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Guitar Musician e-zine     05/31/2006

In This Issue:

  "Back in those days, all us skinny white British kids were trying to look cool and sound black. And there was Hendrix, the ultimate in black cool. Everything he did was natural and perfect."

                         - Ronnie Wood - Guitar - Rolling Stones - was Hendrix's roommate early on

Some Humor

Another Dumb Blonde


  A young ventriloquist is touring the clubs and one night he's doing a show in a small club in a small town in Arkansas. With his dummy on his knee, he's going through his usual dumb blonde jokes when a blonde woman in the fourth row stands on her chair and starts shouting: ''I've heard enough of your stupid blonde jokes. What makes you think you can stereotype women that way? What does the color of a person's hair have to do with her worth as a human being? It's guys like you who keep women like me from being respected at work and in the community and from reaching our full potential as a person, because you and your kind continue to perpetuate discrimination against, not only blondes, but women in general...and all in the name of humor!''

The ventriloquist is embarrassed and begins to apologize, when the blonde yells, ''You stay out of this, mister! I'm talking to that little jerk on your knee!''


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 TASCAM.

Tascam GigaStudio 3.0

The world's greatest sampler

By Dave Schwann

The world's greatest sampler

These days sampling has made it possible for musicians to have virtually any instrument sound in the world at their fingertips. Most hardware samplers, however, are limited in the size and quality of their sounds by limited memory and storage. Tascam's GigaStudio 3.0 is a computer-based sampling instrument that has the advantage of residing in an open-ended, expandable platform. Advanced streaming technology allows the software to play samples directly off your hard drive for sounds of extraordinary depth and detail.

GigaStudio 3.0 is available either in the standalone Orchestra version or as a plug-in Giga Virtual Instrument (GVI). The GVI version includes GS3 Orchestra's unlimited polyphony, advanced MIDI functions, and GigaPulse convolution. If you want to create your own sample libraries from scratch, editing, and effects capability, GS3 Orchestra is the right choice. For musicians or sound designers who make extensive use of samples, the power and flexibility of GS3 are nearly irresistible.

Wicked fast response

GS3 has been reengineered down to the kernel level to eliminate latency and jitter, resulting in virtually instantaneous response. Other new features include unlimited polyphony (in the Orchestra version), ReWire routing capability, gigabytes of free samples, an enhanced DSP section, VST plug-in hosting, Realtime Surround Sound Convolution, and a lot more.

Gigastudio 3.0
Tascam Gigastudio 3.0 (three flavors:
Solo, Orchestra, Ensemble).

GS3's greatest strength is in its impeccable sample quality. Most samplers measure their storage capacity in megabytes�GS3's massive storage specs let you experience the stunning realism of multigigabyte samples. Take the GigaPiano II piano sample, for instance. Most samplers have a piano sound that's made by recording various keys and extrapolating the sound across the keyboard. GS3's GigaPiano II is sampled at every key for the utmost realism. And with seven levels of velocity, the response and dynamics are astounding. Whopping samples of up to 512GB in length are possible--the first few seconds are loaded into RAM for instant playback, while the remainder streams off your hard drive.

ReWire compatibility allows easy integration with most popular sequencing/recording software, including Cubase, Nuendo, Sonar, and Pro Tools. GigaStudio instruments that have been ReWired show up as instruments in your DAW's digital mixer.

The DSP Station, GS3 Orchestra's mixing and effects interface, has been expanded to 128 channels with 32 group faders and enhanced processing with 4-band EQ and compression.

Convolute your sound

GS3 includes GigaPulse�a reverb, mic modeling, instrument resonance modeling, and Convolution processing program. Convolution is based on frequency sweeps taken from recordings made in great concert halls and various other physical spaces. You can then apply those same frequency sweeps to your own samples.

GigaPulse also lets you apply the body resonance of various instruments to your samples or mix-and-match instruments and effects to make entirely new creations. You can, for instance, give your Martin guitar the resonance characteristics of a Steinway D grand piano.

Numerous GigaStudio libraries were sampled from multiple microphone positions. You can mix-and-match these various samples to produce sounds that have a breathtaking spaciousness and depth-of-field. You can also output different mic models to multiple outputs for dramatic 5.1 surround sound production. These effects are only possible with a software-based system, as no hardware system has the processing power and flexibility needed to produce them.

Sample your world

Gigastudio 3.0 Orchestra
Gigastudio 3.0 Orchestra (detail).

GS3 now offers sample recording and editing. You can sample vinyl LPs or musical instruments, or capture urban and natural environmental sounds to use in your creations. A Quick Edit window lets you customize samples with speed and flexibility. You may record up to eight channels of clean 24-bit/96kHz sound if you have a sufficiently robust audio interface. Connect your DAT machine, CD player, mic preamp, or other input to your GSIF 2-compatible soundcard or audio interface and begin recording. The Quick Edit window lets you edit crucial parameters such as tuning, envelopes, filters, and attenuation.

MIDI maestro

Gigastudio 3.0 Ensemble
Gigastudio 3.0 Ensemble.

GS3 has restructured its MIDI implementation from the ground up. MIDI is now processed at the kernel level, meaning latency is reduced to the level where response is nearly instantaneous. Intelligent MIDI processing allows you to perform some unique tricks. For instance, using the Alternation mode you can create orchestral string parts that alternate between up-bow and down-bow samples. Legato mode triggers different samples depending on how a part is played. The Random mode adds life to tracks by mixing in notes selected at random from a selected sample bank. Many GigaStudio libraries include articulation files that allow you to switch to a different instrument by pressing a key. For instance, you could alternate between the bell and ride surface of a ride cymbal, or mix trills and pizzicato notes into a violin part.

Sound libraries

Many top film composers rely on the vast number of high-quality sample libraries available for GS3. Whether you write symphonies, hip-hop jams, ethereal aural soundscapes, or almost any other style of music, you'll find there is no shortage of sounds for your GS3. With its huge storage capability, flexible performance and studio tools, advanced MIDI functionality, and more, GigaStudio 3.0 makes a powerful ally for any electronic musician.

Features & Specs:

    Giga Virtual Instrument (GVI) plug-in

  • Unlimited polyphony
  • 16 MIDI channels
  • GigaPulse SP with Convolution
  • 96kHZ/24-bit resolution

    GigaStudio 3.0 Orchestra:
    All the features of GVI plug-in plus:

  • Zero-latency performance
  • Enhanced editing
  • 8 MIDI I/O
  • VST host
  • ReWire
  • GigaPiano II Full
  • GigaPulse Pro with Convolution
  • DSP Station digital effects




Pickup Sounds

Dale Jason; Gilbert, AZ

Q: My new guitar has two pickups and I don't know which one to use. Can you give me a brief explanation of how they work?

A: Two pickups is the most common setup for electric guitars. Here is how they work:

The Bridge Pickup is closest to the bridge of the guitar where the strings anchor into the body of the guitar. This pickup usually gets a thinner sound because it captures the sound right as it comes off the bridge; it is commonly call the treble pickup.

The Neck Pickup is closest to the guitar neck and has a warmer sound. It is often used for playing rhythm guitar.

You should experiment with different combinations to find your own signature sound.

Hope this helps!

Yours in Music,
John McCarthy
Rock House

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9 Questions with Steve Smith

The quintessential musician's musician shares some inside tips.

Steve Smith

Since his explosive fusion album debut on Jean Luc Ponty's Enigmatic Ocean and his tenure with the more mainstream Journey, Steve Smith has spent three decades touring and recording with dozens of top names in rock, jazz, pop, and fusion, including his own band Vital Information. For five consecutive years Smith earned Modern Drummer magazine's reader-voted award for #1 All-Around Drummer. Smith took a few minutes out of his frenetic touring and recording schedule to answer a few pertinent questions.

1: How important is studying with a good teacher?

A: Studying with a good teacher is vital. The main way a musician is going to learn how to play an instrument is through private lessons.

Most so-called "self-taught" players are never as good as players who have studied with great teachers. There are a few exceptional self-taught players, but if you look at their history you'll see they are few and far between and lived in a time and place that is quite rare: for instance Buddy Rich growing up in the early half of the 1900s in a show-business family or Dennis Chambers growing up in a musical family in an African-American community in Baltimore. Both of these examples are certainly different than the average kid growing up in the USA or Europe today.

It's strange to me that people even question the idea of music instruction at all. Would anyone try to teach themselves martial arts or ballet? To me, drumming is just as specialized and you need to learn how to really play the instrument versus bang on it. The problem is that there are so many role models who can barely play, yet they are working professionally. This is a sad commentary on the level of today's average pop-star drummer. What you'll find is that the level of the average local working musician is higher than that of the average pop star. The local players usually have more experience and have played with a variety of good musicians versus being limited to the same group since they started playing.

2: What's the difference between a good drummer and a great one?

A: Interesting question. A good drummer plays in time and plays with a good feel and can work on a professional level. To me a great drummer is a great musician. They have all the elements of good drumming�good time and feel�and go beyond that. Their musicianship is apparent. They give the music shape and form, and they control the band dynamics and phrasing, playing with a sensitivity that is clearly motivated by the desire to have the entire ensemble sound as brilliant as possible.

3: Give one piece of advice�above all others�to the developing drummer.

A: Take your time, be patient, and learn how to play the instrument first. Don't be in a hurry to join a band and try to "make it." Learn how to read music. Develop good technique. Work on your coordination, time, feel, touch, sound, and dynamics, which will add up to you developing your musicianship. There are a lot of good DVDs available for ideas and then, of course, find a good private teacher. Then play with other musicians and develop the ability to be a good team player.

Being a good musician will last a lifetime and if you choose music as a profession, you will be able to find work. Taking a "short cut" and joining a band and trying to make it before you really learn how to play is like buying a ticket to the lottery. A few people get lucky and win; most people are just wasting their money. On the other hand, a good drummer will be able to work and enjoy being a musician for a lifetime.

4: How do you work with a bass player to develop a deeper pocket?

A: That is usually a matter of both the drummer and the bass player being good individual players who agree on the basic feel. To develop a deeper pocket is usually a matter of focus and dedication to making the pocket the priority. Both the drummer and the bass player make sure that everything they play is in service of the groove.

Steve Smith

5: How do transcendent musical moments feel to you?

A: I'm very relaxed and the playing is effortless. Time seems to slow down and I can even watch myself play sometimes as if I'm in the audience. I feel connected with the other musicians and the experience is usually a collective experience.

6: How do you decide to use clear or coated heads?

A: I use coated heads for acoustic jazz; they give me a warm, round tone. When I play rock or jazz/fusion, I use clear heads to give me an open, resonant sound.

7: Give us some tips for choosing the right drum set.

A: I would start with a small kit�bass drum, snare, one mounted tom and one floor tom, a hi-hat, and two cymbals. That is the best way to get your fundamentals together. Then once you start gigging you can add drums or cymbals based on your musical needs.

I find it useful to have different size bass drums with my drum sets. If I use a 22" bass drum, this gives me a very different feel and sound than an 18" or 20" bass drum. I tend to use a smaller bass drum with jazz playing. My average bass drum is a 20" because it's the best compromise.

The way I set the bass drum up with heads and muffling is also very important. I use a full head on the front of the drum with no hole cut in it and no pillow or "stuffing" in the drum. The only muffling I use is a felt strip on the batter (beater side) head and sometimes a felt strip on the front head. This way I can play with more dynamics and the drum actually has a nice tone and not just a flat thud. This is important to take note of for the younger drummers who may have never played a bass drum that has no pillow in it. That sound and feel was designed for studio playing and, in my opinion, doesn't work for acoustic jazz. The double-headed bass drum, played with a nice touch (having the beater come off the head as opposed to "burying" the beater) will blend well with an acoustic bass and give the band a warm bottom-end sound and feel. If you need to mic the bass drum, place the mic on the batter head (as if miking a tom) and you'll get a great sound.

Tuning the toms and choosing heads are also important when playing acoustic jazz. I tune my toms relatively high and like to use coated heads which give me a warmer and slightly softer sound than clear heads. I tend to stay away from heads with built-in muffling; they were developed for the dead studio sound.

8: What primary difference do you find using a wood snare versus a metal snare?

A: One would think of the usual characteristics, like a wood snare usually has a darker, "woody" sound whereas a metal snare has a brighter more "metallic" sound. Though this is generally true, I own both metal and wood snare drums and if the drum is made of wood or metal isn't the issue. I choose a drum based on the instrument's unique sound and if it's right for a gig or a particular song.

Steve Smith

9: What about choosing a ride cymbal?

A: Choosing ride cymbals is very important for drummers, especially for playing jazz, because most of the rhythms being played are centered on the ride cymbal. I've noticed that many young drummers who ask me about certain ride cymbals are usually not taking into consideration the music they will be playing and the other musicians they will be playing with. They talk about the cymbal itself and ideas like "cutting through," "projection," and other qualities that are the opposite of what they need if they are playing jazz with acoustic instrumentalists. Also, many drummers now practice with ear plugs or headphones, which is good to save their hearing, but I have noticed that it can have a tendency to make them play louder and be less sensitive to the actual sound they are getting from the instrument. The sound you get from the cymbals and drums is very important and it mainly depends on your touch, but choosing the right equipment is the first step.

If you are playing with an acoustic bass it's important to have ride cymbals that are not too loud and will blend well with the sound of the bass. I think this is one reason why many jazz drummers prefer darker cymbal sounds�they blend with the warm sound of the upright bass. I've told many young drummers who are just starting to play jazz to find ride cymbals that will sound pleasing to the ear and musical in a small room�cymbals that will be pleasant for the other musicians to hear too, keeping in mind they will be standing only a few feet away. This was surprising to them because it's very different from the information they get via media advertising that makes drumming look like a violent act that requires loud cymbals, powerful drums, and sticks and heads that won't break.

The idea of "cutting through" may have some relevance for big band playing but, more than volume, the clarity of the beat is what is important. For big band you may want a brighter ride cymbal than if you are playing with a small group; but again it depends on the band and what kind of venues you will be playing. If you are in a college big band and are mainly rehearsing in a room at school, you need to take that reality into consideration when choosing a cymbal. I've found the only times when cymbals that "cut through" are needed is when playing with a rock group that uses highly distorted guitars that cover every frequency. In those cases I've needed a ride cymbal that has clarity and some volume. Other than that, volume is not an issue and neither is "projection." Cymbals tend to be loud to begin with, especially if they are not played with a mature touch. I find it harder to find a cymbal that has a nice sound and doesn't get too loud as I play it than a cymbal that isn't loud enough. I generally use relatively dark rides when playing acoustic jazz and rides that are a bit brighter when playing electric jazz. When I play with Indian tabla players or acoustic instrumentalists in a small room or club, I find that the lightest flat rides give me the airy sound needed to blend with and not overpower the other players.

I have also found that when playing small-group acoustic jazz, crash cymbals are unnecessary. If you need a crash sound, you can get it from a good ride cymbal. I like to add crash cymbals when playing with a big band or a rock band to accentuate some of the band figures. I have found some splash sounds and specialty sounds to be useful in small-group playing, but whether or not these sounds are appropriate also depends on the overall musical concept. If you have at least a few different ride cymbals and additional cymbal sounds (crashes, splashes, etc.), you can make choices depending on the musical situations you find yourself in.

Recommended Listening - A Must For Your Collection!

Alejandro Escovedo, The Boxing Mirror
By Kenny Berkowitz
In 2003, as his solo career was gathering momentum, Alejandro Escovedo collapsed onstage, the victim of hard living and hepatitis C. A veteran of country-punk (Rank and File) and roots rock (True Believers), Escovedo has been fighting his way back ever since, and that near-death experience colors every note on The Boxing Mirror. On �Arizona,� he contemplates his last drink, riffing against a backdrop of synths and violin; on �Evita�s Lullaby,� he lets his mother speak again with her dead husband; and on �Died a Little Today,� the album�s saddest song, he writes about �the strange way we live / to have been here before / and leave nothing behind.� On acoustic and electric guitars, Escovedo, Jon Dee Graham (his former bandmate in True Believers), and David Pulkingham play a mix of power chords and echoing arpeggios, covering the range from romantic (�The Ladder�) to raucous (�Sacramento and Polk�). John Cale�s production leans closer to art-rock than it does to alt-country, and the Velvet Underground live on in Susan Voelz�s violin solos (spread throughout the album) and the disc�s darker, heavier songs, like �Break This Time� and �Take Your Place.� It�s a difficult, ambitious album for Escovedo, who rocks harder than he has in years, looking back on the lifestyle that almost killed him and forward to a new life of love and sobriety. (Back Porch,


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