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Guitar Musician e-zine     06/08/05

In This Issue:


"... We're all about trying to play better every night, not just singing hit songs ... we ad lib, and every night there's jamming .. it's almost like the Grateful Dead meets Buck Owens some nights, because we'll go off on little adventures and sometimes we do crash the bus! ..."

- Brad Paisley

Some Humor

Girl's Night Out

Two women who had been friends for years, decided to go for a Girls Night Out, and were decidedly over-enthusiastic on the martinis. Incredibly drunk and walking home, they needed to use the bathroom.
They were very near a cemetery and one of them suggested they go behind a headstone.
The first woman had nothing to dry herself with so she decided she'd take off her panties, use them, then throw them away.
Her friend, however, was wearing rather expensive underwear and didn't want to ruin hers, but was lucky to salvage a large ribbon from a wreath that was on one of the graves. She dried herself with the ribbon.
After finishing, they then made off for home. The next day, the first woman's husband phoned the other husband and said, "This girls' night out thing has got to stop right now. My wife came home last night without her panties."
"That's nothing" said the other husband, "Mine came home with a card stuck to her fanny that said, 'FROM ALL OF US AT THE FIRE STATION. WE'LL NEVER FORGET YOU.'"

Click here for all products by Line 6.

Line 6 ToneCore Pedals

Blow your mind!

By Elias Cole

Since unleashing the world's first digital modeling amp in 1996, Line 6 has been at the forefront of modeling technology. Over the years, they've stayed on top in the field with such innovations as the POD, GuitarPort, Variax guitars and basses, and Vetta amps. Proving once again that they're never content to rest on their laurels, the engineers at Line 6 have come up with the ToneCore series of modeling effects pedals. Each of the six pedals brings its own unique effects set to your sound and combines simple, intuitive controls with solid construction and incredible value. Musician's Friend let me try all of them and I was extremely pleased with their performance to say the least.

Musician's Friend Hands-On Product Reviews - Line 6 ToneCore Pedals Space out, man
The Space Chorus takes the standard chorus effect to the outer limits, if you so desire. There are three different model settings: Chorus, Tri, and Vibrato. The Chorus setting emulates vintage and modern chorus effects that use "bucket brigade" electronics. It can be used with mono or stereo outputs, and the effect is different with each. If a mono signal is employed, the chorus comes out on the left channel, with the right signal dry. With a stereo input, both channels are processed. Tri mode models classic multivoiced chorus units, creating a lush, wet effect. Vibrato delivers a pitch variation for that classic warble.

There are the traditional Speed and Depth controls, plus a Color knob that tweaks the sounds further. The Color knob's function varies depending on the model setting you're using. In Chorus mode, it moves the effect from vintage on the left to modern on the right. In Tri mode, it changes the overall tone from warm to bright. On the Vibrato setting, it lets you choose between three distinct styles of the effect�Vintage, Euro, and Blue.

With all of these options, it's easy to create your own unique take on what a chorus effect should sound like. You can go from traditional to downright "out there" sounds. It's definitely the most versatile chorus pedal I've used.

Walk in the park
The Echo Park pedal is based on Line 6's DL4 delay modeler. It's a bit more involved control-wise than the Space Chorus, so it's good to spend some time checking out the different settings. There are 11 different delay patterns and three model settings. The Tape setting models a vintage tape-based echo, giving you that dark '60s vibe. The Digital model creates crisp, clean echoes and provides the precise control you'd expect from a digital delay. Lastly, the Analog model re-creates the solid state "bucket brigade" delay sound that was popular in the '70s.

As if all this control didn't provide enough versatility, the Mix, Repeat, Time, and Mod knobs allow further tweaking. Line 6 also included a Trails switch that will ring out the effect when you switch to bypass, which I found really cool when coming off a lead that uses the effect. The Echo Park is capable of so many different delay effects that finding your own unique ones won't be a problem. It does have a slight learning curve if you want to venture away from a standard delay, but with so many killer tones to be discovered, your time will be well spent.

Click to Enlarge Overdriven
The Crunchtone's name really says it all. The three models�Blues, Pop, and Crunch�are based on Line 6's power tube overdrive models. The Blues setting delivers a sharp, crisp overdrive that's perfect for blues or hard rock. If it's a '60s tone you're after, the Pop setting will suit you well with its mild, vintage tube sound. And when you want that classic British punch, Crunch pumps out some seriously driven, slightly compressed tone. I found it perfect for many of my leads that just weren't hitting the mark with my standard setup. The three model settings are only the beginning, as the Crunchtone also has knobs for Bass, Treble, Level, and Drive and two gate settings so you can find just the tone to fit your style. It will take you to the edge of metal.

Over the edge
If the Crunchtone takes you to the edge of metal, then the �ber Metal pushes you over and plunges you into the abyss of sinister tone. Line 6 has incorporated some of their most brutal high-gain tones into this little beast. There are three model settings, and they are aptly named Metal, Pulverize, and Insane. Metal puts out a blistering but controlled distortion that's perfect for riffing or sizzling leads. Pulverize is a bit meatier, with tube-melting, high-gain crunch. And Insane is, well, insane. Talk about some face-shredding tone! This setting really screams and, thanks to the Level, Mid & Scoop, Drive, and Bass and Treble controls it's easily tweakable for the ultimate metal sound�be it classic, thrash, or nu-metal.

As with the Crunchtone, there are two gate settings to further hone the effect to your particular style. The �ber Metal really captures the best of Line 6's distortion effects.

Click to Enlarge Put the squeeze on
The Constrictor is not your average compression pedal. The Mellow, Compact, and Squeeze model settings are derived from analog compressors from the '60s, '70s, and '80s respectively. Mellow emulates a tube compression and has a flat frequency response. The compression ratio for this setting is 3:1, with a fast 10ms attack time and an 82ms release time. Compact is based on vintage '70s stompbox compressors. The 37:1 compression ratio, 10ms fast attack and 295ms slow release time result in a slight boost to the midrange frequencies. Squeeze finds its model in the stompbox compressors of the '80s. It has a 19:1 compression ratio, with a 31ms slow attack and a 98ms fast release time, delivering a boost to the high frequencies without going too far.

The gate on the Constrictor is very unique to the pedal world and really helps reduce the noise produced by compressors when the sustain amount is turned up very high.

Knobs control the noise gate, the output level, and sustain settings. Having a noise gate on a compressor is something unique in the pedal world, and it really helps reduce the noise produced by most compressors when the sustain is turned up very high. Once I had dialed in the pedal to my rig, I loved the added sustain and overall brightness it gave to what I already considered a killer tone. It just goes to show there's always room for tonal improvement, and a good compressor like the Constrictor is a great starting point.

Last but not least
The final pedal in the ToneCore series is the Tap Tremolo. As you would expect, it delivers an array of trem effects. The three model settings are Opto, Bias, and Pan. Opto emulates the trem effect from '60s-era American amps, Bias delivers the '50s European sound, and Pan that sweeps back and forth between the left and right channel when run in stereo.

There are a number of ways to diversify the effects you get from the Tap Tremolo. The Speed and Depth controls are your standard starting points, allowing you to adjust the tremolo's pulse and volume variations. It gets to be really fun when you start playing with the Peak and Shape knobs. Peak changes the speed of the effect so that it gets faster as you play louder and slower as you quiet down. Shape changes the waveform from a silky sine wave to a rough, choppy square wave that fluctuates from loud to quiet. What all of these controls add up to is an extremely wide choice of trem effects. Spend some time with this pedal and you're sure to find a bunch more that fit your particular style.

But wait! There's more!
The Space Chorus, Echo Park, and Tap Tremolo pedals also feature a Tap Tempo function. Thanks to the dual-action footswitch on each of these boxes, you can lightly tap the switch to set the speed of the effect. This can be done with the effect on or off, which is handy for jumping right into a lead or break that requires a different speed. The first two light taps set the tempo with additional taps averaged in. The LED on each pedal will flash the set tempo and will vary in color depending on whether or not the effect is active or bypassed.

If the sounds that each pedal creates stand tall by themselves, when you start combining different ToneCores the results are out of this world. Try the �ber Metal alongside the Echo Park for a killer metalized delay. The Crunchtone paired with the Tap Tremolo re-creates the dark, swampy sounds of early CCR. I actually used this exact setting on a couple of CCR covers that I play with my band�"Born on the Bayou" and their version of "The Midnight Special"�and it sounded awesome! An Echo Park/Crunchtone combination delivers that classic slightly driven, delayed tone that The Edge has made famous. The possibilities are endless.

The final analysis
The ToneCore effects pedals from Line 6 are an extraordinary value considering their sonic possibilities and solid construction. Whereas many effects pedals tend to sound redundant or exactly like their rivals, the ToneCores each bring a unique voice to your tone. In this day and age, finding your own sound is more important than ever. These pedals will surely take yours to new heights.


Features & Specs:

Space Chorus Echo Park
  • 3 distinct, analog-based chorus models
  • Speed, Depth, and Color controls affect each model differently
  • Tap Tempo function lets you set the effect's speed with footswitch
  • 3 different analog and digital-based delay models
  • Mix, Repeat, Time, and Mod knobs
  • Function knob with 11 different delay types
  • Trails switch lets effect ring out when going into bypass
  • Tap Tempo function lets you set the effect's speed with footswitch
Crunchtone �ber Metal
  • 3 killer overdrive models
  • Dual-function noise gate
  • Level, Bass, Treble, and Drive controls
  • 3 shredding distortion models based on the Line 6 HD147 and Vetta II amps
  • Dual-function noise gate
  • Mid & Scoop, Drive, and Tone controls
Constrictor Tap Tremolo
  • 3 vintage, analog-based compression models
  • Level, Sustain, and Gate controls
  • Noise gate reduces much of the noise normally created by increased sustain levels
  • 3 mind-melting tremolo effects
  • Speed, Depth, Peak, and Shape controls for maximum tweakage
  • Tap Tempo function lets you set the effect's speed with footswitch

For more info on ordering this product email us

Guitar Q & A

  What Scales are Compatible?

Q: How do I know what scales are compatible with each other? I would like to be able to change from one scale to another within a solo?

A: This is a loaded question that has an answer that can be three chapters of a book but I will try to put it in the simplest perspective so you can start to understand the theory.

There are many scales that can be compatible with each other, the most obvious are scales that are all major and scales that are all minor. If you are soloing over a rhythm that is in the key of "A" minor with Natural minor scales, other minor scales can most likely be used for soloing as well like Minor Pentatonic scales or even at times Harmonic Minor scales.

The same will hold true with Major scales if the rhythm you are soloing over is in the key of "A" Major and you are soloing with the Major scales you can also use the Major Pentatonic scales to solo.

Every rhythm has different chords so there will be unique situations for many rhythms that will allow you to use multiple scales for soloing. I suggest that you start to study music theory and soon you will be able to understand every rhythm and what scales can be used for soloing.

Hope this helps!

Yours in Music
John McCarthy
Rock House


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  Steve Stevens: Frolicking In The Devil's Playground
by Lisa Sharken

Steve Stevens carved a name for himself in the early '80s as guitarist for Billy Idol. Through the decade, Stevens worked with Idol and contributed to his first three albums, before setting off on other ventures. As a highly-demanded guest player, Stevens recorded with major artists such as Michael Jackson on Bad, Robert Palmer, Thompson Twins, Ric Ocasek, Vince Neil, and went on to form his own groups, including the Atomic Playboys, and Bozzio Levin Stevens (with drummer Terry Bozzio and bassist Tony Levin). In 1999, Steven released a well-received solo album, Flamenco A Go-Go,. which spotlights his Flamenco and classical chops and gives fans a chance to hear another side of his artistry.

Early in the new millennium, Stevens reunited with Idol and appeared with him on VH1's Storytellers in 2002. Most recently, Stevens and Idol connected on their first album together since Whiplash Smile in 1986. Listening to the new material, it sounds as if little time has passed and things picked up right where they left off, sporting the same trademark sound. For Stevens, certain things have changed in terms of his equipment and his focus as a player, but the music and the sentiment remain the same.

We caught Stevens shortly before a gig in Oklahoma City. As a transplanted New Yorker talking to a fellow New Yorker, we began our conversation with Stevens confessing his undying passion for the local pizza and his dissatisfaction with most others. From our own experience and pizza expertise, we both agreed that there truly is no other acceptable substitute! Once we settled down from our cuisine snobbery rant, we then went on to discuss his work on the new Idol disc, Devil's Playground, and what fun it's been to be touring alongside his longtime comrade once again.

Hey Steve, next time you're in New York the pizza's on me! Tell us about making this album with Billy. Was it a familiar process, where things just fall together instantly? And was there anything different this time around from working together in the past?

Steve Stevens: I would say that there were things that were obviously familiar in that we did have the same team with us as before in Keith Forsey and Brian Reeves - producer and engineer. The one big difference is that Brian Tichy, our drummer of about four years, started to contribute some songwriting ideas. Obviously for me, that was a readjustment, and I had to evaluate my own ego, and really think about what is required of me. It was actually really liberating because for some songs, all I had to think about was the classic Frank Zappa saying, "Shut up and play your guitar!" Sometimes when you write stuff, you're not so concerned with the guitar parts, and you start to get concerned with all these other things. And it was kind of liberating in a way because there were things that I had written that I was more involved in from a production and arrangement standpoint. But there were also things where I could just play guitar and really get off on that. When I realized that Jeff Beck didn't write anything on Blow By Blow, and Robert Fripp didn't write In The Court Of The Crimson King, then I realized it was cool to just focus on playing guitar. So it was kind of cool, and it took the heat off. It also enabled Billy and I to have someone as a springboard and bounce ideas off of. So it was different in some respects, and it's also different because there's no bull**** between Billy and I. We're older and wiser, and you just cut through that stuff when you don't really have any pretense. We've been through all that. We've been through the war, we don't need to be cordial. In what ways have your preferences for tone changed?

Steve Stevens: One big factor is that primarily every guitar part on the record was recorded with either a Les Paul or a Tele. There were absolutely no whammy bar guitars or any of that kind of silliness. The Tele I used was custom built by John Suhr. I used about five different Les Pauls on the record, and my Les Paul Junior. I think all the acoustics I played were Billy's. He's got a Martin Eric Clapton model that I used which is just stunning. I brought in a couple of my acoustics, and that thing just kicked the **** out of my guitars! In addition, we miked it for a realistic acoustic sound, but I'm not sure exactly which mic we used.

One of the great things for me now is that I can link up multiple amplifiers, which is an idea I always wanted to try, but you'd always have problems with phase cancellation, and impedance mismatching. Radial Engineering had given me this unit that's basically a splitter box, where you have one guitar in and seven outputs that are totally isolated and transformer isolated. So I got in every amp I could imagine I was interested in, from my old Plexi Marshalls to one of the John Suhr OD100s, a Bogner Uberschall, a hand-built combo amp that I use made by a guy named Doug Roccaforte, a Vox AC30, and a few other amps. We just had them all running at all times. Depending on the track, we chose combinations of amps and it was really cool for me. It allowed us not to have to use as many keyboards on the record!

And for playing live, I finally got a master guitar switching system that I'm happy with. I tried to do that in the early '80s with the whole Bradshaw thing and I remember having to fly Bob Bradshaw out to gigs because this thing would go down. God bless him, he was the only one who could fix it back then. So now this guy Dave Friedman from Rack Systems, he put together this system for me. I use a lot of components that hadn't been used before. The switcher is built by a company in Denmark named Skrydstrup. I was the first person to get the Axess Electronics rackmounted switcher. So we tried a lot of things that hadn't been used before. My one demand was that if any of this stuff didn't make my rig sound as good as me plugging straight into the front end of my amp, then I'm not interested in it. And any time there was anything that added coloration in my sound, I just eliminated it. What type of effects did you have in the switching system?

Steve Stevens: I had a **** load of effects and a lot of them are boutique pedals. I had a hard time finding a wah that I liked. Then after searching and searching, I ended up settling on the Dunlop Dimebag wah. I thought that was the best-sounding wah. It had the right sound I was looking for. I've also got a Moog Ring Modulator because I always loved the sounds that Jeff Beck got with a ring modulator, and I never knew how he did it until I plugged into that pedal. I've got a Sweet Sound version of the Uni-Vibe made in Florida by a guy named Bob Sweet. There are two Line 6 rack units - a modulation unit and the delay unit. I use a fuzz box made by a company out of Brooklyn called Frantone. I also have a clean booster made by a Japanese company. I need a clean booster because I play with enough front-end gain. And with this switching system, if I want to switch to a lead sound, I'll just switch to a different amplifier because it's got effects switching and amp switching.

So for playing live, I'm using a John Suhr OD100 for my clean lead sounds, and I'm using a modded Peavey 5150 for my basic rhythm sound. So rather than kick in distortion pedals for lead sounds, I just change amps. Then the next step is to sync everything up through midi. Our lights and some of our cue changes are on midi, so on the next leg of our tour, I'm going to do all my program changes on midi so that I don't have to change anything with my feet. That should be pretty liberating! Then all I have to worry about is playing my guitar. How different is your stage rig from the gear you used in the studio?

Steve Stevens: Basically, it's the same stuff, although in the studio, sometimes we would combine three different amps. I'm using some of the same amps, but I'm switching between them. I'm not using them all at the same time as I did on the recording. On the road, I have a couple of 5150s and the John Suhr OD100. We've got some backups, but I have four that are main amps, and I use an H&H power amp in a wet/dry kind of system. The wet/dry set up just always worked for me and I've been using that for the last 12 years or so. I've tried to get away from it, but I just really like having control over when I switch to a solo, having effects on the left and right, and echoes and things happening. It makes my soundman's job a lot easier. I play through Marshall 4x12 cabinets with Celestion Vintage 30s in them.

We've been experimenting with different mics on the speakers. We tried some Sennheisers, and I keep going to Shure 57sA. During every soundcheck, I'll go out into the house and listen to my guitar. We'll try a new mic up there, and then we'll switch to the 57, and invariably, I always end up with the 57. I tend to mic the speaker slightly off axis of the cone, but pretty close to the cone. I don't have an incredible amount of treble in my sound. I like to keep it set with more high-mids and lower-bottom. In the '80s, I used Plexis which were just bright as hell, and it was always very hard to try to get any kind of mids and lower bottom. They're very clanky and bright, and onstage that stuff just goes right through you. Which guitars do you have out on tour?

Steve Stevens: I've got three late-'80s Les Paul Standards - one black and one white. Both have been fitted with Seymour Duncan Custom Customs, which is now my favorite pickup. I used to use JBs, but I've gravitated towards the Custom Customs because of the Alnico magnets on them. I also have a Les Paul TV Junior that has a Duncan P-90 in it. I do a bit of Flamenco guitar solo during the show, so I have a Godin nylon-string acoustic/electric which also has the synth capabilities, and I'm using a Roland guitar synth with that. I also have Godin LGXT. That guitar does everything. It has two humbuckers in it, and it has a piezo pickup in the bridge which also drives the Roland synth. For me, in things like "Flesh For Fantasy," I'm able to do all the horn parts on it at the same time. It's pretty cool. Do you cover a lot of the keyboard parts live?

Steve Stevens: Just that aspect. During my solo, I do some synth stuff behind my solo when I'm playing unaccompanied. I'm sure the audience thinks it's keyboards behind me! I just like having the control over it. Which guitar did you use to record all the country riffs on "Lady Do Or Die"?

Steve Stevens: That's all the John Suhr Tele. I'm not taking that guitar on the road because we're not doing that song in the set. How are your guitars set up?

Steve Stevens: I use Ernie Ball .010-.052 strings, which is a hybrid set. I've had jumbo frets put on most of my guitars, so I like the action set kind of high. A lot of people that have played my guitars are really uncomfortable with them. I play occasionally with an all-star cover band called Camp Freddy, which is Dave Navarro, Billy Morrison, Jerry Cantrell and Billy Duffy from the Cult. And Dave Navarro went to use one of my guitars and when he picked it up, he said, "I'm not playing on this thing!" I kind of felt good about that! What type of picks do you prefer?

Steve Stevens: I use the green Dunlop .88 mm Tortex picks. It's not a medium and it's just kind of below a heavy. It's a great pick. Do you tune to standard pitch or tune down at all?

Steve Stevens: Most everything we play is in standard tuning, but there are couple of songs that we do where the low E is dropped down to a D. Two sings off the record, "Body Snatcher" and "Rat Race," both use dropped-D tuning. I wish we could tune down a half-step because I really like the way that it sounds, but we have so much older material that just wouldn't sound right with that tuning. I've tried doing stuff with Billy in the lower tuning, and it just doesn't sound right. It's not a Billy Idol thing. Did you experiment with any new or unusual gear while recording?

Steve Stevens: The one amazingly cool box that I got is the TZF flanger built by Dave Fox at Foxrox Electronics, the guy who makes the Captain Coconut pedal. This flanger is unbelievable! The thing about it is that you can't put it in front of an amp. It has to be in the effects loop. But it seriously sounds like tape flanging. It's totally got that Robin Trower, Brian May "Keep Yourself Alive" kind of sound., I got the majority of pedals through an online store called Music Toys. They have a policy where you can try stuff and if you're not happy with it, you can send it back. So for the last year and a half, I just ordered stuff. That's a dangerous weapon! I'd go on there at night, read up on stuff and listen to their sounds files, and just order things. That flanger is just amazing! I think they ended up using it in the studio on more than just my guitar. They used it on some drum stuff. I also got the Moog Murf pedal, which is the sequenced filter pedal, and that's pretty amazing on guitar. Certain effects, you know you can't put in front of the amp, and it's one of those that you have to put in the effects loop on your amp. Out of everything you've recently acquired, which piece is the coolest?

Steve Stevens: To be honest, I was pretty knocked out with that Bogner Uberschall for certain things. I haven't taken it on the road with me, but all those heavy guitars in "Rat Race" were done with the Uberschall. That thing has got so much bottom, and it's very clear bottom. It's not muddy at all. I was really knocked out with that amp and also the John Suhr OD100. It absolutely has the best clean guitar sound I've ever heard, with gobs of headroom. And being able to switch to that kind of clean sound live, it's what I always wanted. I always imagined that I'd have an amp that would replicate things like "Flesh For Fantasy" live, with that super clean, beautiful sound. It makes my Les Paul sound like a Strat. It's chimey and really amazing. Since you're using so many different amps while tracking, do you need to work in the control room?

Steve Stevens: I would say that 90 percent of the guitar stuff was recorded in the control room, but I did start missing some of that feedback. So what we did was we set up a little amp in the control room with a volume pedal on it. I think it was a Fender Champ that belongs to our producer, Keith Forsey. Any time I needed to have some feedback, it as literally aimed right at my guitar pickup. I used it for things like the beginning of "Scream," or anything with feedback. I would just step on the volume pedal and get feedback going. I think I read something about how Slash did that because you definitely do have a different feeling playing in the control room. There's something to be said about that direct connection between your pickup and your speaker cabinet. But at the same time, having to play to a track through headphones is not great. You feel more connected to the music when you're in the control room, but you feel more connected to your amp when you're next to it, so there was that trade off. Which track on the record stands out as a favorite? Which one best illustrates your playing?

Steve Stevens: On this record, I would say "Rat Race," even though there's not a guitar solo on it. But as a piece of music, and as a progression of what Billy and I are capable of doing, I would say that. I was just really happy with the way that turned out. At one point we were thinking of putting a solo on it, but I just thought the song stood on its own. It doesn't need a guitar solo. My two favorite tracks are "Rat Race," which I co-wrote, and "Body Snatcher," which I didn't write, but I love. It's great to play. Our drummer, Brian Tichy, wrote it with Billy. Brian has his own band and he plays guitar and sings in it, and he's a great guitar player. When I heard the demo for that I thought, "Man, I can't wait to play this!"

Steve Stevens: Frolicking In The Devil's Playground How does working in the studio compare to playing live? What is it that you like and dislike about each situation?

Steve Stevens: Playing live is just a pure adrenaline rush. It's a totally different thing. And being onstage with Billy, it's such a different feeling working with someone you have a history with and can tell the audience knows that. Our relationship as a team has probably outlasted most peoples' marriages and they really look to us as a little piece of their life. It's a comfort thing for them to see us up there together. Another thing is that we genuinely like each other! We stayed in contact when I had left after Whiplash Smile, and there really wasn't any animosity. I was surprised whenever anyone would write that there was, because it just wasn't true. But being onstage and playing some of these songs together, like every time we play "Eyes Without A Face," the hair on my neck stands up. I've played with a number of artists, and I just don't get that feeling with them. So that's what it's about live. In the studio, it's a tough process, and I used to feel really guilty because I wouldn't listen to records after I had finished recording them. With all the attention to detail that I go through when doing a record, by the time I'm done with it, I have to take like a six-month break from it. I once read an interview with Robert DeNiro and he was saying that he can't watch his films. I understood why and I know that I'm not so weird. What do you listen to for enjoyment and inspiration? What would we find in your CD player this week?

Steve Stevens: Well, it would be an iPod now! Let's see... With so many remastered records being available, I find that I go and buy back catalogs. I've been going through a real Robin Trower phase, and I'll listen to anything by Jeff Beck, new or old. I like Beck's You Had It Coming, particularly a song on there he did called "Nadia." It's an Indian piece and it's just breathtaking. I had gone to England about two and a half years ago to go work with Juno Reactor, which is a friend of mine named Ben Watkins, and he turned me onto a lot of big beat stuff like Propellerheads and Chemical Brothers. It was not so much Fatboy Slim, but all this kind of - I hate to say - "techno electronica." But at the time it was being called "big beat." I just really got into playing guitar stuff over that, and it's exactly what Jeff Beck has been doing. I think maybe it's the spontaneity factor. I love the kind of repetition loops that that Jeff has going on in his newer stuff. I just wish that when he got to a solo, he would make that the one real thing and make it really stand out. People don't want to be fooled into thinking things were manipulated too much. There's so much fakeness in music, and I think that's a valid reason why fans would kind of be turned off to some of his newer, more techno stuff. I'm not in any way knocking Jeff Beck. I mean, you go see him live and he's so amazingly brilliant. It's great that he can play with all those loops under him, but on the album, they really should keep his main guitar track as a very live element.

I recently got into this Icelandic band Sigur R�s. A friend of mine turned me onto them and I went to see them live and they were just incredible. I thought they were absolutely amazing. The guitar player plays almost the entire show with a violin bow on his guitar, but I guarantee you, it's nothing like Jimmy Page. I had read recently a biography of King Crimson, so I wanted to go back to all the King Crimson stuff and listen to that after having read these stories about how these songs came about, and different incarnations of the band. I've always loved Robert Fripp, and he was the one kind of prog-rock guitar player that wasn't afraid to move to New York and kind of embrace the New York new wave scene, and not see it as a total threat to his career, where all so many other bands, punk rock was really the nail in the coffin for them, and rightly so. What advice would you offer to other players on developing their own style?

Steve Stevens: Listen to instruments outside of the one you play. If you're a guitarist, listen to Miles David and John Coltrane. For me, a lot of learning my own guitar style came from listening to a band that Billy had turned me onto called Suicide - Alan Vega and Marty Rev, which was a duo from New York of just keyboard and voice. And through listening to them, that's how I stumbled upon those kind of guitar figures in "White Wedding" and "Rebel Yell," which kind of go across the bass line and the chord changes. That was something I got directly from Suicide - the moving bass on those songs. Marty Rev moved the bass lines around on the keyboard while he had a stagnant chord figure on his right hand. Then I also listened to people like Allan Holdsworth. Phrasing-wise, he sounded more like sax players than guitar players. Phrasing is so important. One aspect for me that's become a lot more important and something that I practice a lot now is really wide vibrato and making the most out of the least amount of notes. Which artists have been most influential to you as a player?

Steve Stevens: I go through so many. At one point or another I would just immerse myself into different players for a couple of months at a time, either someone really rudimentary, like Chuck Berry, or someone like Albert King, John McLaughlin or Paco de Lucia. I wouldn't really try to play like those people, I would just get into what they were doing. I also went through an Adrian Belew phase and really got into his stuff. I've been playing guitar for a long time, so I just go through phases of listening to different people. But obviously for me, from the standpoint of writing, production, and guitar playing, the monument is still a Led Zeppelin record. You can't get away from the fact that Jimmy Page wrote every great guitar riff in the book. Those records are so well produced and their use of color was just awesome. I really love that Zeppelin DVD that came out last year. It's amazing to watch, especially all the really early stuff he played on his Tele.

Recommended Listening - this is a must for your collection.

IIIrd Tyme Out, Best Durn Ride
By Sue Thompson
A showcase for IIIrd Tyme Out’s extraordinary singing and driving ensemble playing, this fine album is sure to become a favorite with bluegrass fans. It’s a top-notch collection of songs full of engaging melodies and thoughtful, well-crafted lyrics. David Norris’ “Best Durn Ride” paints a winning portrait of a philosophical old rambler, and Becky Buller’s “Rest My Weary Feet” takes the perspective of a backwoods mailman. The CD is laced with the band’s powerful trio vocal blend, which cuts modern smoothness with a gutsy edge. Though the material is mostly contemporary, the band’s style and arrangements honor tradition, as on Bill Monroe’s classic “Bluegrass Special,” in which Alan Purdue reprises Monroe’s original mandolin break and guitarist Russell Moore kicks off his own solo with Lester Flatt’s G-run break before letting loose with 12 bars of swinging, updated guitar riffs. (CMG,

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