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Guitar Musician e-zine     06/21/2006

In This Issue:

  "... As far as being a 'player's player', you've only got to go to Nashville or Argentina, and you can forget about it. The world is full of amazing guitar players, and you know it, and I know it ... it's a humbling experience..."

                                                                               - Mark Knopfler / Dire Straits

Some Humor

A Newfie was terribly overweight, so his doctor put him on a diet.

"I want you to eat regularly for 2 days, then skip a day, and repeat this procedure for 2 weeks. The next time I see you, you should have
lost at least 5 pounds." When the Newfie returned, he shocked the doctor by having lost nearly 60 POUNDS!

"Why, that's amazing!" the doctor said, "Did you follow my instructions?"

The Newfie nodded . . ."I'll tell you though, by the lard tunderin, I  t'aut I were going to drop dead dat 3rd day."

"From hunger, you mean?

"No, from skippin' !!!!!

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 Line 6.

Line 6 LowDown LD300 Pro

The ultimate bass combo for professionals who like to have fun

By Lonnie Rohrbaugh

The ultimate bass combo for professionals who like to have fun

With the LowDown LD300 Pro Combo bass amp and its little brothers the LD175 and LD150, Line 6 has hit on the perfect combination of bold power, easy portability, a broad palette of high-quality tonal options, and pure juvenile fun. The serious adult side of your brain will be knocked out by the LowDown�s functional features�a tight and brawny 15" speaker, an HF horn, four channels with one-touch scene storage, an adjustable vintage studio compressor model, headphone and CD/DVD jacks, a tuner, and an XLR direct out with POD-based cab modeling. Meanwhile the non-serious, childlike part of your brain will go bananas with the sub-octave, envelope filter, and chorus effects; five bass amp models and a bass synth; and 300 foundation-cracking watts of sonic power.

Hand me that �fridge

One of the great vicissitudes of being a bass player is hauling around a refrigerator-sized cab in order to be heard above the many apparently stone-deaf guitar players and drummers who plague our nation's nightclubs. Maybe Harry, the hairball, string-breaking, volume freak doesn't mind dragging around amps that are bigger than his car, but I do. So I was very, very happy to grab the LowDown's spring-loaded recessed bar handles and discover that I could pick it up with less effort than lifting my eight-year-old daughter.

Line 6 LowDown LD150
Line 6 LowDown LD150

At only 21"W x 26-3/4"H x 14-1/2"D, and less than 75 lbs. the LowDown is no problem for one guy to handle by himself. Its dense carpet covering and heavy mesh grille mean you don't have to worry about dings.

Richter rocker

Though it has a very unassuming stage presence visually, the LowDown is a sonic monster�a veritable behemoth of the auditory underworld. At half volume, this thing set all my basement windows to rattling. Its 300 watts drive that big ol' 15-incher like Barry Bonds smacking a baseball over the fence.

If you're looking for a secret weapon to spring on that obnoxiously too-loud drummer, the LowDown won't let you down. He may snigger at the size of it when you set it on the stage, but he'll soon wonder why he can't seem to play as loud as normal. And five-string basses are no problem; this thing blasts out frequencies so low you hear 'em with your teeth. Its octave effect will go you one better by generating a note a full octave below your bass's lowest note. The high end is also well taken care of; the mutable tweeter has no trouble keeping up with that big 15, letting you slap and pound at the same time.

Line 6 LowDown LD175
Line 6 LowDown LD175

Channel cat

The LowDown's 4-band EQ is the most lively I've encountered on any bass amp, and they're obviously tonally specific to the amp model you select. Start by just choosing the Clean setting on the model selector and you can generate a huge range of very usable sounds by tweaking these four knobs alone. To save your tweaks, you just push one of the four self-illuminated channel buttons and hold it down for a few seconds.

The EQ is not all that's saved, every setting on the whole amp except the master volume is stored in your channel and one push brings it all back to life. A channel volume lets you set your levels in advance as well. Pick up a Line 6 FBV Shortboard and it will add an additional 32 channels, all controlled with your feet, FX on/off, wah, deep switch, comp, volume pedal, and more.


Clean, R&B, Rock, Brit, and Grind amp models plus a bass synth Synth further expand your tonal repertoire and a Deep button gives each of them a little broader butt while a Drive knob lets you pile on the distortion. All of the amp models have good things to offer but the R&B model is my favorite, delivering a very funky sound that works great for slappy grooves, especially when combined with the envelope filter, which sweeps a broad swath back and forth through the tonal range like a wah. The rock model sounded like an SVT in a combo, very impressive.

Line 6 LowDown LD300
Line 6 LowDown LD300

When you apply the Synth model, the EQ knobs begin to work like oscillator controls on a real synth. Combine this with the filter sweep and you can come up with some truly out-there sounds�perfect for ambient sections and intros. A single knob controls the filter, sub, and chorus effects. Just turn it to the desired range to activate the effect (which is indicated by a red LED), then control the intensity with the 1/3 knob sweep before you reach the next effect. It's a simple and very usable system that keeps you from getting mired in menus when you're trying to keep your muse alive.

Open doors

A headphone jack on the front of the LowDown lets you practice silently and an 1/8" input jack lets you jam along with your MP3 or CD player, which actually sounds pretty good through the speakers, thanks to the tweeter and tight cone. An XLR direct out with cab models based on the Line 6's famous POD models sounds incredibly accurate run through the board live and especially in the studio. I had better luck running straight into my digital recorder this way than I did miking the cab.

For practical daily gigging and practice, the LowDown easily tops any bass combo I've encountered. It's easy to carry and compact, it hits harder than Tyson, it has a built-in tuner, and it lets you dial in any kind of bass tone you could ask for with amazing ease, then save it with the push of a button. And, most importantly, it's FUN!

Features & Specs:

  • 300W power
  • 15" speaker
  • High-frequency tweeter with horn
  • 6 bass amp models: Clean, R&B, Rock, Brit, Grind, and Synth
  • Vintage studio compressor model
  • Bass-specific octave, envelope filter, and chorus effects
  • Built-in tuner
  • Oversized, high-speed power amp
  • 4 programmable channel memories (36 with a FBV Shortboard)
  • Headphone jack
  • 1/8" CD, MP3 in jack
  • Studio-quality XLR direct out with POD-based cab modeling
  • 21"W x 26-3/4"H x 14-1/2"D
  • 74-1/2 lbs.

Check out Line 6�s other LowDown amps too�the LD175, and LD150. With the exception of wattage and speaker size (and no horn on the LD150), they share the fantastic features of the LD300.




Am I Ready to Jam?

Benjamin Kross, Houston,TX

Q: I really want to be in a band but I don�t know if I am ready or good enough to join one. How do I know if I am ready?

A: This is a common question I get from my students. You practice real hard and you got some chops but are you ready to take that plunge into a band? The answer is hell yes!

The biggest misconception is that you have to be a great player to be in a band. You will learn more by being in a band and getting the experience of playing with other musicians than sitting in your room and practicing by yourself. It actually makes you rise to a new level!

I suggest that you go for it, find a bunch of guys to jam with and make some music. I can�t tell you how many musicians I know that say they are not ready to play in a band for years (they are) and just never go for it. Don�t make this mistake.

Hope this helps!

Yours in Music,
John McCarthy
Rock House

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Where's the Hook?

By John Braheny

John Braheny "Hook" is the term you'll hear most often in the business and craft of commercial songwriting. (Well, maybe not as much as "Sorry, we can't use your song," but it's possible that the more you hear about hooks now, the less you'll hear "we can't use it" later.)

The hook has been described as "the part(s) you remember after the song is over," "the part that reaches out and grabs you," "the part you can't stop singing (even when you hate it)," and "the catchy repeated chorus." Some of the world's greatest hook crafters are commercial jingle writers: How many times have you had a jingle stick in your mind?

There are several categories of hooks.

In this category, part of the structure of the song functions as the hook. The most common is the "hook chorus." It repeats several times during the song, and should contain the title or "hook line," usually the first or last line. We may also consider memorable "B" sections, particularly in an AABA form (Verse - Verse - Bridge - Verse) to be hooks, but the chorus is almost universally referred to as "the hook."

There are melodic phrases in songs that aren't part of the vocal melody, yet stick in our minds as though they were. In the last line of the chorus of The Beatles' "Something" after "Don't want to leave her now, you know I believe and how . . . " is a melodic guitar figure that we think of whenever we think of the melody, though there's no lyric over it. If we heard that figure by itself, we'd be able to "name that tune." The repeated riffs or loops that introduce and run beneath Stevie Wonder's "Superstition," Michael Jackson's "Beat It," and Jay-Z's "Can I Get A . . ." are as memorable as any other parts of the songs.

I often hear songwriters say that creating those instrumental hooks is the job of the arranger, producer, or studio musicians. Keep in mind that if those are the hooks that sell the song to the public, they'll sell the song to the producer and artist if you create them first.

Have you ever heard a song and afterward couldn't quite remember the melody or the exact words but you could remember the story? Sometimes the story itself is so powerful and evocative that it's the thing that stays in your mind longer than the exact words or melody. Examples are the Dixie Chicks' "Goodbye Earl," Clay Walker's "The Chain of Love," Eminem's "Stan."

Production hooks aren't always possible for a songwriter, but today more writers than ever before have access to sophisticated instrumental and recording technology. The sounds on both demos and master recordings have become very important. Experiment with the way various instruments sound in combination. Experiment with digital keyboard "pre-sets" combined with acoustic instruments or natural sounds. You can digitally sample sound sources or buy them on disks, tapes or ROM cartridges and modify them yourself. MIDI (Musical Instrument Digital Interface) technology has made possible an almost infinite variety of sonic combinations.

Early recording effects such as "phasing" and "flanging" were later incorporated into electronic boxes that you could use at the tap of a button and today virtually any sound modification device used in the studio has been converted to some portable digital form that you can use at home or on stage. Certain sounds will evoke certain emotional responses. Use them as artistic tools along with lyric and melody to create mood and emotion. One of the most effective hooks is a sound no one has ever heard before. Remember, however, that once you get into the technology of creating sounds, it can be so much fun that you can easily forget that the song is still the most important thing. No matter how exciting those sounds are, they won't make up for a weak song.

Hooks are essential in commercial music. They are points of reference that keep us interested and focused on the song. They're devices that help us remember and an entertainment in themselves. Part of your job as a commercial writer is to be able to use as many different types of hooks as possible.

This excerpt from John Braheny's book, The Craft and Business of Songwriting (2nd edition, 2002, Writers Digest Books) has been edited for length. It's available at bookstores everywhere. For info about John's critiquing and consulting services, go to

Brought to you by TAXI: The Independent A&R Vehicle that connects unsigned artists, bands and songwriters with major record labels, publishers, and film & TV music supervisors.

Recommended Listening - A Must For Your Collection!

LAGQ, KSpin and LAGQ Live
By Mark Small
Just before taking 2005 off to pursue individual projects, the Los Angeles Guitar Quartet recorded the new CD, Spin, a showcase for the ensemble�s dazzling technique, impeccable ensemble work, and ability to coax a stunning array of sonic effects from the nylon-string guitars of John Dearman, William Kanengiser, Scott Tennant, and Andrew York. The repertoire comes from the crossroads of contemporary classical styles (especially minimalism) and jazz. As LAGQ�s most prolific composer, York penned more than a third of the music, including the title track. His piece �Quiccan� is a standout, with its minimalist ostinato figures, fleet-fingered jazzy lines, and flamenco inflections. His rhythmic yet melodic three-part suite, Night Furniture, is given additional drive by Scottish percussionist Colin Currie, who plays marimba on the first and last movements and adds hand drum to the middle segment. (Currie also plays vibes on Joe Duddell�s �Freaky Dancer.�) �Catwalk,� by Bryan Johanson, effectively evokes the image of soft feline footsteps with accompaniment figures almost exclusively played as muted pizzicato notes. Other pieces include jazz composer Vince Mendoza�s attractive, five-movement Solstice Poem, and LAGQ founder Bill Kanengiser�s lovely and lyrical �Turn to the Sea,� which opens and closes this outstanding disc. (Telarc,

A must-have for LAGQ fans, the DVD LAGQ Live documents a concert performance in St. Louis, Missouri. With a program that includes classical selections by Bach, Tchaikovsky, and Liszt, as well as bluegrass-, Celtic-, Andean-, and African-flavored cuts, it captures the excitement, virtuosity, stylistic breadth, and sense of humor that have earned LAGQ a large and loyal following. (Mel Bay Publications,


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