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Guitar Musician e-zine     08/23/2006

In This Issue:

  "When I started to play with my fingernails, it was not just for volume. The most important thing was giving the guitar different colors in its voices..."

                                                                                      - Andres Segovia

Some Humor

  Goodbye, Mom

A guy shopping in a supermarket noticed a little old lady following him around. If he stopped, she stopped. Furthermore she kept staring at him.

She finally overtook him at the checkout, and she turned to him and said, "I hope I haven't made you feel ill at ease; it's just that you look so much like my late son."

He answered, "That's okay."

"I know it's silly, but if you'd call out "Good bye, Mom" as I leave the store, it would make me feel so happy."

She then went through the checkout ... and as she was on her way out of the store, the man called out, "Goodbye, Mother." The little old lady waved and smiled back at him.

Pleased that he had brought a little sunshine into someone's day, he went to pay for his groceries.

"That comes to $121.85," said the clerk.

"How come so much? I only bought 5 items."

The clerk replied, "Yeah, but your Mother said you'd pay for her things, too."



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 Yamaha.

Yamaha TRB Series Basses

TRB = Totally Radical Bass

By James Nichols

TRB = Totally Radical Bass

The TRB series of basses was introduced over a decade ago by Yamaha, and throughout its span has been known as the instrument-maker�s professional line. Yamaha developed the basses through tried-and-true knowledge of instrument craft and direct input from a round-table of pro bassists, not the least of which is world-class jazz player John Patitucci. Though the new 1004, 1005, and 1006 carry a more reasonable price tag than the other TRB basses, they will generate even more worldwide acclaim for the TRBs as a pro player�s bass.

Yamaha definitely didn�t cut any corners when it comes to the handcrafted feel, perfect balance, and powerful-yet-versatile sound you expect from a TRB bass. In fact, the 1004, 1005, and 1006 all have a lot in common with the flagship of the TRB line, the JP2 John Patitucci signature model, even down to the tone woods used for their construction. The only difference is that these basses are crafted in Korea instead of Japan. For this review Yamaha sent me the TRB1005 to check out, which is also available in a fretless and a left-handed version, the TRB1005F and TRB1005L, respectively.

Yamaha TRB Series Basses
Yamaha TRB1004 4-String Electric Bass, TRB1005 5-String Electric Bass, and TRB1006 6-String Bass

Beauty and brains

Just like the JP2, all three new TRB models are composed primarily of alder and maple with a sculpted neck joint, custom Yamaha alnico humbucker pickups, active electronics, a 35" scale length, and a high-quality brass bridge. The alder body is topped by a maple cap with a quilted maple veneer. A thin, black-stained layer of poplar separates the alder body and maple cap. The gloss finish, sculpted cutaways, and heavily contoured body make the body comfortable and give it a modern look. The satin-finished, three-piece maple neck is attached to the body with six bolts for a very stable connection. The 24-fret rosewood fingerboard has oval mother-of-pearl inlays and a comfortable fretboard radius just a little over 19". The headstock has a matching quilted-maple veneer and the Yamaha logo is inlaid perfectly in beautifully iridescent abalone.

The neck has a medium-depth profile that I would describe as a very slightly flattened modern C shape. It felt fast and comfortable. Played acoustically, the TRB1005 had a nice growl with plenty of warm punch, a result of the bolt-on neck joint, maple-topped body, and extended scale length. From the G to the B string, each note rang true and clean, plus the low action feels very fast. Plugged into a small Eden rig the 1005 was just as incredible. It has two Yamaha alnico-magnet, stacked-design humbuckers controlled by a 9V-powered, cut/boost three-band EQ circuit, and a single volume knob with a pan pot for selecting pickups. It�s a smart setup that delivers fantastic sound with easy-to-adjust tonality.


With the EQ on both the bass and the amp set flat, the TRB sounded just as growly, punchy, and warm as it did unamplified. I thought the pickups sounded fantastic, with a natural presence and dynamic midrange that responds very well to playing nuances from the left or right hand. Even without adjusting EQ, you can get a lot of different sounds with the pan pot and your playing-hand position. Once I started using the EQ, I liked the amount of boost and cut it gave to the treble, midrange, and bass frequencies. Used with a little common sense, the EQ sounded very natural while giving up the type of tone-sculpting any bassist would appreciate.

No matter what music or style you play, it�s obvious from the minute you pick it up the Yamaha TRB1005 has everything you need. Every single player who picked up the Yamaha while I had it�from moonlighting guitarists to dedicated, lifelong bassists�agreed the TRB1005 had a great mix of quality and inherent musicality, especially considering its very affordable price tag.

If the TRB basses were girls, they�d be a lineup of smoking-hot Stanford University valedictorians. If the TRB basses were guys, they�d be a troupe of hunky Chippendale dancers who were also members of Mensa. They�re the sweet-playing, sweet-looking basses that make all the other basses jealous. They�ve got a style and look that�s all their own, completely modern, and are backed up by smart design. And most importantly, they play and sound perfect.

Features & Specs:

  • Alder body with maple cap
  • Quilted maple veneer
  • Black-stained poplar laminate between cap and body
  • Bolt-on 3-piece maple neck
  • 6-bolt sculpted neck joint
  • 35" scale
  • 24-fret rosewood fingerboard
  • Quilted maple headstock veneer
  • Abalone Yamaha headstock logo
  • Oval mother-of-pearl fretboard inlays
  • Solid brass bridge
  • 2 alnico-magnet humbuckers
  • Master volume and pickup pan knobs
  • Cut/boost 3-band EQ (Bass, Treble, Mids)
  • 19-11/16" fretboard radius




Choosing the Right Strings

Fred Hamilton; Augusta, GA

Q: I am a new player and need some advice on what gauge strings I should buy for my guitar. I have a Washburn Lyon electric guitar and the strings are getting rusty.

A: The gauge of your strings has a lot to do with the tone and the playability of your guitar.

If you use heavy-gauge strings you will get more tone in the string sound but because they are thicker you will get less flexibility. A lighter-gauge string tends to sound thinner but you will be able to move the string easier while bending notes.

I recommend that you start with a standard .009 gauge set of strings and then as you progress you can decide if you want to go up or down a gauge.

Yours in Music
John McCarthy
Rock House

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TECH TIP - Portable Recording: Rock That Laptop

Yes, You Can Take It With You�Your Recording Studio, That Is
Reprinted from with the permission of the author and publisher Craig Anderton

If you go through withdrawal when you're away from your studio, there's hope: Laptop computers have evolved into serious music-making tools. Not only can they operate as studios unto themselves, they make perfect "satellites" for your main studio. Best of all, today's laptops offer enough power for most types of remote recording, editing, and composing projects.


Although hardcore partisans would likely disagree, I think it really doesn't matter. Many applications are cross-platform, and for those that aren't, roughly equivalent programs exist on both platforms. Mac PowerBooks are great for audio and video; a decent G4 will let you record/play back plenty of tracks, and ReWire connects multiple devices. While PowerBooks used to be much more expensive than Windows equivalents, the price differential continues to narrow.

Windows notebooks are now available in more media-savvy versions, and some companies (such as Alienware and Digital Audio Wave) make laptops designed specifically for audio. But even a standard laptop designed for business will usually do a decent job with multimedia.

Among others, Alienware makes media/music-friendly laptops.


A thornier issue is copy-protected software. If you're miles from home and need to insert a CD periodically for authorization . . . oops. Most software license agreements prohibit running programs on multiple machines; applications that tie protection into running on a specific hardware configuration are especially problematic, because you can't easily uninstall/reinstall every time you want to move from desktop to laptop.

There are a few workarounds. Morally, I have no problem with installing a program on both my desktop and laptop if it's possible. After all, I use only one machine at a time, so I don't feel that violates the spirit of the "only one machine" license. Sometimes you can call the software company, explain your situation, and get another install as long as you're a legit user. Companies don't want to upset paying customers; they just want to discourage the ones who aren't.

Dongles (hardware protection devices that usually plug into a spare USB port) may or may not be a good solution. Those who use only programs with iLok copy protection can stick all their authorizations on one dongle, bring their distribution media with them, and install wherever they like�desktop, laptop, or even when guesting at another studio. Multiple dongles are harder to manage; adding a USB hub reduces portability. In any event, for USB dongles buy a USB extension cord so the dongle doesn't plug directly into your machine. It's way too easy for a dongle to break off when you're on the road.


The hard drives inside most laptops spin slower than the ones in desktops, making it harder to run a zillion tracks. If you're into serious multitracking, make sure there are at least USB 2.0 or FireWire ports so you can add a fast external drive.

To boost drive performance, create separate partitions for program files and audio, and defragment often. Also note that USB memory sticks look like disk drives to the computer, so you can use them as your temporary or even main drive for audio files. However, this technique works best with USB 2.0 devices because of the higher speed compared to USB 1.1 devices. It's important to back up the contents to hard disk; also note that even solid-state memory requires periodic defragmentation.

For non-critical applications, onboard audio may be acceptable, particularly with laptops designed for music. But don't get your hopes up. You're much better adding a USB audio interface or something like the Echo Indigo, which inserts in the computer's card slot.


Buy a really rugged case and a quality CD wallet with heavy outside padding, as you'll likely be carrying valuable distribution and data disks. Throw an extension cord in your luggage, as outlets may not always be where you want them. Get the kind that accepts grounded plugs; not all extension cords do.

And don't forget cool software accessories - check out some of the downloads at Extras. You'll find QWERTY-to-keyboard applets so you can use the typewriter keys to trigger notes, programs that assign joystick motion to controllers, and so on.

Florian B�mers' Mouse Keyboard (Windows only) lets you trigger chords as well as notes, and includes virtual mod and pitch bend wheels you can control with a mouse's scroll wheel. It's a very useful accessory when you don't have a MIDI keyboard for note entry.

So go ahead and rock that laptop�they're not just for PowerPoint presentations and spreadsheets anymore.


Recommended Listening - A Must For Your Collection!

Thomas Leeb, Upside Down
By Teja Gerken
This latest recording from Austrian-born, California-based Thomas Leeb may finally make the self-proclaimed �bastard child of fingerstyle guitar� a household name, at least among fans of progressive acoustic playing in the tradition of Michael Hedges, Preston Reed, and Eric Roche (to whom the album is dedicated). Recorded �live in the studio,� Upside Down is an energetic set of original compositions and creatively arranged cover tunes. Leeb uses a generous array of extended techniques, including alternate tunings, harmonics, hammer-ons, and two-handed tapping, on his Lowdens. But unlike many guitarists who emphasize similar feats of dexterity at the expense of melody, Leeb produces tunes that you�ll find yourself humming long after the CD is over. He also proves that he�s no slave to flashy technique, by confidently taking a �straight� approach to such traditional pieces as the German �Erzherzog Johann Jodler� and the Irish �The Boys of Blue Hill.� And his hard-rocking opener �Albino� puts Leeb into the rare category of solo guitarists whose music you could dance to. Although his solo arrangement of �I Shot the Sheriff� owes more to Eric Clapton�s toned-down version than to Bob Marley�s original, its inclusion (along with Guns N� Roses� �Sweet Child of Mine�) in such a varied program demonstrates the adventurous spirit that helps make Upside Down so enjoyable. (Thomas Leeb,


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