Tips – 10/11 – Musical Gear

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Top Guitarists

In the 1960’s, the guitar was considered a new instrument that produced, as opposed to music, “noise.”  Today, it is one of the most popular instruments around, even spawning video games like “Guitar Hero” that play on the fun of strumming away on the strings.

But it’s worth noting that throughout musical history, some people have so excelled at this particular musical instrument that they deserve their own list.

Without further ado, here are the top seven most awesome guitar heroes.

 1.  Jimi Hendrix.

Jimi Hendrix is almost universally regarded as the ultimate master of the guitar, someone who introduced new sounds to an entire generation that didn’t realize the potential of the still-young instrument.  His version of the national anthem is still considered one of the top individual instrumental performances of all time.

2.  B.B. King.

Even if many people today assume that one of the B’s stands for “Burger,” B.B. King is a legend of the guitar, and could perhaps be described as the Jimi Hendrix of the Blues.  His familiar twangs and turns are as distinctive as his own style.

3.  Jimmy Page.

From Led Zeppelin, Jimmy Page’s name is synonymous with the guitar, as he helped fashion many a rock song and sculpt the modern image of the guitar player.

4.  Eric Clapton.

People forget that Eric Clapton was an active participant of the 1960’s revolution in music – not only did he join the popular band “Cream,” he participated in one of the era’s most popular works, the Beatles’ “White Album,” providing a lick of the guitar on the now-famous “While My Guitar Gently Weeps.”  Need I say more?

5.  Carlos Santana.

Many people remember Santana from his profound riffing on “Smooth,” but forget that Santana is an accomplished guitarist of his own right, building a distinctive sound that can’t be mistaken for anyone else.

6.  Keith Richards.

Even if Richard’s only contribution to guitar rock was the riff from “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction,” Richards would be a Hall-of-Fame guitarist.  But because of his contributions to the legendary Rolling Stones, he’ll be remembered for much more than that.

7.  George Harrison.

Don’t forget who introduced the world to the now-familiar eastern style of the Sitar, a style duplicated by bands like the Rolling Stones.  Harrison also penned some of the world’s most famous guitar riffs, including on “Here Comes the Sun.”


Epiphone PR5-E


With one of the most recognizable and distinctive guitar shapes around, Epiphone’s PR5-e Acoustic/Electric Guitar is still considered one of the most popular, versatile guitars available on the market.

Being able to play an acoustic that plugs in and adapts so well to the electric style is a rarity.

But what exactly makes this classic yet unique guitar such a memorable instrument?  Let’s take a look at some of the features to find out.

The “Florentine” or Sharp Cutaway

While many acoustic guitars have a double-cutaway, which makes the guitar look like a collection of wooden bubbles, the sharp bottom cutaway of the Epiphone guitar changes how the entire instrument is used.

First, it changes the sound:  less space in the guitar means a different resonance.  Second, it gives the player easier access to the higher notes on the fret, allowing for more involved electric solos.

What’s more, the shape still retains the classic acoustic guitar look, meaning that nothing is taken away.

The result is an acoustic/electric hybrid that actually plays like an acoustic/electric hybrid, not an acoustic guitar that simply plugs in.


Advanced Electric Controls

Epiphone advertises a “state of the art” pre-amp that allows you a great amount of control when switching to electric mode:  master volume, bass, terble, EQ shape, and a Phase switch give you a wide range of options when you’re performing live.

While playing on what looks like an acoustic guitar, you actually get the feel of an electric guitar thanks to the advanced electronic features and similar cutaway shape.


Owning the Acoustic/Electric Guitar

For many guitar players, there’s nothing quite like owning a guitar that manufactures a great acoustic sound but still retains the ability to plug in and rock out.  This is especially great for newcomers to the guitar who want the ability to play both styles; not only do  you get the classic sound of an acoustic, you get the power of an electric.

Is it the guitar for you?  That will be up to the consumer to determine, but if you’re serious about owning a guitar, the Epiphone PR5-E represents a serious option.


Wah Pedal

For the uninitiated of those potential guitar heroes out there, a “wah-wah pedal” is a pedal that lets you manipulate the tone of your guitar, allowing it to mimic the human voice.

In other words, the wah-wah pedal essentially creates that distinct wah-wah sound that cools down the tone of the guitar into what is often a smooth, relaxing voice.

For you beginners, there are a lot of things you might not know about this pedal, so in case you want to learn more, here are five interesting tidbits.

Wah-wahs are usually meant for lead guitars.

If you’re the bass player, you’re probably not going to make a lot of use out of a guitar wah-wah pedal, as much as you might like to try it.  Of course, any band is free to try out its own sounds, but wah-wah pedals are usually reserved for the lead guitar, since most bands want to feature the distinctive wah-wah sound.  You’ll also notice that the human-friendly sound of the wah-wah works well with an audience’s ears.

The wah-wah sound is achieved by filtering the sound.

Passing a sound through a high or low filter will alter it tremendously; a wah-wah effect will cycle through both of these filters smoothly, allowing for a round, smooth tone.  It sounds like a “wah” because this change between filters mimics how the mouth works when pronouncing the word “wah.”

Although a bass player might not always use a wah-wah, it has been done before.

Jazz legend Miles Davis, for example, allowed his bassist Michael Henderson to use the wah-wah pedal on an album in the early 1970’s.

Originally, the wah-wah wasn’t intended for electric guitars.

Even though the electric guitar and the wah-wah pedal seem like a natural match, this wasn’t how the process started.  It was only later that the wah-wah pedal was attached to an electric guitar.

One of the most famous brands is known as “Cry Baby.”

Cry Baby is an appropriate name for what is known as a wah-wah pedal, and today is one of the most recognized wah-wah brands around.

Now that you know a little more about the wah-wah pedal, you’ll probably better understand its usage.  The next time you hear it played, try to remember just a few of these facts!

Learning The Piano

Piano is the short term for pianoforte, a musical instrument invented by an Italian named Bartolomeo Cristofori, sometime in the 1700s.

To this date, it is considered as one of the well-designed musical instruments, and it is widely used in different genres, from chamber music to pop RnB songs.

What’s easy and what’s not?

Learning to play the piano is easy. The easy part is learning the notes. A song in the movie “Sound of Music says”: When you read you begin with A-B-C, when you sing you begin with do-re-mi. The same thing goes when learning to play the piano, it begins with those 3 notes, then go forth to next notes: fa, sol, la, and  ti. The next octave will bring you back to the do-re-mi’s, only with higher pitch.

One of the difficult factors for every beginner is making the hands relaxed and flexible (making it as soft as the wind, so they say). It’s okay if your hands are stiff at the beginning, you’ll pass that stage as time goes by. Reading and playing the notes accurately can be another challenge, which is why it is essential to study the basic (Kinder 1) lessons first and foremost.

As the lessons move forward, another intricacy for beginners is playing with both hands at the same time. All of these challenges can be conquered by any piano student who practices the piano pieces religiously.


To hire or not to hire.

For starters, there’s the option of hiring a piano teacher, whom you can pay by the hour or per session. You can also enroll yourself in a reputable piano school in your area. The average piano lesson can last from 20 minutes to 1 hour per day. Equip yourself with piano books that are appropriate for your level.

John Thompson piano books are highly suggested. His books have been trusted by many generations of piano students because these are well-paced and well-designed for each level.

There is also a lot of online piano lessons available, some are interactive, and some are through ebooks. Learning on your own may be okay at the beginning. The ebooks can jumpstart your learning and will include information like keyboard lay-out, notes on treble staff and bass staff, time signatures, practice pieces, and terminologies.

However, as you move forward to higher levels, being on your own may not always suffice. Professional guidance every now and then will prove to be advantageous, especially when you’re trying to learn a new song or piano piece.

Work on it.

Have realistic goals.

Don’t aim to be good at playing a piano piece that’s not intended for your grade level at the moment. Baby steps are okay in order to avoid frustration.

Little achievements will make you want to go on with the lessons. Always remember, you won’t become a Mozart or Beethoven overnight. Some online piano lessons may catch your attention by saying “learn piano in 12 lessons”, but that’s not going to make you a pro.

It’s important to start your lessons right, have professional guidance once in a while, put your heart into it, and practice regularly to speed up your progress.

Learning The Guitar

The guitar is one of the most fascinating musical instruments ever created by man.

Every genre of music, be it classic or modern, involves guitar. No wonder, people the world over are hooked to it, and you’re probably one of them. But being captivated by the guitar is different from knowing how to play it. And so taking guitar lessons is one of the best decisions you’ll make.

But are you wondering…is it hard to learn to play the guitar? Or is it just a “piece of cake”? What does it take to learn this charming instrument? Here are some things that you might want to know…


It’s all about attitude.

Well, the process of learning guitar may be easy or difficult, depending on the individual.  It does not take super high IQ to learn to play it, but it does take enthusiasm, patience, hard work, and of course, time.


Now that you’ve decided to have guitar lessons, it is advisable for you to have your own guitar, instead of borrowing from someone. In that way, you can practice anytime when your schedule allows. When choosing a guitar, consider its weight and size, as these are factors that will determine your comfort. Yes, it is imperative that you feel relaxed and comfortable when you’re learning to play the guitar.


As a novice, you might be unsure as to what is the better way to learn how to play the guitar. There are options, and it’s up to you to choose what will suit you best. If you prefer supervised coaching, you can hire a guitar teacher and you must be ready for the cost. The fee that you will shell out is greatly determined by your location and the professional standing of your mentor. It’s best to get referrals or reviews from people who have hired guitar tutors, so you can get real value for your money.


Another way to learn is through the internet.

Thanks to this technology, you can learn wherever your itch to learn hits you. The internet offers a myriad of guitar lessons, free guides and videos. You can have your lessons at your own home, or when you’re left alone at hotel during a weekend getaway, or at a local hangout with friends, literally everywhere these days. Instructional DVD’s and different brands of guitar lessons software can also be bought online.


If you deem that you are really on a tight budget, and the free lessons on videos are just too overwhelming, you can always rely on guitar books. There are guitar books designed for the total beginner, each instruction clearly stated, and you can learn at your own pace. Everything that you have to know about the guitar, from guitar parts to chords, is incorporated.

Guitar pros are not borne, they’re made.

You can become one if you start learning now. Know your instrument and nurture the passion…Rock on!

Synthesizer Buying Guide

Buying a synthesizer is often a far more complicated process than the one you’ll use to purchase any other instrument.

This is because, by nature, a synthesizer can be responsible for playing many different/all the roles within a given piece of music and so all aspects of its sound and build must be considered. Also, there are a multitude of factors that can influence your choice besides sound- a synthesizer is an electrical instrument and so should also be viewed from a technical perspective by someone familiar with its construction.

Here we have a short guide dedicated to ensuring that you buy the right equipment to suit your needs.

Your first consideration should be your own needs. Are you a performer? Do you simply want a synthesizer for your own entertainment? Or are you working on a recording studio (in which synthesizers are a crucial feature)?

If you’re purchasing the instrument only for fun, then you shouldn’t have too much of a problem. There are many different outlets that sell beginner or intermediate models with a fairly good range of sounds and features that are unlikely to break the bank. However, if your needs more closely resemble either of the other two situations, you may have a harder job.


Think about the following:

Multi-timbrality: This is the synthesizer’s ability (or lack thereof) to produce imitations of multiple instruments at the same time. If your synth can’t do this, it is described as “mono-timbral” and will require multi-tracking in a recording environment to simulate multi-timbrality.

Sequencer: A sequencer gives the keyboard the same functionality as a multi-track recorder; meaning that it records a series of events for playback later. Note that the keyboard will only record the sequence of key presses and play them back- any external noise will not be recorded.

Number of keys: Most will be provided with a compliment of 61 keys, which equates to five octaves. However for players more familiar with a piano, there are synths available with the full 88 keys.


Further and more obvious considerations to be made are:

Sound: Obviously, don’t make a purchase if you feel the keyboard you’re viewing sounds tinny or doesn’t mimic other instruments very well.

Feel: If you (or a friend/relative) know how a good synth should feel, don’t buy something that doesn’t fit that standard. You can often gauge a keyboard’s quality by playing a familiar tune.

Price: You are the only one who knows what you can afford to spend, and I’d advise against telling salesmen exactly what this amount is. Don’t pay more than you need to because a keyboard has a label attached- likewise, don’t buy something just because it appears to be a bargain. More often than not, it will prove to be false economy.

How to Record The Electric Guitar


In many bands, the electric guitar is an integral instrument.

It can be used to create rhythm, melody, riff and even the odd solo- which, short, means that the instrument is incredibly diverse.

Many people want to know the best techniques for recording music using the electric guitar.

Here are a few:

First and foremost, remember that the electric guitar has no natural sound; therefore there is no “right” way to play it. Feel free to make the kind of music that you like! Attempting to copy other, more popular styles is rarely a good idea, as it’s likely to sound unnatural when combined with your playing style.


Secondly, effects and distortions are best left until the mixing and editing stages of recording. Playing with effects already present can not only be very difficult, but will also make editing a nightmare. Effects such as flanger, chorus and wah-wah might be okay, but reverbs and delays can both spill over into subsequent notes and ruin overall quality.

If you find it difficult to play without the accompanying effects, you might consider adding them to your monitor mix so that you will be able to hear them, but still record directly from the DI signal so that only the sounds from the guitar will be recorded.

Finally, you should ensure you use the correct pickup and compressor, and fix any off-notes using Auto-tune. Then, if the track stands up in comparison to another song, you have yourself a recording!

Record Electric Guitar Onto Your Computer:

With  Line 6’s POD Series



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