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Guitar Musician e-zine     09/07/05

In This Issue:

  "Hell is a half-filled auditorium."

                                             -Robert Frost (1874-1963)

Some Humor

  Shaky Arms Hotel

A man and his wife check into a hotel. The husband wants to have a drink at the bar, but his wife is extremely tired so she decides to go on up to their room to rest. She lies down on the bed... just then, and elevated train passes by very close to the window and shakes the room so hard she's thrown out of the bed.  Thinking this must be a freak occurrence, she lies down once more. Again a train shakes the room so violently, she's pitched to the floor.

Exasperated, she calls the front desk, asks for the manager.  The manager says he'll be right up.  The manager is skeptical but the wife insists the story is true.

"Look... lie here on the bed -- you'll be thrown right to the floor!"

So he lies down next to the wife.   Just then the husband walks in. "What," he says, "are you doing here?"

The manager calmly replies, "Would you believe I'm waiting for a train?"


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.




Getting a Great Distortion Sound

Flora Henson; Denmark


Q: I am a beginner playing the electric guitar. I purchased an entire Peavey Backstage Guitar Package for Beginners. The Rock House DVD that came with it was quite informative in teaching me how to play.

The question I want to ask is how to create the 'electric' sound that John McCarthy has when playing the section about the Blues? Every time I practice I can only get the typical acoustic sound not even close to his.

Thanks for your support!

A: The sound that you hear in that section is called distortion and there are two ways to achieve this sound.

  1. Using your amps settings you can get a good distortion sound; turn the master volume down to two then put the gain, or saturation knob, up all the way. Then use the master volume to get the overall level you desire. I like to start with the bass and treble knobs half way up and adjust them to the room I am playing in higher or lower.
  2. You can use effects pedals to generate the distortion sound. There are many on the market to choose. Look for either a distortion or overdrive pedal.

Let your ears be the deciding factor to which devices you use to create your ultimate guitar sound.

Hope this helps!

Yours in Music
John McCarthy
Rock House


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    Nickel for Your Thoughts - An Interview with Nickelback
    By Laura Whitmore

    Nickelback have quickly gained a reputation for penning insightful, ubiquitous rock anthems, and have attracted loyal masses with their powerful and melodic message. After achieving breakthrough in their native Canada, their first album, The State, hit the top ten on the Mainstream Rock charts with "Breath" and "Leader of Men." "It was fantastic," enthused guitarist Ryan Peake. "The snowball effect of the album was phenomenal. We started doing well in Canada and then the buzz in the States took over. It totally went off the hook and was a great kickstart for us!" After touring ceaselessly for over 200 shows, the band had gone from virtual unknowns to playing in front of over a million people alongside the likes of Creed, 3 Doors Down, Fuel and more.

    Silver Side Up, their 2002 follow-up release, went on to enjoy multi-platinum certification Silver Side Up saw singer Chad Kroeger write more personal, introspective lyrics that seem to have struck a note with their growing audience. Later, when the single "How You Remind Me" went on to gain a number one position on both the U.S. and Canadian charts, it was only the second time in history since the Guess Who's "American Woman" that a Canadian band hit the top of both those charts simultaneously. And their smash hit "Hero" from the Spiderman soundtrack has garnered them even more critical and popular acclaim.


    Nickel for Your Thoughts - An Interview with Nickelback

    Nickelback's overwhelming success is also due partly to their immense commitment to touring. Singer/guitarist Chad Kroeger, guitarist Ryan Peake, bassist Mike Kroeger and drummer Ryan Vikedal have sustained a nearly constant schedule of live shows for the last few years. Mike explained, "We really just made our name by never turning down the opportunity to play a show. It didn't matter where it was or what the weather was like - we were there. I mean, we would go out in weather that was just nasty, load up the gear and go play." One piece of gear they have been glad to incorporate into their shows is the VOX Valvetronix AD120VT combo amplifier.

    Apart from its many advanced effects, VOX Valvetronix offers an interesting advantage for a modeling amp: its underlying structure is so expertly designed, it turns out an effortless, great-sounding performance regardless of which tube amp it's modeling. Peake concurs, "I'm using it for the clean channel, which I really like. It's versatile and it sounds great. Very cool."

    Chad Kroeger expounds, "I'm also using it for my clean tone. I've got my tech switching around and grabbing the many different effects that the amp offers while I'm playing. So he's switching to a lot of the stuff that's built right into the amp while I'm going through the set. I've found it really convenient to be able to get such a variety of tones and effects out of one amp."

    Look for their new release soon and it's a certainty these road warriors will be coming to a stage near you.

    Recommended Listening - A Must For Your Collection!

    John Doyle, Wayward Son
    By Scott Nygaard
    Irish guitarist/singer John Doyle first became known for the ferocious rhythm playing with which he drove the Irish band Solas. Since recording his first solo album (Evening Comes Early) and playing on albums by Kate Rusby, Tim O�Brien, Liz Carroll, and others, the full extent of his talents as a fingerstyle accompanist, fiddle-tune flatpicker, singer, and songwriter have been revealed. But a deep sense of groove still pervades everything he does, and for his second solo album he�s assembled an incredible acoustic power trio with bassist Danny Thompson and percussionist Kenny Malone, augmented by fiddlers Stuart Duncan, Casey Driessen, John McCusker, and Carroll, as well as former Solas mates Seamus Egan (whistle) and John Williams (accordion). The band�s inventive and infectious Celtic/newgrass groove provides the perfect bed for Doyle�s mellow, relaxed voice�joined on these English, Irish, and American folk songs by Rusby, O�Brien, and Linda Thompson. Doyle�s fiery, nuanced flatpicking leads the traditional and original dance-tune medleys, and his guitar is front and center on everything else, whether he�s driving the band with his signature, syncopated attack or spinning folk filigree behind the singing. Yet this is not a �guitar album,� just one of the best all-around traditional folk albums of the young century. (Compass,


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    Until Next Time,
    whistle while you work,

    Guitar Musician

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