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Guitar Musician e-zine     08/03/05

In This Issue:


"...The movie "The Girl Can't Help It" (1956) completely did me in, particularly seeing Gene Vincent and the Blue Caps who looked really dangerous. it started me wanting my own guitar ...another motivating factor was the collapse of rock and roll in 1959. Elvis was drafted, Buddy Holly was dead and there was no real danger anymore. Overnight everybody was named Johnny This or Johnny That, and they were all singing this terrible V-neck sweater music. So it was like, "What are you bastards doing with my music? I'm not going to have that taken away!" So I think we decided we just wanted to take it back..."

                                                               - Jeff Beck / Yardbirds / Jeff Beck Group

Some Humor

 I'm Okay .......  Really!

Dear Mom and Dad,


Our Scoutmaster told us t o write to our parents in case you saw the flood on TV and are worried. We are okay. Only one of our tents and 2 sleeping bags got washed away. Luckily, none of us got drowned  because we were all up on the mountain looking for Adam when it happened.


 Oh yes, please call Adam's mother and tell her he is okay. He can't write because of the cast. I got to ride in one of the search and rescue jeeps.

It was neat.. We never would have found Adam in the dark if it hadn't been for the lightning. Scoutmaster Keith got mad at Adam for going on a hike alone without telling anyone. Adam said he did tell him, but it was during the fire so he probably didn't hear him.


 Did you know that if you put gas on a fire, the gas will blow up? The wet wood didn't burn, but one of the tents did and also some of our clothes.

Mathew is going to look weird until his hair grows back. We will be home on Saturday if Scoutmaster Keith gets the bus fixed. It wasn't his fault about the wreck. The brakes worked okay when we left. Scoutmaster Keith said  that with a bus that old you have to expect something to break down; that's  probably why he can't get insurance. We think it's a neat bus. He doesn't care if we get it dirty, and if it's hot, sometimes he lets us ride on the fenders. It gets pretty hot with 45 people in a bus.



 He let us take turns riding in the trailer until the h ighway patrol man

stopped and talked to us.  Scoutmaster Keith is a neat guy. Don't worry,

he is a good driver. In fact, he is teaching Jessie how to drive on the

mountain roads where there isn't any traffic. All we ever see up there are

logging trucks. This morning all of the guys were diving off t he rocks and

swimming out in the lake. Scoutmaster Keith wouldn't let me because I

can't swim, and Adam was afraid he would sink because of his cast, so he

let us take the canoe across the lake. It was great. You can still see some of  the trees under the water from the flood.


 Scoutmaster Keith isn't crabby like some scoutmasters. He didn't even get

mad about the life jackets. He has to spend a lot of time working on the

bus so we are trying not to cause him any trouble.  Guess what? We have

all passed our first aid merit badges. When Andrew dived into the lake and

cut his arm, we got to see how a tourniquet works. Steven and I threw up, but Scoutmaster Keith said it probably was just food poisoning from the leftover chicken. He said they got sick that way with food they ate in



I'm so glad he got out and became our scoutmaster. He said he sure figured

out how to get things done better while he was doing his time. By the way,

 what is a pedal-file? I have to go now. We are going to town to mail our

letters and buy some more beer. Don't worry about anything. We are fine.


Love, Chris

Click here for all products by Fender�.

G-DEC Guitar Digital Entertainment Center

Painless practice and instant jams

By Jonny Redding

Guitar digital . . . what? Entertainment center? That was my response when Musician's Friend called me to review the brand-spankin' new Guitar Digital Entertainment Center, or G-DEC�, from Fender�. I thought of the black-finished piece of wood in my living room that supports my TV and various pieces of home theater equipment. My initial guess was that this was some type of guitar furniture, handily organizing your gear while keeping it open and accessible. It seemed reasonable enough at the time.

G-DEC Guitar Digital Entertainment Center When the box containing the G-DEC arrived, a quick glance at the well-designed graphics adorning the packaging made it obvious I had the wrong concept altogether. The G-DEC looked like some type of combo amp, a little reminiscent of the Cyber-Twin SE. I was intrigued and my curiosity was quickly rewarded, as I discovered the G-DEC to be one seriously addictive piece of gear. I played and practiced more the first day I got it than I had in the whole week previous, and I've gone back every day for more.

The concept
First, let's break down what the G-DEC is. It combines the functions of a powerful amp modeler, DSP effects processor, drum machine, MIDI synth, riff decoder, and combo amp into a ridiculously easy-to-use groove box. Look at the G-DEC's price and then check out that feature list again�it's a phenomenal deal. Then it gives you an impressive level of control over all the different elements so you can customize it to your individual desires. Fender has crafted an amp to be your own personal backing band, just waiting for you to step up and play. From the first time you turn on the G-DEC and plug in, it's set up for you. It's so brilliantly easy you only have to touch three knobs and one button to get busy rockin'.

You plug in and turn up the volume (first knob) and tone (second knob) the same way as any basic combo amp. The third knob you have to adjust is the big shiny chrome one to the right of the LCD. Labeled the Data Wheel, it selects the Performance Preset you play through. There are 100 Performance Presets on the G-DEC, 50 factory and 50 user. Each one consists of a guitar tone (an amp model and effects), a drum beat, a bass line, and sometimes additional instruments such as organ�combined with a cohesive feel. The guitar tones are excellent, which is saying something, because I had suspected at the outset that they probably wouldn't be that great. I mean, these are modeled amps and digital effects through a tiny combo amp, so how can it sound good? Well, I was wrong. The tones are oustanding and make playing the G-DEC a blast. They nail everything from screaming British metal to clean, compressed chicken pickin' with authority.

The Performance Presets represent genres like reggae, jazz, blues, country, swing, funk, and hip-hop. All of the presets are great; the rock settings actually rock, as do the others. Fender did a good job of giving the presets appropriately descriptive names�so you don't have to remember what preset 39 is. Names like Rockin' G-DEC, Original Punk, and Latin Jazz, make it clear before you even play what you're in for. The default Performance Preset, 00 Rockin' G-DEC, is the perfect starting point, with a feel and sound that will appeal to nearly any electric player. The LCD clearly and conveniently gives you the beats per minute (BPM) count and key of the preset (E, C, F#, etc.) so you can jump in on time and in tune.

After selecting your preset of choice, there's only one button left to push before the band comes in and propels you into your own musical fantasy camp: the START-STOP button. Press it and the G-DEC gives you a helpful four-count lead before the music starts, which is reinforced by the START-STOP button flashing in time to the beat. 1 - 2 - 3 - 4, and you're off, working on chords, scales, lead techniques, or just jamming. I spent countless hours with the G-DEC; I just couldn't stop! It was too much fun! It's a much better way to spend your time than soaking up the latest reality show on the boob tube. There's even a second input on the rear of the G-DEC so your guitar-playing friends can plug in and jam along.

Flexible fun
The G-DEC would be good if it was just a combo amp loaded with tasty preset grooves to jam with, but it offers much more than that. You can set up your own Performance Presets using the basic ingredients of guitar tone, key, tempo, style, and backing instruments. Got a scale you need to work on in every key? It's easy to set up a preset with a rhythm and tone you like and simply change the key when you need to. Being able to set up your presets can be invaluable for working on your own riffs, chord progressions, and leads.

Another practice-session pearl is the Phrase Sampler with 14 seconds of record time, slow down, and an auto-loop that instantly shrinks the time to fit whatever you've sampled. You can record your own licks or record a section of a song to learn. Fender eschewed the standard amp-top handle for a shoulder strap so that the top of the amp is nice and flat�perfect for a CD or MP3 player. Set your player down and run it through the RCA inputs to use the phrase sampler. The MIDI port lets you play the MIDI synth with a MIDI-ready guitar or a MIDI controller, will let you download any future software updates from Fender, and allows you to stream MIDI files from your computer so you can play along with them.

With an impressive amount of tweakability, fantastic-sounding amp models and effects, and a diverse programmable rhythm section the G-DEC is an absolute blast to have around. And on top of all that, it will make you love to practice. Guitarists of every stripe and experience level will have fun with it.


Features & Specs:

  • 15W power
  • 8" Fender� Special Design speaker
  • One channel with dual inputs (instructor/practice partner setup)
  • Headphone jack
  • Easy preset navigation
  • Tones from heavy metal to jazz to punk to country
  • Selectable drum beats, bass lines, and other instruments
  • 70 preset drum loops and metronome
  • 100 Performance Presets (50 factory, 50 user)
  • Each preset includes a drum loop, bass line, amp tone, and effects
  • 17 amp models
  • 29 studio-quality effects
  • 10 Reverbs
  • LCD screen
  • Controllable tempo
  • Internal synth with MIDI
  • Lots of effects
  • Guitar tuner
  • Internal 14-second phrase sampler with line in and slow down
  • Future software upgrades loaded via MIDI
  • Shoulder strap for easy carrying
  • Black Tolex� cover with silver grille cloth
  • 15-1/2"W x 13-1/2"H x 7"D
  • 16 lbs.



Proper Picking Hand Position

Steve Giels; Boston, MA


Q: For months now, I have been picking with a closed hand. It really is not open at all and I hold the pick between the index finger and thumb. I notice others use open hand picking but when I do it, I can't pick one bit. Is this bad? I enjoy my picking style but am afraid am I wrong. What is your opinion?

A: The text book proper way to hold your hand is open not in a clenched fist. When you close your hand your whole hand moves when playing alternate picking, with an open hand you can isolate just the two fingers holding the pick and use less movement which can generate optimum speed.

There are players that break the rules and have been successful, but they are the minority. It will require you starting basically from scratch and I know that sucks but it will be worth it in the long run.

This is why for beginners it is so important that you get all the proper habits built from the onset so you can progress quickly and efficiently.

Hope this helps!

Yours in Music
John McCarthy
Rock House


Interview with Steve Gadd

Photography by R. Andrew Lepley

A Conversation with Steve Gadd

Many drummers get hired for their amazing chops and technical facility. Such technically stunning players are in abundance these days. Much more rarely a drummer comes along who not only has impeccable technique, but also embodies that crucial and elusive quality called "feel". Steve Gadd is such a player. He's been the most in-demand session and touring drummer for several decades primarily because of his astounding sense of feel. His meter is unshakeable, and the deep "pocket" that he creates in any rhythm section is without peer in contemporary music. From the burning jazz fusion of Chick Corea and Stanley Clarke, to the sophisticated pop and rock of Steely Dan and Paul Simon, to the churning blues/rock of Eric Clapton � Steve Gadd is the guy they call on to lay down the perfect groove.

We caught up with Steve in Ohio.

Musician's Friend's Artist Spotlight Exclusive Interview with Steve Gadd

Q: We recently viewed you in the new Hudson DVD commemorating your Zildjian Lifetime Achievement award. That must have been quite an honor.

SG: Yeah, it was great. I was very flattered.

Q: One of the things you said in the video was great. It showed a lot of humility. You said that you felt the same about everyone out in the audience as they felt about you.

SG: Well, that's the way it works. Drummers just sort of take from each other, you know?

Q: It must have been moving, having so many great drummers in the audience, like Elvin (Jones)...

SG: Yeah, well, seeing Elvin, and Louie (Bellson), and Roy (Haynes), and I had my whole family there, my brother and his wife and all my kids and my wife... it was a great night for me..

Q: I understand you're currently on a clinic tour for Zildjian. How's that going?

SG: It's been going good. I've met a lot of nice people and I've seen a lot of nice drum shops and it gave me a chance to thank the people that work hard to try to get product to people. So you can get a chance to meet the teachers and the store owners and you thank them and talk to the students, so it was good.

Q: I had the pleasure of hearing you play with Chick Corea several years back at the Britt Festival in Jacksonville, Oregon, in a trio with Chick and Eddie Gomez. It was amazing, although afterwards the other drummers in the crowd and I were considering giving up drums. (laughs) Do you continue to play and record with Chick these days?

SG: I just did a track with him on the new album he's working on. I don't know when it's going to be coming out. At the beginning of the month, the second and third of April I did a couple of shows in Texas with Chick and Christian McBride. And it was a lot of fun.

Q: I understand you're from Rochester, New York and you attended the Eastman School of Music. Do you consider that an important part of your development?

SG: I went to Manhattan for 3 years. Then I switched back to Eastman. And John Beck was my teacher before college and in college and I think any kind of music is important in the development, you know what I mean?

Q: You play probably more different styles than any drummer that I know of. Do you have a favorite style that you enjoy the most?

SG: You know, when the guys have been playing and the music is good it doesn't make any difference what it is. It's like it brings things out of me, you know?

Q: You play with quite a variety of really special players . . .

SG: I love it and I'm very grateful for that.

Q: Nathan (East) talks about how he's fortunate too that he gets to play with a lot of different groups and a lot of different players. You probably really enjoy working with Nathan...

SG: Oh yeah, we've worked together for years and it's always . . . he's a great musician.

Q: Is there any way to describe any of the differences in a few of your favorite bass players? And the differences that maybe make interactions with each one different?

SG: Well, they're all different but the similarities are the way they listen and what they're trying to do musically. It's like, I mean, everyone is an individual so it's kind of hard to differentiate what they're doing. But what they all have in common is a musical approach to playing the music and listening with big ears and trying to set up a foundation and they bring new ideas out of me.

Musician's Friend's Artist Spotlight Exclusive Interview with Steve Gadd

Q: On the Achievement DVD everybody who spoke about you said that when you had approached music with them you'd not touch your kit at first. You come over and sit down and listen to what they were doing. And they thought you had it all visualized in your head before you sat down to play. Is that really it or do you just listen and get some ideas?

SG: Well, the thing is, if you go on a session and people start talking about the music and start describing it even before you heard it, That creates problems. You start thinking about things that might not have anything to do with the music. So it's always better to just listen a few times without doing anything, and then to respond to what they said about the piece. After hearing it, you've got something to attach to what they're saying.

Q: And hopefully they're bringing you in because they want you to add something, not tell you what to do, but add your Steve Gadd thing to it.

SG: Well, you know I listen, I don't think of it that way because then I get into trouble. I think they bring me in because they say I'm a good musician and it's not about me as much as it is about the music.

Q: I just wanted to mention a few of my favorites albums you've performed on over the years and to see if you had any quick associations or memories that stand out. Some of these are a little less well-known than your classics. How about Stanley Clarke's Journey to Love?

SG: It's been a few years, but I remember Stanley's music and was just happy to be a part of it.

Q: Richard Tee's Strokin'

SG: Richard and I worked together for 3 years or so. He was like my brother and it was a lot of fun.

Musician's Friend's Artist Spotlight Exclusive Interview with Steve Gadd

Q: How about Al Jarreau's Tomorrow Today?

SG: Yeah, I mean I don't exactly which album it is but the times I've worked with Al have been great. He's just a great musician and a real nice guy. I don't even remember the music as much as I remember just the way it was to hang with these guys and that's what makes it great.

Q: Right. The last one is Weather Report's Mr. Gone?

SG: I just remember I was doing some work with Jaco (Pastorius) and (French composer) Michel Colombier. We were having a good time. Jaco arranged it and it was fun.

Q: Did it come together pretty quickly when you worked with Eric Clapton?

SG: Yeah, I did my homework and listened to the stuff that we were going to play and did the best I could and then we rehearsed it. But Eric is a hard worker and rehearses hard and so, you know, you do your own work and listen hard and he rehearses like he's playing a show. (laughing) I mean, that's how he gets in shape.

Q: He doesn't hold back?

SG: No. He just goes full out, 200% all the time.

Q: Are there any young drummers on the scene these days that particularly impress you?

SG: There's a whole bunch of drummers on the scene today that are unbelievable. I know that from hearing people talk. When I'm working I don't really get a chance to go and see other guys that much but I hear people talking and there's a lot of great young guys out there and I don't know what their names are off the top of my head but they are still out there.

Musician's Friend's Artist Spotlight Exclusive Interview with Steve Gadd

Q: There is talk about how jazz is maybe dying or fading out to some extent. Do you see any evidence of that or not?

SG: I don't really pay attention to that. There are guys out there that can play it and the guys that are playing it have to have a real passion for it. They've got to go and listen to the guys that have done it before them. And it will go on because there is something about their love for it that they can't explain. They have to search it out now, because when I was growing up, it was what was happening, it was like readily available. A lot of the guys that have played it have passed on, but their passion and love for it will carry the torch for other people.

Q: You have a great feel for playing sambas. Are you into Brazilian music or did that groove just feel comfortable right away to you?

SG: I used to go and hear Airto (Moreira) playing a lot in New York some time ago and I just liked to copy his feel because that is his thing and I love what he does.

Q: Is there anyone you haven't had a chance to work with that you'd really like to that comes to mind?

SG: I've liked everyone I've worked with and I look forward to playing with guys that I've worked with before and meeting new people. If they are serious about music and serious about playing, everything else takes care of itself.

Q: Do you have any side projects of your own? A band or anything?

SG: No, not right now.

Q: Have you had any bands of your own in the past that did any recording?

SG: Well, I had the Gadd Gang and did a couple of albums and then I did another one called Gadd About It in Japan. But that's about it.

Q: Looking at your choice of equipment, I know you've got sponsoring and endorsing deals with a few companies. Could you tell us a little bit about each component of your equipment?

SG: Well, I play with Vic Firth sticks and we're coming out with some new brushes that we collaborated on. I play Zildjian cymbals and I've always played Zildjians. The one I've been playing for years, I found in Armand (Zildjian's) office. And with the crashes they've done a real good job.

Q: Can you describe what it is that you like about them?

SG: It's hard to put in words. I like all different kinds of rides. The one that I really like is the one which we tried to copy. It had a lot of definition and the note was low, so it sort of created its own space to be heard. It wasn't real high-pitched so it blended in with everything. And the crashes are not real high-pitched. The hi-hats have a good feel when you play them with your foot and a lot of definition when you play them with your stick. And I like to put the heavier one on top. Of the Yamaha drums, I like the birch toms and the maple bass drums. And the new Steve Gadd snare that's coming out is the steel one with metal hoops which is I think is a real good drum.

Q: That's going to be out in January I heard.

SG: Yeah, I think that's that right. I'm real happy with that.

Q: They had a previous model and that's still selling pretty well.

SG: Yeah, I mean those drums are great. All the drums are great. But we came up with this steel snare and put those metal hoops on it and it really has got a great tone range, so there's a lot you can do with it.

Q: And then probably on top of the actual equipment, the effort and energy these companies put into the market to take care of players . . .

SG: They really work real hard to give the players what they're looking for. And I have no complaints. They have taken great care of me. They're very proud of what they do and their standards are high.

Q: Finally, you mentioned that you run a lot. How long have you been doing that?

SG: Oh, probably about 15 years. I started late, but exercising is real important. You know, the older I get the more I learn about that. It's like, trying to get some kind of balance in your life. And you know, that's what helps get a flow happening.

Interview provided by Musicians Friend

Recommended Listening - A Must For Your Collection!

Lenny Breau, Swingin' on a Seven-String
By Michael John Simmons
Most people know Lenny Breau, who was murdered in 1984, as an innovative jazz guitarist whose technical mastery of the seven-string guitar set a standard that players still aspire to. What they may not know is that Breau�s parents were the country singers Lone Pine and Betty Cody and that Breau got his professional start playing guitar in their band, the Mountaineers. That biographical tidbit puts this collection of jazz arrangements of country music standards in perspective and helps explain why Breau�s versions of songs like �I�m So Lonesome I Could Cry,� �Blue Moon of Kentucky,� and �Bonaparte�s Retreat� are not only brilliantly played, but also have extra emotional depth. This reissue (originally released in 1984 by a tiny New York label under the misspelled title of When Lightn� Strikes) includes the only studio recordings of Breau playing his nylon-strung seven-string guitar. Breau is backed here by pedal-steel guitarist Buddy Emmons, bassist Jim Ferguson, and drummer Kenny Malone. Musicians have been mixing jazz and country since the 1920s, but they have rarely done it better than this. (Art of Life,


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