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Guitar Musician e-zine     08/09/2006

In This Issue:

  "... so much of what we do now started in 1954 at Sun Records in Memphis Tennessee ... those guys were inventing that stuff (Rock & Roll) ... you can really tell on some tracks ... they were actually afraid at times of what they were playing. But Rock & Roll definitely didn't come before that time; it started right there"

                                                                           - Brian Setzer - Stray Cats / Brian Setzer Orchestra

Some Humor

  A Scotsman moves to America  and attends his first baseball game.

       The first  batter approaches the batters' box, takes a  few swings
 and then hits a double.

       Everyone  is on their feet screaming "Run!"

      The next batter  hits a single. The Scotsman listens as the crowd
again  cheers "RUN, RUN!!"

      The Scotsman is  enjoying the game and begins screaming with the fans.

       The fifth  batter comes up and four balls go by. The Umpire calls"Walk."

    The batter starts his slow  trot to first base. The Scot stands up
and screams,  "Run ye lazy bastard, rrrun!"

      The people  around him begin laughing. Embarrassed, the Scot sits back  down.

      A friendly fan  notes the man's embarrassment, leans over and
explains, "He  can't run -- he's got four balls."

       The Scot  stands up and screams, "Walk with pride,  Laddie


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 Gibson.

The Gibson Les Paul Standard

The Standard of Cool

By Leif Argus

The Standard of Cool

What do Eric Clapton, Jimmy Page, Keith Richards, Peter Green, and Paul McCartney all have in common? I mean aside from the facts that they were all born in England of Western European heritage and grew to fame playing American blues and rock. The answer is what they play it on--the Gibson Les Paul Standard. Today's Les Paul Standard evinces the same attention to build quality and phenomenal sound characteristics that brought it into the hearts and bands of true guitar fanatics everywhere almost half a century ago.

Gibson Les Paul Standard
Gibson Les Paul Standard 60s Neck Electric Guitar And Les Paul Standard 50s Neck Electric Guitar

A star is born

The original Les Paul model was given the name "Standard" in 1960. By this point the Les Paul's native gold top had become optional and the name was needed to distinguish the Standard from new Les Paul variations such as the Special, Junior, and Custom. Years later, collectors made the name "Standard" retroactive to apply to all the original Les Pauls from 1958 onward which sported sunburst as opposed to gold finishes.

Often cited as the world's most desirable vintage electric guitar, the late-50s Les Paul Standard had arrived at the state of grace we all associate with the Les Paul. Seth Lover's amazing "Patent Applied For" humbucking pickups with their thicker, warmer output had replaced the original P-90 single coils. The ill-conceived trapeze tailpiece had been replaced with the stop tailpiece and the brilliant tune-o-matic bridge, allowing precision adjustment of intonation as well as overall string height adjustment.

Aside from those significant positive changes, the Standard was pretty much the same stunning instrument that had made such a big splash with a metal-flake gold paint job in 1952--a carved solid maple top joined to a mahogany back with a mahogany set neck and a rosewood fretboard. Put together with the precise care of highly trained and well-motivated American artisans, this combination of woods added up to a unique and full-bodied tone that's never been topped.

True to its roots

The Les Paul Standard Musician's Friend sent me for review (straight out of stock, not hand-picked) demonstrated clearly that Gibson's quality control is at least as tight now as it was when those amazing early Standards were made. It's an ebony-finished model, which shouldn't be underrated. It has powerful eye appeal when you see it in the flesh and it can save you a pretty penny over a transparent finish. The paint and finish work are flawless and set off beautifully by cr�me binding on the top and fretboard.

The binding edges are clean as a whistle and the binding follows the top contour in the cutaway, just like it did on the originals. I really love the way the fretboard binding is hand-filed to enwrap the ends of the frets. This imparts a really smooth feel and a luxurious look. The matching heavy pickguard, pickup surrounds, and switchplate provide that vintage visual vibe that works as well today as it did 50 years ago.

The advent of laser routers has made the pearloid trapezoid fretboard inlays far more precise on this new Standard than on the $300,000 specimens from the late '50s (that's right, almost a third of a million bucks!). The classic nickel hardware emits a softer glow than chrome and the push-in bushing green tuning keys add another touch of history.

Tactile ecstasy

Gibson Les Paul Standard
Gibson Les Paul Standard 50s Neck And Les Paul Standard 60s Neck Electric Guitar

A player's relationship with his or her instrument is a very individual affair. There's a certain chemistry that either develops or not between musician and machine. That relationship begins with the eyes and quickly involves the fingers. The hands of a seasoned player can feel way more about an instrument than meets the eyes or even the ears. When the vibe is right, the instrument draws music out of the hands.

This Les Paul Standard did that for me at first touch. I didn't want to put it down, even long enough to turn on my equipment and plug it in. The slim '60s neck combines just the right amount of heft with the comfort of a worn-in glove. Though it's by no means a light instrument, the tight resonance of that perfect neck joint and optimal wood combination was readily apparent. The classic gold tophat knobs and pickup selector are placed perfectly for easy access without getting in your way. And the narrow-waisted body is easy on the ribcage.

Sonic mastery

The Les Paul Standard's Burstbucker Pro I and II pickups are virtually identical to the PAFs found on the original Standards, complete with slightly mismatched windings. They combine with the woods and workmanship on this guitar to produce tone that is nothing short of astonishing. Played through my two-channel tube amp, the Standard's clean jazz tone was breathtaking--punchy as hell but round, fluid and sweet. Overdriven just a bit, it cranks out a thick grind to provide a hefty spine of rhythm for any electric tune.

On channel two this thing totally rips. There's plenty of highs to get those chimey upper harmonics, but you don't have to sacrifice bold midrange and tight bass to get them. For laying down a dense river of sustained tone, today's LP Standard holds its own against any guitar I've ever played, including a '59 Standard and a '60 Standard.

This guitar leaves no doubt that Gibson is still producing instruments that can compete with the classics for looks, feel, and tone. You don't need $300,000 to have the real thing, you just need a modern Les Paul Standard.

Features & Specs:

Les Paul Standard

  • Bound carved maple top
  • Mahogany back and neck
  • Bound rosewood fretboard
  • Burstbucker Pro I humbucker with alnico magnet at the neck
  • Burstbucker Pro II humbucker with alnico magnet at the bridge
  • 2 volume knobs, 2 tone knobs, and 3-way switch
  • 1960s slim taper or '50s rounded neck shape
  • Tune-o-matic bridge and stopbar tailpiece
  • Nickel hardware
  • 1-11/16" nut width
  • 24-3/4" scale length
  • Black reptile-pattern hardshell case with shroud




Arpeggio 101

Jake Williams; Denver, Colorado

Q: What is an "arpeggio" and do I need to know these to play lead guitar?

A: An arpeggio is each note of a chord picked out separately. If you are serious about playing lead or rhythm guitar you will need to know how to construct an arpeggio and use it in the context of a song.

Let me start by explaining how to construct an arpeggio. Find a chord that you would like to use in a song context for either lead or rhythm sections. For this example, let�s say we wanted to use an A minor arpeggio. We must first know the names of the notes that make up this chord, which are A-C-E. By playing these three notes in succession in any order, you are playing an A minor arpeggio. You can also use chords that consist of more than three notes such as a C major 7th, which uses the notes C-E-G-B. Playing these four notes in succession will form a C major 7th arpeggio.

For lead playing there are various techniques that can be applied to arpeggios to make them very interesting. These include sweep picking and triplet patterns. But I suggest that you start at the beginning and just learn the basic arpeggios and memorize them so you can apply them to your playing quickly and expand your vocabulary.


Yours in Music
John McCarthy
Rock House

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TECH TIP - The Guitarist's Guide to Multiband Distortion

Don't Miss Out On The Next Big Thing In Guitar Distortion
Reprinted from with the permission of the author and publisher Craig Anderton

If you're a guitarist and you're not into multiband distortion...well, you should be. Just as multiband compression delivers a smoother, more transparent form of dynamics control, multiband distortion delivers a "dirty" sound like no other. Not only does it give a smoother effect with guitar, it's a useful tool for drums, bass, and believe it or not, program material - some people (you know who you are!) have even used it with mastering to add a distinctive, unique "edge."

As far as I know, the first example of multiband distortion was a do-it-yourself project, the Quadrafuzz, that I wrote up in the mid-'80s for Guitar Player magazine. It remains available from PAiA Electronics (, and is described in the book "Do It Yourself Projects for Guitarists" (BackBeat Books, ISBN #0-87930-359-X).

I came up with the idea because I had heard hex fuzz effects with MIDI guitar, where each string was distorted individually, and liked the sound. But it was almost too clean, yet I wasn't a fan of all the intermodulation problems with conventional distortion. Multiband distortion was the answer. However, we've come a long way since the mid-'80s, and now there are a number of ways to achieve this effect with software.

How It Works

Like multiband compression, the first step is to split the incoming signal into multiple frequency bands (typically three or four). These usually have variable crossover points, so each band can cover a variable frequency range. This is particularly important with drums, as it's common to have the low band zero in on the kick and distort it a bit, while leaving higher frequencies (cymbals etc.) untouched.

Then, each band is distorted individually (incidentally, this is where major differences show up among units). Then, each band will usually have a volume control so you can adjust the relative levels among bands. For example, it's common to pull back on the highs a bit to avoid "screech," or boost the upper midrange so the guitar "speaks" a little better.

With guitar, you can hit a power chord and the low strings will have minimal intermodulation with the high strings, or bend a chord's higher strings without causing beating with the lower ones.

Software Plug-Ins

The first multiband distortion plug-in was a virtual version of the Quadrafuzz, coded as a VST/DX plug-in by Spectral Design for Steinberg. Although I was highly skeptical that software could truly emulate the sound of the hardware design, fortunately a guitarist was on the design team, and he nailed the sound.

The Quadrafuzz is now included with Cubase SX, and is a straightforward way to do multiband distortion.

But they took it further than the hardware version, offering variable frequency bands (the hardware version is "tuned" specifically for guitar), as well as five different distortion curves for each band, from heavy clipping to a sort of "soft knee" distortion. As a result, it's far more versatile than the original version.

A free plug-ins, mda's Bandisto, is basic but a fine way to get started. It offers three bands, with two variable crossover points, and distortion as well as level controls for each of the three bands. There are two distortion modes, unipolar (a harsh sound) and bipolar, which clips both sides of the waveform and gives a smoother overall effect.

While the least sophisticated of these plug-ins, you can't beat the price. It's as good a way as any to get familiar with multiband distortion.

Ohm Force's Predatohm provides up to four bands, each of which includes four controls to change the distortion's tonality as well as the channel's overall tone and character. Unique to Predatohm is a feedback option that can add an extremely aggressive edge (it's all over my "Turbulent Filth Monsters" sample CD of hardcore drum loops), as well as a master tone section.

Wild, wacky, and wonderful, this plug-in has some serious attitude. Under its spell, even nylon-string guitars can become hardcore dirt machines.

iZotope's Trash uses multiband distortion as just one element of a comprehensive plug-in that also incorporates pre- and post-distortion filtering, amp cabinet modeling, multi-band compression, and delay. The number of bands is variable from one to four, but each band can have any one of 47 different algorithms. Also, there are two distortion stages, so you can emulate (for example) a fuzzbox going into an overdriven amp (however, the bands are identical for each of the two stages). The pre- and post-distortion filter options are particularly useful for shaping the distortion's tonal quality.

This doesn't just make trashy sounds, it revels in them. Sophisticated trash may be an oxymoron, but in this case, it's appropriate due to the complement of highly capable modules.

Rolling Your Own

You're not constrained to dedicated plug-ins. BIAS's Vbox is a VST-compatible plug-in, arranged as a matrix of slots for inserting effects, that hosts other VST plug-ins. The matrix format allows for series/parallel combinations of effects. In other words, you can split a signal into several parallel bands, each containing multiple series effects -- just what's needed for multiband distortion.

Native Instruments' Guitar Rig 2 has enough options to let you create your own multiband distortion. A Crossover module allows splitting a signal into two bands; placing a Split module before two Crossover modules gives the required four bands. Of course, you can go nuts with more splits and create more bands. You can then apply a variety of amp and/or distortion modules to each frequency split.

Yet another option is to copy a track in your DAW for as many times as you want bands of distortion. For each track, insert the filter and distortion plug-ins of your choice. On advantage to this approach is each band can have its own aux send controls, as well as panning. Spreading the various bands from left to right (or all around you, for surround fans!) adds yet another level of satisfying mayhem.

Here a guitar track has been "cloned" three extra times in Sonar, with each instance feeding an EQ and distortion plug-in. These have been adjusted, along with panning, to create multi-band distortion.

And Best of All...

Thanks to today's fast computers, sound cards, and drivers, you can play guitar through plug-ins in near-real time, so you can tweak away while playing crunchy power chords that rattle the walls. Happy distorting!


Recommended Listening - A Must For Your Collection!

Brandi Shearer and the Robin Nolan Trio, Rendezvous at the Nightery
By Dave McCarty
With the instrumental fire and grace of Django Reinhardt, the breathtaking Gypsy-jazz acoustic guitarist Robin Nolan brilliantly supports the earthy singing style of jazz vocalist Brandi Shearer on this breakthrough recording. Intimate, passionate, and both harmonically and rhythmically engaging, Rendezvous at the Nightery sets a new standard for integrating vocals into the complex and demanding sounds of Reinhardt-style Gypsy swing. The mulitfaceted Nolan and emotionally expressive Shearer shimmer together like twin quasars on a starry night, producing achingly beautiful collaborations on �Meu Amor,� �Nuages,� and �Say It Isn�t So,� and fully engaged interplay on such wilder tunes as �Belleville Rendezvous� and �Coquette.� Shearer�s penetrating vocals evoke both Billie Holiday and alt-country/pop singer-songwriter Marti Jones. With mandolin great David Grisman, rising Gypsy-jazz guitar star Stephane Wrembel, rhythm guitarist Kevin Nolan, and bassist Simon Planting in the mix, Rendezvous becomes one of the tightest, most powerful acoustic-jazz meetings in years. (Amoeba Music,


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