Guitar Musician e-zine     10/04/2006

In This Issue:


"... that's one of the cool things about going to local bars: seeing what people are doing and jamming with them. I'm a huge advocate of jamming with others; you learn a lot. So I love to go and do that - even if people wipe the stage up with you.."

- Slash - Guitar - Guns & Roses, Velvet Revolver, Solo

Some Humor


A husband and wife go to a counselor after 25 years of marriage. The counselor asks them what the problem is and the wife goes into a tirade listing every problem they have ever had in the 25 years they've been married. She goes on and on and on.

Finally, the counselor gets up, walks around the desk, embraces the wife and kisses her passionately. The woman shuts up and sits quietly in a daze.

The counselor turns to the husband and says, "This is what your wife needs at least three times a week. Can you do this?"

The husband thinks for a moment and replies, "Well, I can drop her off here on Mondays and Wednesdays, but on Fridays, I fish."

A Lesson For The Learning

Interested in guitar lessons? - Be sure and check out the guitar lessons offered by Andrew Koblick at Amazing Guitar


Sennheiser EW 135 G2 and EW 112 G2

Wireless mic systems redefined and perfected

By Louise Appel

Sennheiser's Evolution Wireless Generation 2 remote microphone systems take an almost flawless technology and remove the "almost." The EW 112 Clip-on and EW 135 Handheld Systems are sonically indistinguishable from high-end cabled systems while delivering total freedom of movement up to 150' with amazing clarity, robust signal strength, and no dropouts. And Sennheiser has added high-performance features like AA battery operation with battery status LCDs, audio signal metering on the transmitters, XLR jacks on the rackmount receivers, plus roadworthy metal construction.

Sennheiser EW 135 G2 and EW 112 G2
An industry legend
My retro R&B stage act is kinetic to say the least. My two backup singers and I work as much on choreography and rehearsing dance steps as we do on singing. As such, a reliable wireless system is not just cool-it's a necessity. When I was first creating the act back in the mid-'90s I asked around for the best wireless systems out there. Three different sound engineers directed me to Sennheiser. What made up my mind was hearing that Sennheiser systems were used for the Broadway musical Starlight Express. A wireless system that could work perfectly for dozens of singers/actors wearing metal costumes and zipping around on roller skates through a set with 60 tons of steel should definitely be able to handle a few women making Motown moves.

The first three hand-held systems I bought have worked so perfectly I haven't replaced them, and they've held up to nine years of regular use, including road tours every summer. (OK, we're not the Supremes, but we're still working.) All that history notwithstanding, the Evolution G2 Series has so many added benefits I think it might be time to upgrade.

Marvelous musicality
Great signal strength and reception don't mean much if the signal is not pleasing. But the microphones I received for review-the SKM 135 hand-held that comes with the EW 135 System and the ME2 lavalier with the EW 112 System-both deliver a crisp, full signal without brittleness or exaggerated high frequencies. The ME2 is an omnidirectional clip-on condenser mic with great sensitivity perfect for theater, worship, and educational applications.

The e835 capsule in the SKM 135 is a dynamic cardioid element that delivers really sweet, round tones for singers. The transmitter is a well-balanced and ruggedly constructed unit that features an LCD display with an audio signal meter; transmission frequency readout; channel, mute, and battery level indicators. A rotating cover on the base closes all control surfaces or provides access to the mute switch, the on/off button with LED indicator, or the frequency set buttons. Unscrew the bottom and slide it out for quick, easy access to the battery compartment which holds two AA batteries or an optional rechargeable battery pack. The on/off button requires a few seconds to activate in order to avoid inadvertently shutting off the mic during performance. The compact SK 100 G2 transmitter that accompanies the EW 112 System features the same functionality and LCD indicators as the SKM 135 hand-held unit.

Click to Enlarge
Spot-on signal clarity
The really amazing part of the G2 systems is the part you don't see or hear. Sennheiser's AutoScan quickly finds available channels in any venue while a broader 36MHz bandwidth makes a huge range of channels available for the scanning. A pilot tone squelch function new to the G2 Series ensures that when the transmitter is off, there is no noise coming out of the receiver. This function can be bypassed so that G2 mics and bodypacks can be used with first-generation receivers.

The rackmountable EM 100 G2 receiver that comes with both the EW 112 and EW 135 Systems is very compact, taking up only half a rackspace. Its two antennae lock on in a quick, no-nonsense manner. Its LCD sports the same features as the one on the transmitters and adds RF signal and antenna indicators. The whole setup and basic operation of both these systems is so simple you don't need any instructions. Just plug everything in, turn it on, and you're live. In the event you're getting interference on the preset frequency, scanning for available channels and selecting one is very simple. It took me less than five minutes with the manual to learn to do this. The other advanced functions were equally easy to learn using the clear menu diagrams in the manual.

Click to Enlarge
Range rover
The range of both systems was amazing. I had a friend take the hand-held for a walk while I monitored the signal inside my apartment. He was outside the building, one floor down, and more than 150' away before there was any signal dropout. That's plenty of range even if you're singing the "Star Spangled Banner" at the 50-yard-line and your receiver is down at the end of the field.

Frankly, I didn't think there was much room for improvement over the original Sennheiser Evolution Wireless systems. Clearly, I was wrong. A couple of major enhancements and a lot of very intelligent smaller ones add up to an overall huge improvement. Kudos to Sennheiser for their relentless pursuit of perfection.

Features & Specs

EW 112 G2 System EW 135 G2 System
  • EM 100 G2 receiver with 2 telescopic antennae
  • SK 100 G2 bodypack transmitter
  • ME 2 clip-on omnidirectional lavalier microphone
  • Alkaline batteries included
  • EM 100 G2 receiver with 2 telescopic antennae
  • SKM 100 G2 handheld dynamic cardioid microphone with e835 mic head
  • Microphone clamp
  • Alkaline batteries included
Both systems feature
  • 8 banks of 4 preset channels
  • One bank of 4 user-selectable channels
  • Current channel bank displays
  • Increased bandwidth
  • Channel and bank indicators
  • Frequency indicators
  • 4-step battery status display
  • Lock mode with indicator
  • Pilot signal reception with indicator
  • AA battery operation or optional rechargeable cell on transmitters
  • Mute with indicator
  • 7-step level display for received audio signal
  • 7-step level display for received RF signal
  • XLR and ¼" outputs on receiver




The Van Halen Technique Revealed

Gavin McKinley; Burnsville, MN

Q: I love the style and sound of Eddie Van Halen, he is my favorite guitarist. I have been playing guitar for a year and a half now and really want to learn how Mr. Van Halen gets the guitar to sound like it does in Eruption. I have tried all sorts of scales and riffs and I can't seem to get close to the sound he gets at the end of that piece. Can you give me some guidance before I break my guitar...please?

A: Don't break your axe, I'll help you... I promise! This technique is called Bi-Dextral Hammer Ons, or right hand tapping. He actually frets notes on the neck with both hands. Let me get you started.
  1. Hold your fretting hand first finger on the 2nd fret of the 2nd string.
  2. Bring you picking hand index finger to the neck and hammer the tip on the 2nd string 9th fret, this should sound out that note.
  3. Then snap or pull that index finger off this should sound the note on the 2nd fret that you had pressed down.
  4. The last step is to hammer down your fretting hands 4th finger on the 5th fret.
By repeating these steps and picking up speed you should start to recognize the sound of the master himself... the Van Halen man.

Hope this helps!

Yours in Music
John McCarthy
Rock House


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The Care and Feeding of Your Acoustic Guitar

Presented by

Proper Care of Your Guitar
Humidity, Temperature, and Storage

Your guitar is made of thin wood, which is easily affected by temperature and humidity. This combination is the most important single part of your guitar's surroundings. Martin keeps its factory at a constant 45-55 percent humidity and 72-77 degrees Fahrenheit. If either humidity or temperature get far away from these factory conditions, your guitar is in danger. A rapid change in temperature or exposure to cold can cause small cracks in the finish. These are lacquer checks. We recommend the use of a hygrometer/thermometer to measure the relative humidity and temperature surrounding your guitar.

As humidity increases, moisture content of wood goes up rapidly, causing it to expand and swell. A gradual increase in humidity won't generally do permanent damage to your instrument. When very high humidity is combined with high temperature, glue joints could possibly become weakened and may even open slightly. If your guitar is exposed to high temperature or humidity for any length of time, the glue under the bridge could weaken causing the bridge to pull off.

Rapid changes in local humidity are what you want to guard against. If, for instance, you place your guitar near a source of dry heat, the humidity around it will drop much faster than it would naturally, although a sudden dry spell can have the same effect. If the moisture tent of wood is forced down in a hurry, portions of it shrink faster than others, causing cracks and open joints. Don't set your instrument next to a source of heat or hang it on a wall where it will dry out. At all costs, avoid hanging your guitar on an outside wall during winter months. The wall will be cooler than the inside air. The result is a conflict between the temperature of the top and back, with potential damage as a result.

Should the guitar be exposed to freezing temperatures, let it warm to room temperature while still in its case. This lets it come up to room temperature more slowly, decreasing the possibility of wood and finish cracks.

Caution should be taken if you choose to use a humidifier to combat low humidity. Moisture in direct contact with the guitar could cause damage, as can the rubber or vinyl parts of a humidifier.

We recommend storing your guitar in its case when not in use. Humidity is easier to control in a smaller space. Don't bother loosening the strings when putting your guitar away unless it won't be used again for several months. Constantly tightening and loosening strings quickly ruins their sound.

The Martin hard case supports the neck and body of your guitar as evenly as possible. It's important that you don't let anything lie under the head (the tuning machine end), as this could damage the neck and body.

Repairs to your instrument should be performed by an authorized repair person.

Cleaning the Finish

The best way to clean your guitar is with a warm, damp cloth. This will remove harmful chemicals. Your guitar is coated in the highest-grade finish available and is sensitive. Any type of solvent, especially those found in plastic, vinyl, and leather straps, will mar the finish, as will alcohol, citric acid, aftershave lotion, insect repellent, and a number of related substances. Perspiration can also damage your guitar, so keep it dry. To polish it, use the special Martin polish and a clean Martin polishing cloth. We recommend wiping down your instrument and strings with a soft, dry cloth before storing to remove harmful skin oils. Products containing silicone should not be used.

Tuning Machine Maintenance

Tuning machines normally need very little care other than periodic lubrication. Enclosed machines, the type with a cover over the gears, are lubricated by the manufacturer, but the open type should be lubricated once or twice a year. Just put a little household petroleum jelly on the end of a toothpick and place the jelly in the gears. Be careful not to use too much because it catches dust which can wear out the machines.

Some types of machines are adjustable for ease of tuning. The open type can be made harder to turn by tightening the screw in the middle of the gear. Check this screw every time you replace the strings because it can work loose. Most enclosed machines have a screw in the end of the tuning knob that will make the machines harder to turn when the screw is tightened. Not much tension is needed, so don't overtighten the adjusting screws.

Inserting the Bridge and Endpins

The strings are held in place at the bridge by a small notch at the front of each bridge pin. It is important that the pin slot be facing straight forward so the string is properly aligned on the bridge saddle. Make sure that the ball end of the string is pulled up tightly against the inside of the top before inserting the bridge pin.

Too often bridge pins are hammered in so hard that they become wedged and split the bridge. After inserting the string and pin, a solid push with your thumb is all that is needed.

The endpin is tapered and is wedged into the bottom end of the guitar. It is not glued in. It should be checked frequently to make sure it has not worked loose.


Different styles of playing demand different types of strings; but, unless you are a specialist in a particular style, your guitar came with strings that will normally give the best results. You may want to make your guitar easier to play and use one of our lighter string sets, but your bridge saddle and neck may have to be adjusted to prevent fret buzz. A classical guitar has much lighter bracing than the usual steel-string acoustic guitar, and using steel strings on it will literally pull it apart.

Strings don't last forever. As you play your guitar, you will notice its sound will gradually lose brilliance. It will begin to sound slightly muffled because the strings have begun to wear out. Human skin moisture causes strings to become dirty and corrode, and this layer of corrosion eventually deadens the sound of the strings. At this point, the entire set should be replaced. Replacing only one string causes an unbalanced sound.


Adjusting the Action

Often as a guitar ages, it seems to get harder to play. This is because the height of the strings above the fingerboard has increased slightly. This height, usually called "action," is very important to the playability of the instrument. However, if the strings are too low, they will buzz against the frets. The action can be adjusted at the bridge and saddle by an authorized repair person.

The adjustable neck rod is not for action adjustments; it is to be used to obtain the proper neck relief and should also be performed by an authorized repair person. Though straightening will have an effect, the neck should not be adjusted if it is already in proper alignment.

Necks and Tops

Neck bow itself is often misunderstood and talked about as if it is the worst thing that can happen to a guitar. For some playing styles, a slight forward bow can prevent buzzes. With the adjustable neck rod, the neck can be adjusted for relative straightness. This is not considered to be a consumer adjustment and should be made by properly equipped Martin-authorized distributors.

Sometimes sighting down the neck gives the illusion of neck bow when it is actually within specifications. This is because the top will rise and fall with changes in temperature and humidity. This swelling raises the end of the fingerboard, which is actually attached to the top rather than the neck. If this should become too high, it might need adjustment or repair.

The bellying of the top is normal and should be expected. The top is actually made with an arch. This will increase over a period of time due to string stress and/or high humidity. Heavy-gauge strings should not be used. If the bellying becomes excessive, the saddle and bridge may need to be lowered to improve the playability.

Guitar Care While Traveling

The guitar probably travels more than any other musical instrument in the world, and it'll only be a matter of time before you take yours on its first trip. If you're going to take your guitar on the road with you, remember, it's not just another piece of baggage. You have to make an effort to protect it.

If you're traveling by car, don't make your guitar ride in the trunk. It's much safer in the back seat because most car trunks are neither heated nor ventilated, so the temperatures can fluctuate wildly. Freezing or overheating your guitar is an invitation for a crack or warp to occur. Your guitar is assembled with glues that can be affected by heat causing breakdown and loosening of glue adhesion. Most commonly affected is the bridge.

Air travel has become the most popular mode of commercial transportation, but protection of your instrument is important. Airlines don't set out to damage guitars intentionally, but a conveyor system can't tell a guitar from other baggage. Airlines may consider a guitar to be too fragile for their handling and may require that a waiver be signed which limits or removes their liability. Don't sign such a document if you can avoid it. Even a hard case can't always protect a guitar from damage from mishandling by individuals or commercial carriers.

Occasionally you can bypass the usual baggage handling system by asking to take your guitar to the boarding area where it can be tagged and hand carried to the airplane. Upon arrival, notify the flight attendant or customer service representative and try to retrieve it at the gate. Not all airlines give you this option.

There are size restrictions on carry-on luggage. It must fit in the overhead bin or under the seat ahead of you. Some flight attendants may allow you to try the overhead bin, but if it doesn't fit, it may have to be checked as baggage. Loosening the strings and using a soft cotton packing material to keep the guitar tight in its case will decrease the possibility of damage while a guitar is in the baggage compartment. Martin's hard case will help, but a good case is not a cure-all for careless handling or accidents.

Using Guitar Straps

Your C.F. Martin instrument is coated with multiple thin layers of high-grade finish. Our finish can be adversely affected by interaction with certain synthetic straps and can also be affected by leather straps.

Vinyl and synthetic leathers contain solvents that keep the material soft and supple. These solvents will transfer to the instrument's finish and cause damage. Do not allow such straps to contact the finish. The best procedure is to always remove your strap from your guitar after use and store separately. Vinyl sofas, chairs, etc., should also be avoided.


How to String a Steel-String Guitar

Insert each string in its proper hole in the bridge.
Keep the heaviest portion of the double winding facing away from the soundhole.

The string should be positioned with the bridge pin notch facing the string.

The strings are held in place at the bridge by a small notch in the front edge of each bridge pin.
Make sure that the ball end of the string is pulled tightly up against the inside of the top before inserting the bridge pin. Older Martin guitars may have small slots in the front of the bridge pin holes, but these are no longer necessary with the new style bridge pins. After inserting the string and pin, a firm push with your thumb on the pin is all that is needed to keep in place.
The tension of the string and the proper positioning of the slot in the bridge pin will hold the saddle in place and the strings in proper alignment.

You might occasionally encounter an older guitar with a thin bridge or a string with a longer double winding adjacent to the ball end.
Shown above is an old luthier's trick or remedy. An extra ball from an old string is placed over the string and drawn against the first ball. This will effectively back the string into the bridge, removing the heavy area of the string from direct saddle contact.

(Solid Headstock)
The string is passed through the string hole near the top of the tuning machine post.

After coming through the string hole, the string is wound one-half way around the tuning machine post. Clockwise for the three bass strings; counterclockwise for the three treble strings.

After passing under the longer part of the string, the short portion is bent back over it. This will prevent string slippage.

After the string is brought up to pitch (standard tuning), it may be clipped flush with the top of the tuning machine post.
Note that a string should pass around the shaft at least one full time. Windings should be under the previous one, or closer to the base of the shaft.

(Slotted Headstock)
The string is passed through the tuning machine slot from front to rear.

The string is brought around the under side and back to the front.
Be careful not to drag the string across the surface of the headplate, you may accidentally etch the finish.

The end is brought around the string and pulled back toward the end of the headstock.
This establishes a lock which will prevent slippage. Note that when the string is tightened the 'lock' will hold in place.

When brought up to standard pitch, there should be at least two full windings on the shaft.
The end of the string may be cut off. We recommend leaving them at a length of 1/8", drawn through to the back for the neatest appearance.

Recommended Listening - A Must For Your Collection!

Bruce Cockburn, Life Short Call Now
Bruce Coburn
By Kenny Berkowitz
Over the last 35 years, Cockburn’s songs have grown increasingly compact, taut, and difficult. No other contemporary songwriter is more intellectually ambitious, politically uncompromising, or spiritually restless, and no issue is too complex for him to tackle. His 29th album, Life Short Call Now, is one of his best; on it, he quietly builds its songs in layers, beginning with looping, delicately filigreed acoustic fingerpicking. On the album’s three instrumentals, that’s really all he needs—if you haven’t heard his last album, Speechless (Rounder), which was entirely instrumental, you should—but on these songs he sings lines like “These chains of flesh are sour and sweet” (from “See You Tomorrow”) or “Grab that last bottle full of gasoline / Light a toast to yesterday” (from “Mystery”) in the barest vocal drone, which gives them a stark, visceral intensity. Then, defying folkie logic, he’s joined by glockenspiel, or flugelhorn, or melodica, or string orchestra, or a choir of multi-tracked Ani DiFrancos. Add them all together and you’ve got an unstable, intoxicating combination, especially on the pained “Beautiful Creatures,” about the callousness of humankind destroying the natural world, and the bitter, bleak “This Is Baghdad,” about the debacle of yet another war. It is strong medicine from start to finish—bracing, unsettling, and beautiful. (Rounder,


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