Mayer didn't set out to be a pop star. Growing up in Connecticut, he followed his infatuation with the electric guitar all the way to a short stint at Berklee College of Music. When his calling as a songwriter won out over the pursuit of guitar glory, he headed to Atlanta, Georgia, and began a remarkably quick ascent in the music business. His first CD, Inside Wants Out, came in 1999, followed in 2001 by the now triple-platinum Room for Squares (with "Your Body Is a Wonderland"), the live set Any Given Thursday, and now Heavier Things.

With a string of hits and his own Martin signature model at the age of 26, Mayer would have plenty of reasons to be cocky or self-satisfied about his music. But as this conversation reveals, he sees himself at the beginning of a long evolution as a player and songwriter.

Which came first, the desire to play the guitar or the desire to write songs?

Mayer The desire to play the guitar came years and years before�probably six years before.

And who specifically put that fire into you?

Mayer Well, I had a common curiosity about playing the guitar, but it was really locked in by Stevie Ray Vaughan. The thing is, I was never a blues fan. I was kind of a jazz fan�my dad used to have a couple of jazz records that I really liked. I imagine there was something primal in my love of [Vaughan's music], because until then there was no evidence that was the kind of music I liked.

So did that interest lead you to an electric guitar?

Mayer My dad rented me an acoustic guitar, and it took a very, very long time to get an electric. In fact I had to co-opt one of my brother's electric guitars, which he was very angry about, because it wasn't mine and I was monopolizing it. But then again he never played it.

Did any particular artists steer you toward songwriting?

Mayer Actually, Dave Matthews Band had a lot to do with it, as much as I don't love feeding the Dave Matthews comparison. It had to do with the idea that you can blend musical elements with song structure. Song structure is the easiest way to reach somebody�the B section and chorus and bridge. And then you also reach people with expressive instrumentation, like soloing.

I don't think of Dave Matthews Band as a jam band; that's a lazy description of what they do. I knew that the horn player, LeRoi [Moore], was playing some Coltrane lines and Frank Morgan lines, because I'd listened to a lot of horn players growing up. They figured out how to blend all they knew into making a song that affects people. It's a middle ground. I'm two records into trying to find a middle ground. I think I've come close on certain songs, and the other songs are just buying time.

On which songs do you think you come closest?

Mayer "Come Back to Bed" . . . "Clarity," off the new record, is a really important song for me musically. "City Love" was a cool song, "3x5." [both from Room for Squares]. I think "St. Patrick's Day" is one of the best songs I've ever written. I play that every night and it's like, I've got to keep writing with this amount of dedication and feel.

It's really easy to write two chords, but it's a lot harder and more rewarding to write a passage of chords. The reason Jimi Hendrix's "Little Wing" means so much to people has a lot to do with the fact that it's a 23-bar progression. No one ever really thinks about it like that. In some ways the more you put into something chordally, the more you get out of it, until you put in one chord too many�and you get nothing out of it.

Which artists inspired you lyrically?

Mayer I remember hearing Ben Folds Five . . . I think Ben Folds Five was where I learned that there's a whole new way you can write and sing lyrics, which is the kind of conversational, anti-Hallmark card side. Like something being brutally affecting by how simple it is, by how affected it isn't.

What was the Atlanta scene like when you were starting out?

Mayer It was a community, and I'm sure it still is. Everybody's music is kind of exposed to everyone else's music. It's all very open armed. I miss it too�I miss seeing the same people twice a month, asking them how they are doing and trading CDs with them.

Do you travel too much now to get that community feeling?

Mayer Well, you have to create it. Wherever I go now, I am responsible for setting the tone. I'm glad that I came up playing places like Eddie's Attic [in Decatur, Georgia], where I learned what the tone should be, and now I can set that tone around me so that nobody gets confused into thinking I'm a diva or a prima donna. I came up playing places without dressing rooms, trading guitars with people to try out before you get onstage, and eating a salad with somebody before they open for you or before you open for them. That's what I feel most comfortable with. When an opener shows up, I know how to make them feel good because I know how people made me feel good. Eddie Owen [the original owner of Eddie's Attic] used to come out and introduce me every night, and it made a huge difference. So it all gets traced back.

You mentioned "Come Back to Bed," from the new CD. At your show the other night, that was the song where you stretched out the most on guitar. You're obviously capable of extended soloing, but you don't do it much onstage. Do you restrain yourself?

Mayer I think you have to find a balance. There was a certain time that I got to in my playing where I shut off my ears to superfluous blues playing. The thing about playing blues is that the minute it becomes self-indulgent, the minute you repeat yourself, the minute you are just doing it because you love doing it, everybody can hear it�and I don't ever want to hit that point. There's nothing I'd love more than to solo all night�it would be great. But it doesn't hold people, and the last thing I want is to have people refuse that trust.

In your guitar parts, acoustic and electric, you obviously pay close attention to the voice leading and bass lines and rarely play standard chord fingerings. Is that a function of your blues and jazz studies?

Mayer Yeah. I definitely play the acoustic guitar like an electric guitar, on the left hand. The thing about learning blues is that it opens up the guitar neck. It stops being about the four frets next to the nut. I can solo in six positions for any key, and when you learn that, you learn the landscape of the guitar. So I took that into playing the acoustic.

It's funny, because you really are only as good a songwriter as you are a guitar player or instrumentalist. Well, what about Bob Dylan? Bob Dylan only plays three or four chords, and he made that work for himself. But there are so many musicians that come up, so many girls with great voices and great lyrics, and they play their own instruments and they haven't learned them enough. All they can do is work with four or five chords. That's why I am really lucky and eternally grateful that the order of events happened in the way they did: I learned the neck up and down, and then when it came time to sing over stuff, I had a world of stuff I could throw at my voice to sing over.

On the acoustic side, the new song "Daughters" stands out, with those three-note jazz chords up the neck.
Mayer That song was really frustrating for me, because I wanted something else to happen with it. I used to continually play the head of that song as a rhythm part, and it was just chords�there wasn't any real voice leading, and I remember just hating myself for it. It took me a long time to realize that that's the sound of the tune. It actually does have its own sound. When I launch into "Daughters" in concert, everybody knows it's "Daughters." There's no debate.

"Daughters" sounds really easy but in fact it's really hard, because there's a lot of string muting. One thing I don't like is the arbitrary open strings all the time. It's like, OK, you just played six chords in that progression, and on two of them, that open note doesn't make any sense at all.

"Bigger than My Body" sounds like it would be a fun groove to play.

Mayer It is fun to play. It's fun to be the "Wonderland" guy and then have my first single off the [new] record be something that's kind of unexpected. Of course, I had only released 12 songs up until this record, so what is there truly to expect? But you'd be surprised at what people expect off of so little, so it was interesting to play with people's perceptions of who I was.

In concert, you come off much more as a band musician than as a solo singer-songwriter with a backup group put together for the occasion.

Mayer I take that as a huge compliment. I do want to be that. You just get more out of a band when you invite people to contribute. The one thing that bores me right now in music is the four-bar repeating guitar figure that turns into the drum fill into the song, the guitar figure continues, this time with the bass, the vocals go over
that . . . That really bores me, and I really like a song like "Home Life" or "Clarity" where my guitar doesn't come in for quite a while. It doesn't come in for four measures sometimes.

Records for me are an experimentation. They're sounding it out on tape for people to hear. So there are ideas that have come out on this record, and some of them are more successful than others, but I think the end result is fun to listen to. I think on my next record, I would like to stick a little bit closer to the acoustic. I've learned how much I do like the acoustic.

Did it take a while to feel as if you had a voice on the acoustic?

Mayer Yeah, and I still don't know if I do. I probably do, but I don't think about it too much. I think my playing got so much stronger when I was making this record. [Producer] Jack Joseph Puig really pushed me to work my hardest at being more precise on the acoustic guitar. I have a real problem with being clumsy, like just slamming the shit out of the acoustic. There's a different kind of precision than the precision of playing an electric. It does take a certain energy to get a sound out of the acoustic guitar, but you have to harness it in all the right places, and I find that challenge really daunting sometimes. It's like trying to pour a bucket of water into a bottle. I'd always ignored that, and during the making of this record, I got bent in shape about making the most of an acoustic guitar on a track.

Do your songs always start with a riff or idea on the guitar?

Mayer Yeah, pretty much. I don't know the last time I sat down and wrote a song on a piece of paper and just sang it. I don't think I ever did. What happens is I come up with a little guitar line or a series of guitar chords that take me . . . well, it sounds kind of new agey, but it puts me in a place. Is it night? Is it day? And I
usually just write the song exactly as I see it in my head. If the song has an attitude, then I want the lyrics to have an attitude. If the song is sad, then I want the lyrics to be sad. At that point, the responsibility is to make everything get along.

I understand that on the new CD, you often recorded your ideas as they first popped up. What was that process like?

Mayer It was great because I never had the opportunity to second-guess myself. So everything you hear is not a second or third idea�or not even the first that won out over two other ideas. There are no eraser marks on this record, which I really like because I know that's the way they're supposed to be, and I trust my first instinct pretty well now. I think my next record is going to involve a bit more of taking two or three good song ideas and loading them up into one song. But this record is defined by a kind of hit-the-ground-running style of writing.

Were you in a studio when you recorded these ideas?

Mayer A lot of the sonic elements are straight off the demos I made in my apartment, recording on Pro Tools. The guitar lines from "New Deep" and "Bigger than My Body" were from the demos. So I never even got the chance to record some of these ideas knowing that they were going to be on a record.

And the drums were then matched to your existing guitar parts?

Mayer Well, no, they were already locked onto drums, because I had put them on loops. There's a certain place the guitar can go when there's a rhythm behind it. Once the rhythm is being taken care of by an actual rhythmic or percussive element, then the guitar playing doesn't have to cover that percussive side. I have 100 percent to devote to other things; I don't have to spend 40 percent of a song's energy on making it feel like there's a pulse.
Because the songs were written around static loops, we used a lot of loop elements from the demo [on the record]. That was a bit interesting. But every record I make will always have its set of challenges.

Your songs use a lot of major-seventh chords, minor sevens, those kinds of sounds, yet you manage to avoid sounding too loungey.

Mayer There's a way you can make a major seven work for you, just like there's a way you can make a minor four work for you. There's a way it can be done, but I really had to lay off the loungey thing [on Heavier Things], because there were some other people this year who really exploited it. I also had to lay off the bouncy thing, because so many people have picked up the bouncy thing as well. That's become the radio sound now.

So I gather you pay attention to what's in the air in pop music.

Mayer Absolutely. It's all the idea of relativity. When you put something out, I think half of [its appeal] is its relativity to whatever else is around it. And I just don't like being sand at the beach.

Recommended Listening - A Must For Your Collection!

Neil Young, Prairie Wind
By Mike Thomas
With a rich legacy that spans four decades and a vast and varied volume of work that�s spawned legions of imitators, Neil Young has nothing left to prove. But the prolific folk-rocker has plenty left to say. Primarily in reflective acoustic mode on Prairie Wind, the Canadian-bred songwriter evokes the rugged Manitoba prairie of his early youth with palpable wonder leavened by adult awareness of mortality (the title track) and the unceremonious passage of a simpler, more innocent time (�It�s a Dream�). Backed by longtime collaborators Ben Keith (Dobro, pedal steel, slide guitar) and Spooner Oldham (keyboards), among others, Young�s spare, elegant acoustic guitar and harmonica work and often-fragile vocals conjure a spacious, starkly atmospheric vibe that allows complex emotions to seep through. Nestled at the album�s thematic core is �This Old Guitar,� a gently swaying, almost whispered prayer of gratitude for the sustaining muse that�s carried a veteran artist through good times and bad. At turns unabashedly sentimental, cranky, and gracious, the extended ten-song meditation on what endures in life concludes with a moving, humanistic hymn, �When God Made Me,� another transcendent moment in a career that�s provided us with so many. (Reprise,

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