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Guitar Musician e-zine 10/19/05
In This Issue:
| "...my policy is not how fast you play, it's not how much
you play but it's what you play and where you play it ... play for the
commercial side of the music ... the word I still use today is called
"simplicity" .. it is so important that you use simplicity in your playing
and in your music ..."
- James Burton / Lead Guitar Elvis Presley, Ricky Nelson, EmmyLou Harris, John Denver
A young doctor had moved out to a small community to replace the
retiring country doctor.
The older doctor suggested the young one accompany him on his rounds so the community could become used to a new doctor.
At the first house a woman complained, "I've been a little sick to my stomach." The older doctor said, "Well, you've probably been overdoing the fresh fruit. Why not cut back on the amount you've been eating and see if that does the trick?"
As they left the younger man said, "You didn't even examine that woman. How did you arrive at your diagnosis so quickly?"
"I didn't have to. You noticed I dropped my stethoscope on the floor in here? When I bent over to pick it up, I noticed a half-dozen banana peels in the trash. That was what probably was making her sick."
"Huh," the younger doctor said, "pretty clever. I think I'll try that at the next house."
Arriving at the next house, they spent several minutes talking with a younger woman. She complained that she just didn't have the energy she once did. "I'm feeling terribly run down lately."
"You've probably been doing too much work for the church," the younger doctor told her. "Perhaps you should cut back a bit and see if that helps."
As they left, the elder doc said, "Your diagnosis is almost certainly correct, but how did you arrive at it?"
"Well, just as you did at the last house, I dropped my stethoscope and when I bent down to retrieve it, I saw the preacher under the bed."
A Lesson For The Learning by Andrew Koblick
INVERSIONS - Part 1
This lesson will help you understand how to get different voicings out of three note major chords.
A major chord is made up of three notes:
1 3 5 of the major scale or Do Mi So.
Here is your basic chord A Major.
A Major Chord
The notes in the Chord are.
A = Do = 1
C# = Mi = 3
E = So = 5
In the standard Open form the notes are arranged:
1 5 1 3 5
A E A C# E
What is an inversion?
An Inversion is a chord played in forms where the Root note (The 1 or Do) is not the lowest note.
So the possibilities are the 3 or 5 is the lowest note.
Using the A major Chord above a simple way to play an inversion is to
NOT play the A string.
Thus creating a chord of 5 1 3 5.
D string 2nd fret = E = 5
G string 2nd Fret = A = 1
B string 2nd Fret = C# = 3
E string Open = E = 5
The difference is subtle but sometimes that is the key to finding the correct sound.
Next week I will go into more inversions using the C Major Chord.
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GUITAR Q AND A
Playing Bass with the Drummer
James Finland; Baltimore, MD
Q: I am just starting a band and want to know how to create bass lines to our original songs we are writing. I have gone through the Rock House Method "Learn Rock Bass" Beginner and Intermediate programs so I do have good playing technique and scale knowledge.
A: It sounds like you are on your way to a great music career keep up the great work.
Here are some good tips to help you start creating Bass lines to the songs.
Hope this helps!
Yours in Music
Joe Satriani: Yes. Finally after all these years I got together with Peavey and we built an amp that we call the JSX. This is an all-tube, 100-watt, 3-channel head with all the bells and whistles on it. It came about after a couple of years of me talking with different amp manufacturers about doing something. At the end of a lot of these discussions I realized that some amp companies are just trying to make a better Fender� Twin or a better Marshall. I really didn't think that was a worthwhile endeavor. Because the classic Fender Twins and Bassmans� are great and they're plentiful. So why would you go and try to do it all over again? And they do quite a good job creating variations of it, like the Cyber-Twin�.
And the same is true of Marshalls. Now you can buy reissues of their most famous design if you like the old stuff. And it's great. If you want Marshall you go to Marshall. So I wasn't interested in being used by any company to help them create something to compete with what I think is already a solid performer. I know I'm going to wind up using the originals in the studio anyway. I can't make an album with one amp. I don't think any company that makes an agreement with me is going to expect me to use just one amp all the time for the rest of my life.
So I started looking at the whole logic of having your own amp. I thought for me it would be to try to capture that sound of the tubes really screamin'. Which is something that traditional amps don't do and that's why we have all these stomp boxes and tube drivers and stuff. So I thought it would be great if we had an amp that just did it. Plus, it should have a clean channel that sounds great clean but takes a distortion pedal better than a lot of amps that don't take distortion pedals too well. I was kind of leaning somewhere between a Fender, a Vox AC30, and a Marshall 100-watt.
Peavey's engineer James Brown has been with Peavey about 17 years, I think. He did the basic design for 2 Peavey amps I really love-the Classic 50. I remember discovering that amp at a used guitar shop once. It was like a dream come true, like a true Fender amp that finally had all the gain that you wanted so you didn't have to use a pedal. I used that quite a lot on a lot of records. And the other one I like that he designed is the 5150. I've had one ever since they came out. It's on two or three songs on every album I've made since. But those amps weren't precisely what I needed on the road.
So I approached James Brown, "I need this clean channel that you can plug a bunch of stomp boxes into and it will sound just like a great amp with all the gain you want rather than a clean amp with a cheesy distortion box in front of it" [laughs]. Creating that has to do with gain stages and EQ and a lot of clever engineering. The next thing I wanted to do was create a crunch channel that was like the Classic 50 with a little less gain and more punch. So it would chunk more but didn't necessarily have to go to 11. I wanted it to stop at nine and a half or so.
I noticed that the more gain you pile on, the less forceful and punchy it gets. That's why when you plug into a Marshall it's all punch. If you want it to distort you kind of have to turn it up and leave the room, or at least walk behind it. So I took the gain on the crunch channel to where it would sound like your favorite Blackface Deluxe Reverb on that perfect night where you turn it to eight and it just screams. But it's got a bit more oomph, like a Marshall.
For the Ultra channel, we used Peavy's XXX as a model. This is a really cool, really modern amp with all the gain you could possibly want. I asked them to re-contour the EQ so it would be more vintage-like and back off the gain a little so we could get more punch in. The clean channel was already set up so you could use something like the Fulltone or Boss DS-1-all the gain you could possibly want nice and compressed and in a little box. So the Ultra channel is set up so you could get all the gain you want at nine but could still go back to playing rhythm without changing channels.
To add variation to the Crunch and Ultra channels we added a Fat Switch. You don't have to use it in conjunction with the resonance controls and it extends the low end to give you a much bigger, beefier sound. If you're really looking for that fat, chunky subwoofer thing you flip the switch and it extends the way the bass control works.
We also added variable presence and resonance controls on the front panel. I was adamant about that. I said, "Every control has got to be on the front. Because I'm tired of reaching around behind my amp fiddling around trying to find stuff." James did that and also took the noise gate from the XXX and made it variable. If you're playing real loud, for example, the volume feeds back through the pickups and increases the gain, which means you need a different sensitivity on the noise gate for the best sound. It's right on the front so that if you're playing, say, a loud Linkin Park song and you then need to switch to, say, a Stevie Ray Vaughan song, you can just turn around and dial that noise gate out. I'm really pleased that he was able to get all the controls up front.
And another improvement that came so late we couldn't get it in the press is that we added a low gain input. Sometimes you might have a guitar that has, like, DiMarzio Super Distortions in it. You like it for the tone, but you really don't want to distort the input for the clean channel. So it's easy to use the low-gain input so you won't distort on the Clean channel and you can just make up by pushing the volume on the Crunch and Ultra channels.
I found out through James that by accident, when you plug a footswitch into the low-gain input and your guitar is plugged into the high-gain input, that footswitch will act as an input switcher. It will actually transform the high-gain input into a low-gain input which is, I think, six decibels lower. He hadn't realized that was a byproduct of the way the thing is powered until a customer pointed it out. Plus, the JSX comes with a footswitch pedal that navigates you through turning your effects loop on and off and gets you through the three channels. And we've opened up the high end a little, so it's more open-ended on top, like a Fender.
And of course the JSX looks cool. We have two convex chrome pieces on the ends, which I think looks really killer. At a distance they create a big "S." And for people who like a more vintage- or boutique-looking amp I had them make it so that you could unscrew the chrome end pieces and you get a really cool grill that lets you see through the entire amp. The amp is very well vented.
MF: Have you been playing out with your new amp?
JS: I did a risky thing. In late August I took the very first prototype into the studio one night and recorded a 10-minute jam with Jeff and Matt, the guys from my band. It was the first time for me playing through this amp in a professional situation. We recorded this jam and it wound up on the record. It was just a really inspired moment between the three of us. You can hear me switching. And sometimes I play and stop for a couple of seconds, step on some pedals.
This is really embarrassing, but I had neglected to bring the footpedal with me to the studio. So I had to do all the channel switching with my hand [laughs]. There's times when there's like a gap and then the tone changes, and that's me just switching channels.
MF: You have to preserve those magic moments.
JS: Yeah, but the good thing is that the switch for the channels is on the front. I knew it was a good thing to have all the controls on the front for idiots like me who forget to bring their channel-switching pedal [laughs]. Or if the footswitch fails you can function at a gig without it.
MF: I noticed when you played this amp for us that you were playing at extremely low volume without sacrificing the definition or the punch, and the sweetness of the tone was still there.
JS: Yeah, it's a very sweet-sounding amp. James Brown put it well when he said it's more like a vintage amp with all the gain you've always wanted, as opposed to an amp with two feet in the modern world that always operates the same no matter how hard you push it. By turning the gain down and volume up you can make it sound like a Fender Twin or a Deluxe Reverb or something. By bringing the gain up, the volume down, and the master up, it behaves more like a modern amp that doesn't break up in the low end and still gives you that sweet tone.
It took a while to get this thing together. The one we're looking at now is probably prototype five or six. I took the first one out on the G3 tour. And every week and a half I got a new prototype. We worked channel by channel. For both the G3 Live in Denver DVD and Rockin' in the Free World- which was recorded the following night in Kansas City-I was using the second prototype before the fat switches and before we opened up more of the high end. So it has more midrange peak, which sounded great with certain pickup selections.
At certain stops along the way James would come meet me. He met me in Atlanta and we tweaked it right out in the open there. By the time we played the last three shows-two in New York and one in Boston-I had version five, which is very close to the model that's hitting the market. After that we just added a little more low end and opened up the high end a little more so the amp stays bright no matter how aggressively you play.
MF: When you play different venues do you have to change your volume or is your stage volume pretty constant?
JS: We do have to turn down. I don't think I ever play with my amp louder than about 114dB at three feet away with the most sensitive weighting. I prefer if it's around 110dB. Of course when you step away from it the volume drops dramatically. But if you play a theater that was designed for real theater or opera you have to really turn your volume down.
MF: I'm struck by the simplicity of your studio. Years ago everyone thought they had to have $200,000 worth of recording equipment to get professional results. Yet you've sold eight million copies of albums that were made on a simple, direct recording system that's attainable by most musicians who are really serious about recording their own music.
JS: Absolutely. It's got to be the most exciting time in the history of the world for people who want to record at home, or just remotely. It's so affordable. The stuff you see here-although it looks kind of Spartan-when you really look at it, it's the cream of the crop of recording gear.
I've got a G5 Mac computer. I've got an HD ProTools rig. I've got a set of small Genelec studio monitors that are sized for the room. I did have a professional engineer come and tune the room so it is completely flat. What you record here will sound exactly the same when you bring it to another professional studio.
MF: When you say "tune the room" do you mean tune the room or tune the monitors.
JS: To tune a room you use EQ to make up for or to take away things that the room is exaggerating. So I'm using a Meyer Sound Studio 10S for that.
MF: The DBX Drive Racks do the same type of thing.
JS: Right. Before you used the word "direct" and that's so important. Because all you really want to do is get your sound as directly as possible onto that hard drive. You want to go through as few pieces of gear as possible. In my case I use the Universal Audio 1176 and LA2A. I have two Imperial Labs EL8s and a Fatso Junior. I've got some old API EQs and mic pres that were reconditioned by Brent Avril. And the things I use the most are my two Millenium Media STT-1s�the Origin Recording Systems. They're used on everything. Those things are so functional, they're beautiful.
And of course the corner stone of the whole thing is the Palmer Speaker Simulator. And I have a Korg tuner in the top of the rack. I started using that because on this last album I had five-string basses, seven-string guitars, 12-string guitars, and some detuning things. This Korg has presets for all of that stuff, which makes it really quick and easy to stay in tune.
MF: You have a Mackie mixer here.
JS: This is an old piece that wound up here when I started using Logic Audio through my power book. And I just never changed it because I thought it sounded so transparent. We took this on tour in '98. Every morning we were at some radio or TV show. We had a tiny drum kit with mics set up on the drums, we had a guitar and a bass preamp in a rack along with this Mackie mixer. Stu and Jeff and I would just pull into a radio station. Within 10 minutes we'd hand the engineer a pair of stereo cables and say, "We're ready to rock!" And we'd be able to perform right there. This is the same Mackie board that was with us that entire year. It never broke and when you have the EQ centered you cannot hear any artifacts. It's not doing a thing. And you can use that Mackie preamp with a guitar if you're using other preamps as well and you'll get the subtle difference that would have been inherent if you'd been using mics.
MF: I see you've got some Furman power protection here.
JS: Those are old, as well. I did wind up with a bunch of stuff that was left behind on tour because it was bent or something. The actual racks are from gear that was going to be thrown out. But this Ampeg SVP Pro I just purchased. Through your Web site, I might add [laughs].
MF: And you have a TC unit here, the VoicePrism Plus.
JS: Yes! That's been fun to fool around with. Lord knows I can use it [laughs]. I've been using it for really outrageous-sounding explorations.
MF: It's been a wonderful experience talking with you. Thank you for sharing so much of your time with us and speaking so candidly.
JS: It's been my pleasure.
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