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Guitar Musician e-zine     08/30/2006

In This Issue:

  "My inspiration comes from the message Duke Ellington gave - you are unique, be yourself, put out that thing that is you, then use your work ethic and produce great music."

                                                                           - Kenny Burrell / Jazz Guitar

Some Humor

  The Baptist Dog!

A Baptist preacher and his wife decided to get a new dog. Ever mindful of the congregation, they knew the dog must also be a Baptist. They visited kennel after kennel and explained their needs. Finally, they found a kennel whose owner assured them he had just the dog they wanted.

The owner brought the dog to meet the pastor and his wife. "Fetch the Bible," he commanded.
The dog bounded to the bookshelf, scrutinized the books, located the Bible, and brought it to the owner.

"Now find Psalm 23," he commanded.

The dog dropped the Bible to the floor, and showing marvelous dexterity with his paws, leafed through and finding the correct passage, pointed to it with his paw.

The pastor and his wife were very impressed and purchased the dog.

That evening, a group of church members came to visit. The pastor and his wife began to show off the dog, having him locate several Bible verses. The visitors were very impressed.

One man asked, "Can he do regular dog tricks, too?"

"I haven't tried yet," the pastor replied.

He pointed his finger at the dog. "HEEL!" the pastor commanded. The dog immediately jumped on a chair, placed one paw on the pastor's forehead and began to howl.

The pastor looked at his wife in shock and said, "Good Lord! He's Pentecostal!"


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




Bends, Bends, and More Bends

Scott Sawala; Norwalk, CT

Q: How high am I supposed to bend a note up? I love the sound of a bend and want to do this technique proficiently.

A: There are many ways to bend a note. This is why the technique is so great. The most common bend is the whole-step bend in which you bend the note up one whole step or the equivalent of two frets on the guitar.

Other types of bends include a half-step bend, double pump, step and a half, and the ghost bend just to name a few. I recommend that you experiment and develop your own unique bending techniques that will give you a signature sound.

Hope this helps!

Yours in Music,
John McCarthy
Rock House


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TECH TIP - Lucky 13 Vocal Processing Tips

Find Your Own Voice With Vocals
Reprinted from with the permission of the author and publisher Craig Anderton

Yes, you already know about equalizing voice and how to choose the right mic to flatter a singer. But you're an esteemed visitor to Harmony want more, better, bigger, and further. This baker's dozen of tips will help take your vocals up one more notch.


You want a doubled vocal part, and have loop-recorded a vocal on multiple tracks so you can pick and choose among the best bits to create two killer tracks. Unfortunately, for one short phrase, only one track has the perfect take�maybe the others have flaws, or the singer "hit the jackpot" and couldn't duplicate it properly. Don't worry: Copy the perfect part into the other track, shift its pitch a tiny bit, then delay it by 20-35ms.


Great vocals demand great reverb, so try low diffusion ("density") parameter values. Here's why: Diffusion controls the echo "thickness." High diffusion places echoes closer together, while low diffusion spreads them out. With percussive sounds, low diffusion creates lots of tightly-spaced attacks, like marbles hitting steel. But with voice, which is more sustained, low diffusion gives plenty of reverb effect without overwhelming the vocal from excessive reflections.


Many reverbs offer a frequency crossover point, with separate decay times (RT) for high and low frequencies. To prevent too much competition with midrange instruments, use less decay on the lower frequencies and increase decay on the highs. This adds "air" to the vocals, as well as emphasizes some of the sibilants and "mouth noises" that humanize a vocal. Vary the crossover setting to determine what works best for a particular voice.


With doubled vocals, panning both to center, or panning one more left and one more right, gives a very different overall effect. For example, if background vocals are part of the picture, I almost always put the voice in the center. If I want the voice to cede some of its prominence to the instruments, I'll spread the two tracks out a little bit to "unfocus" the vocal. Use automated panning to set the vocals as appropriate for particular parts of the song.


Remember those creepy, whispery type vocals that Pink Floyd used to do? Try this one on vocals that are more "spoken" than sung, e.g., rap. Plug in your vocoder (software or hardware), and use voice as the modulator and pink noise as the carrier. You may need to reduce the pink noise high frequencies somewhat. Mix it well behind the vocal�just enough to add a creepy, whispery element. Also try delaying it by some rhythmic value, then adjusting its level as appropriate.


I very much like synchronized echo effects added to voice, but only for specific words and passages. You can do this with automated aux send controls; put synchronized delay in an aux bus and turn up the fader when you want delay. This is best if you want apply the same effect to multiple tracks. Or, cut the parts you want to echo, paste them in another track in the same position, and add synchronized delay to that track. This is preferred if you have a limited number of aux buses.


If your digital reverb has multiple algorithms, try using a plate-based preset for voice. In the "old school" days of recording, plate reverbs were often favored for vocals over chamber reverbs, which were used on instruments. "Real" plates have a tighter, somewhat brighter, less diffused sound that works well with vocals. Of course, there's no guarantee your reverb's plate algorithm actually sounds like a real plate, but give it a shot.


If your studio has digital tape (e.g. ADAT), there's probably a variable speed control. Use this to thicken doubled vocals; when you record the doubled vocal, speed up or slow down the tape a bit so that this vocal has a slightly different timbre when you play it back at the normal pitch. One caution: if you speed up the tape for a lower-pitched sound, the timing of the performance had better be extra good. Slowing the tape down magnifies any timing discrepancies.


This trick is as old as the Harmonizer (trademark Eventide), when engineers discovered that shifting pitch downward 10 to 15 cents and mixing the harmonized signal behind the straight vocal added a useful thickening effect. You can do this with any digital pitch-shifting processor, hardware or software. If you're planning to triple the vocal, shift up the second pitch shifter by an amount equal to the downward shift. When tripling, you may want to increase the overall amount of shift.


At one time, Dolby Noise Reduction units were used in studios to reduce noise with analog tape. But they also were used on a lot of background vocals to give an airy, bright sound by encoding with Dolby (usually type A) while recording, but not decoding on playback. What Dolby did was compress above a certain frequency and add pre-emphasis, which is ideal for souping up a vocal's intelligibility. It's not all that easy to find old Dolby units, but when you do, they tend to be dirt cheap.


Vocal processors, by companies such as TC-Helicon, Antares, and DigiTech, provide a whole bunch of vocal effect functions from harmonies to weird vocal formant shifting that can turn choirboys into crusty blues singers (and vice versa). The harmony functions are also useful, and few people are aware of what these things do with toms. If you record a lot of vocals, or do voiceover work, these powerhouse processors offer a really deep bag of tricks.


It's common knowledge that most pop vocals are compressed to some degree. Lately, though, I've been doing very light compression while recording (just enough to smooth out some of the more abrupt level variations), then using loudness maximizer-type processing (e.g., Waves, iZotope Ozone, or Wave Arts processors) on mixdown. To my ears, this gives a more "raw" sound (as opposed to "smooth") than using compression alone. This seems particularly effective on rock vocals.


Okay, we like echoes on voice. A somewhat rare feature in digital-land is the ability to modulate delay time slightly. This "feature" was an inherent part of tape echo, as the tape speed was never perfect. If your delay doesn't offer modulation, you can simulate the same effect by splitting off the delayed sound through a chorus or flanger set for a short delay, with a very slight amount of modulation (try a random modulation source if possible).


Recommended Listening - A Must For Your Collection!

Peter Mulvey, The Knuckleball Suite
By Celine Keating
Few singer-songwriters provide source notes for their lyrics, but Peter Mulvey is quirky and erudite enough to do just that. His deeper-than-deep gravelly voice conveys a rock-of-ages gravitas, while on guitar he�s adept at everything from tender acoustic picking to rootsy blues and jazz. Like a knuckleball, Boston-based Mulvey�s fifth release keeps listeners guessing which direction he�ll take as he ranges from Telecaster-driven rock to Celtic ballad to country swing, with meditations on politics, art, philosophy, love, and other puzzles. Backing him in swinging, seamless perfection are producer David Goodrich (banjo, guitar), Lou Ulrich (bass), Mike Piehl (drums), Kris Delmhorst (fiddle, vocals), and others. Among the standout tracks is �Thorn,� a simple litany of metaphors (�you my lonely winter playground, you my April thaw�) punctuated by clear, ringing notes; it�s emblematic of the album�s overall brilliance�and is sure to melt heart's galore. (Signature Sounds,


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