6 Strings Worth of Classical Ecstacy!

3 03 2009

Okay, we’ve been talking…

Well, not exactly… I’ve been talking, and you’ve been listening. We’ve been talking about guitars and education, and the perils of just trying to “wing it” without learning the fundamentals.

Lot’s of people just pick up the guitar, watch a few videos and buy a few songbooks… And they cheat themselves out of a “learning base” that might have allowed them to explore “new frontiers” way earlier! Hey, you’re a smart guy, and you can learn everything you ever wanted to know, just by watching MTV and YouTube, right?

Well, you just keep thinking that! It’s guys like you, that I buy “hardly used guitars” from, for almost nothing… 😉

remnants

Incidentally, I don’t resell them. I donate them to one of a few guitar schools I sponsor, both here in the US, and overseas… So don’t ask.

When you’re buying your first guitar, you really have no idea how it’s supposed to feel, or sound (or even smell), for that matter. You’re just another “rube in the woods” trying to  look cool, as you sit there on that stool, and try to look like you know what you’re doing. I call this “the poser period.”

If you’re smart, you find a mentor and take him/her along with you, to guide your steps as you start to grow. After all, a sponge won’t swell up in the desert... 😉

I don’t care how you do it… Bribe them, promise them dinner, or even your first child… whatever… just make sure that they’re there to keep you from being ripped off!

Have them test drive that guitar for you. While they’re doing it, pay attention! If they can make it cry, so can you, eventually.

Then, once you get it home… pick up the Yellow Pages, and look for a teacher.

Call the local guitar shops, and ask them who teaches. And then, ask those teachers to give you a demo, on YOUR guitar. If they play your guitar, they’ll know what tools you have to work with! Because once that teacher knows where you’re starting from, they’ll be able to make sure that you learn the fundamentals, and THAT will insure your success as a guitarist!

Me, I opt for the guy that beats it into your head that learning “classical guitar” will make you a “rock star…”

Why? Well, here’s a tip for all you “thrasher wanna-be”  kiddies out there!

He’s the guy your parents will gladly pony up the cash for! After all, when they’re playing bridge next weekend, bragging about “their prodigy of a kid who’s learning to play classical guitar…” you’ll be worshiping a “bridge” of your own. And it will happen with your parents blessing (and financial support), I might add!

bach_with_guitar

And I thought it might help you, to hear what a “Classical education” can do for your fretwork…

If you practice, practice, practice… And IF you play it right, it’ll sound like this…

See? That wasn’t so bad!

Now then… “Old Guys” aren’t so dumb, are they? Hmmm?

100lft_guitar_ava1Okay… “Old Guys” ARE dumb enough not to be able to figure out how to embed an MP3 in the WordPress blog post. So, sorry for the “off-link!” I’ll figure it out sooner or later. I’m a guitarist, not a computer programmer! ‘Till then, it’ll be worth your while to follow those links… and then… come right back! 😉





Waiting for delivery… your first new baby… and it’s ELECTRIC!

28 02 2009

Everything you ever wanted to know about buying your first Electric guitar…

57lespaulcustomOkay, last time, we talked about buying that first acoustic guitar.

Now, I know I gave you hell about considering an acoustic first, but some of you are just hard headed and you just wanna rock… 😉

We’ve talked about stuff… Hey we’ve even insinuated that many people are reluctant to invest too much money on a “first” instrument, because frankly, some people don’t have faith in themselves. It’s because of this that there is a very large market for inexpensive (read “cheap!”) guitars. It’s the place those damned “packages” come from! Companies are in business to make money, and one of the fastest sources of income, is “disposable products.”

So, music manufacturers and suppliers are eager to fill the market with cheap guitars, usually built out on the edge of the radar, in places like Korea and China. Labor and materials are cheap there, and it’s easy for the manufacturers to meet demand.

And it’s this condition that becomes the minefield for the inexperienced player. You get what you pay for in the guitar realm, folks. If you only fork over pennies, that’s exactly what you’re gonna get. That cheap guitar you just bought may look decent, but  cheap guitars aren’t very playable, they don’t adjust well, and they’ll just slow you down.  Nothing frustrates a new music student more than not being able to achieve success, because of shoddy, low quality instruments. Wanna quit before you even get started? Buy a “package deal,” and get a cheap guitar, and fulfill your dreams of failure!

I know this sounds harsh, but remember two things;

(1) I’m not trying to sell you guitars. I ain’t in the guitar selling business.

(2) I’m trying to keep you from making the mistake that 75% of all new guitarists make. And it’s a mistake that very few of them recover from.

A new guitarist can’t tell that the tone isn’t “quite right.” And they can’t tell you why they’re frustrated, because they lack the experience to know what to expect.  That’s why it’s really important to take someone with you that knows the difference between a good guitar and a BAD one.

And it’s why you need to pony up some real cash to buy that first “axe.”

A good to high quality guitar will carry you through as you learn to play.

And kids, if you need to, PRINT THIS OUT and give it to your parents, as “proof” when you’re begging for that Les Paul…

If your parents are “helping” you learn to play the guitar, they need to understand that a cheap guitar is just like a Yugo. It’s trash before you even get it home and “it’ll be broken, before it’s broken in…”

Before buying a guitar it is important that you find out what has been done to ensure that the instrument is playable. How can you know that you are not getting a bad guitar?

A good guitar store will go out of it’s way to insure that you get what you need to succeed in developing your skills and enjoying  a lifetime of music making on your electric guitar. It’s more than just getting your cash, folks. The music business is very competitive. Shops close every single day! So, it’s about getting you as a guitar customer for life. If they can guide you along, they can stay in your pockets and that’s gonna affect their bottom line. So, it’s in their best interest to help you get that great guitar you crave.

One of the things that they will do is inspect your guitar, to make sure that it’s in good shape, and playable.

Your guitar will be set up and adjusted, to make sure that it performs the way it was designed to. Even in the guitar “mid-range,” this is the “norm,” for guitar businesses.  And, “mid-range” is “at least” where you’re gonna start, if I have anything to say about it.

Here’s a checklist of things you need to do, in order to insure that you’re getting a good deal;

1. Unpack and visually inspect guitar for shipping damage

unpacking_baby

2. Inspect guitar for unacceptable finish blemishes

inspection

3. Tune guitar to standard pitch.

4. Check tuning machines for proper operation

tuning-machines

5. Check to be sure strings are properly wound around tuning post to maximize tone and insure less wear on tuning machines.

6. Check ring nut on each tuning machine to make sure they are secure.

7. Check neck bolts to be sure they are secure.

8. Do a preliminary inspection of action and overall playability.

action

9. Check to see if bridge/tremolo system is properly adjusted and is not pulled forward from string tension

You’re gonna come across a few different types of Bridges/tremolos. Here’s the three main types;

1. The Gibson type is the easiest of the three to use as it is just a curved piece of metal with the saddles on it, which can only be adjusted up and down by two screws, one on each side.

2. The Fender type is a bit more complicated to use. It is like the Gibson as it can only be moved up and down by adjusting two screws (one on each side), but the saddles are individual and can be moved one at a time to get a better sound and for easier tuning.

3. The Floyd rose type is different to both the other types as it is not attached to the body, it rests on two grooved screws, these screws help to make the bridge move up and down. A Floyd rose can be adjusted like the Fender and the saddles are “individual.” Floyd roses also have fine tuning which helps create a better sound, and much more precise tuning.

bridge-tremolo

Gratuitous “righty” photo!

10. Play the guitar acoustically to check for unwanted vibrations or noises.

guitar-playability

11. Plug in guitar and check input jack

input-jack1

12. Check pick-up selection switch in all positions

pickup_selector_switch1

13. Check volume and tone controls

controls1

14. Inspect the string height or action at the nut. Get that ruler back out!

15. Inspect the string height or action at the bridge and saddles.

16. Inspect the truss rod adjustment:

There are a few different types of truss rods you may come across;

1. The Fender type
As you tighten the truss rod the neck will bend and give you a smaller action, and you slacken the truss rod your neck will loosen, giving you a bigger action.

2. The Cheap aluminium type
This is just a cheap version of the Fender type cased in a rectangle metal case. It’s not as good as a Fender, no matter what the salesman says. It’s a “knock-off!” Because of that, it’s junk! Hello? It’s CHEAP! Avoid this like the plague!

3. The Gibson type
Instead of bending the wood like the Fender type, the Gibson type of truss rod squeezes the wood making it bend in or out.

4. The Ibanez type
This works in the same way as the Gibson, it is just made in a different way. It is two rods welded at one end and the end of one end is welded to a collar, which is screwed onto the bottom rod.

Have someone who knows what they are doing perform the following work as necessary:

trussrodWARNING! If you screw this up, you’ll ruin your guitar! If you over-adjust this, you might as well just burn that guitar on stage!

(At least it will entertain the audience!)

17. Adjust truss rod for overall playability or action.

Okay, now that we have “that” out of the way… Get that guitar tech to do the following;

18. Adjust the bridge and/or bridge saddles of each string for ease of playing.

bridge_adjustment1

19. Check intonation of each string and adjust as necessary.

20. Cut string nut slots deeper to adjust the height of each string appropriately above the first fret. This is for ease of playing in first position.

21. File nut slot back angle to keep the string from buzzing inside the nut and help insure proper intonation and tone.

22. Hone frets if they are uneven and affect playability.

hone-frets-even

23. Apply fingerboard oil to fingerboard if the wood appears or feels dry.

24. Re-tune the guitar to pitch and check overall playability.

25. Polish your axe as necessary. Hey! I know what you’re thinking… and that’s NOT what they’re calling it nowadays! I was talking about the guitar! A shiny guitar is a happy guitar!

If you’re not buying your guitar from a guitar business, then you still need these steps performed, or you’re going to get ripped off!

A guitar tech may take a quick look at that prospective purchase for free, but… once you’ve paid for it, a good guitar tech is gonna charge you between $40 – $70 bucks to do this walk-thru of your guitar. Stop whining! It’s the best money you can spend on your guitar! Trust me!

And I cannot suggest strongly enough that you enlist one, to insure that you have a good, adjusted, playable guitar.

Here’s the last rule for buying a new guitar;

Cherish it, covet it, and gloat… You’re not a MUSICIAN… You’re becoming a GUITARIST!!

Now git! Go on… Git!

100lft_guitar_ava1





A Guitarist’s First Steps

25 02 2009

People ask me stuff…

You know, stuff like;

“Dude… Did all those amps make your hair fall out early, or was it the drugs?”

Nope, it was the women…

Or;

“Can you recommend a guitar for my kid? He’s a real good player! He plays almost as good as you!”

To which I usually respond;

“I’d recommend you go home and break his fingers. The music biz is full of  “ponytails” that want to pick his pocket!”

Actually, a lot of the mail I get asks the same question;

“Can you recommend a good starter guitar?”

And here’s where years of playing (both studio and stage) and all that expertise jump right off my foot, and end up right in my mouth!

We’re gonna take this first trip together, aimed at a place called “generality.” Later on, as the road trip progresses, we’ll delve deeper into what makes a guitar work, and what you should learn to look for.

Picking a first guitar is like kissing your first girl. You tremble when you touch her, your mouth starts to salivate, and then, you drool like a kid fresh out of the dentists office! 🙂

There are as many “first guitars,” as there are cars, or bikes, or even blonds. The way I see it, it’s all about “feel.”

You have to reach out and pick her up, and then let your fingers walk all over her, just to test the fit. You’ve got to hold her close, just to see it she squirms, and then, you need to strum her a few times, just to hear her coo!

I’ve heard a lot of guys tell students that a “first guitar” doesn’t need to be expensive. I’ve heard guitar salesmen tell a new guitarist wanna-be that the “first guitar” will set the pace for every guitar that follows…

And, I think that the truth lies somewhere inbetween…

That first guitar is going to be the one that either lead you to the door that opens up on your life as a guitarist, or it’s gonna break your heart.

A lot of guys will disagree with me, but I’m “old school” when it comes to learning your licks…

I tell new guitarists that it’s essential to consider the acoustic, before you pick up an electric. That acoustic will teach you fundamentals about fingering and technique, and you’ll be able to practice, practice, practice, anywhere you happen to be, no matter where it is.

Obviously, there’s a difference between playing an electric and an acoustic. The technical approaches are indeed different. The approach to chords, notes, and scales is different. But the theory and skills you learn with that acoustic will pay off, in spades.

It used to be that “real guitarists” played electric, and the “other guys” played acoustics. Now, it’s pretty common to see that Guitar God you idolize reach over and grab an acoustic dreadnaught from a tech…  And the sound that comes off those strings is amazing! Don’t believe me?

“Real Men” don’t play Acoustic Guitar, right? Bull!

Steve Morse Classical Lesson – Northern Lights

A little bit of investigation will reveal that a LOT of those Metal Gods you worship, have Acoustic “Classical training…” And, even saddled by those “uncool acoustic boxes…” They totally rock!

Some of us (even though we’re OLD) actually know our way around that hunk of maple that you call a guitar neck!

Hey, I know that it’s cool to rush out and buy a hot electric guitar, an amp, and a pedal or two, but most new guitarists aren’t flush with cash. That’s why guitar shops are jammed to the rafters with “packages.” Avoid these like a Madonna album!!! The salesman will talk you into a compromise, and you’ll end up with a mediocre guitar, a crappy amp, and some electronics that you’ll replace, as soon as you figure out what you’re doing!

(Hey, that gives me an idea! I’m pretty good with hand tools… Maybe I’ll teach you how to build a lamp out of that crap-assed Chinese guitar you just bought! No sense in letting it go into a landfill. That wouldn’t be “green.”)

If you start with an acoustic, you can buy a really nice guitar (for much less than that “electric rig”), a quality guitar that you can grow with… one that won’t end up disappointing you later.

Oh just stop it, you bunch of “whining guitar-shredder wanna-be’s!”  PSYCH!

I know that some of you would rather cut your own hands off with a dull steak knife, than touch an acoustic. So…

This post, I’m gonna talk about Acoustics. Next post… I’ll talk about your damned Electric Guitars…

Why? ‘Cuz that’s how I roll… That’s why!

Here’s a few “rules” for you to consider;

Buy your guitar from somebody that you trust, that knows guitars. Your guitar should be inspected and adjusted, not “infected and neglected.” A cheap guitar in a pawn shop is usually trouble unless you know what you’re looking at!

Brand names don’t mean anything. Just because it says (insert your favorite brand here) on the headstock doesn’t mean it’s a sweetheart! It could still be assembled in a factory by somebody who doesn’t care about anything but a paycheck.

Choose a guitar that fits your body. Trying to play the wrong size guitar makes everything that much harder. And frustration equals failure.

There is no such thing as a “good” cheap guitar. You get what you pay for!

Choose a guitar finish that really makes you smile! A happy guitar is a well-played guitar! If you really like looking at it, you’ll like playing it even more!

And, buy an electronic tuner. It looks cool to tune by ear, but you aren’t ready for that, yet. That tuner will train your ear.

Would you like “paper or plastic?”

The next mountain to conquer is this;

Do you want nylon or steel strings?

Acoustics come a bunch of ways, but the most fundamental differences are “Nylon,”or “Steel” strings.

Nylon String Guitars Are Typically Used for Classical and Folk Music, but the mellow tone and responsiveness of the nylon strings can be enjoyed for folk or any other style of music.

Steel String Guitars are for Rock, Country and Most Other Styles. Steel string guitars are used for rock, country and many other styles of music, but it is a matter of personal choice. You can hear the difference, because steel string guitars produce a crisp, bright tone as compared to nylon string guitars.

Your best bet is to listen to different recording artists that perform on nylon and steel string guitars. This will help you find the sound that is the most appealing to you.

You’re going to get sore fingers, no matter which path you decide to follow.

Initially, playing on either nylon or steel strings will make the fingertips a little tender and sore, but with a little time and practice, the pain will go away.

Nylon strings are made of a softer, less dense material and are under less tension than steel strings. As a result, they are slightly easier to push down, provided the instrument is properly adjusted.

As a result, those nylon strings need to be tuned more frequently. But, that’s a good thing, too. Over time, it allows you to hear the “differences” and it teaches you to tune. It’s all good!

Steel string guitars are under a higher amount of tension and therefore the strings  are somewhat harder to push down than nylon strings, but the difference is not great as long as the guitars are correctly adjusted for easy playability.

But don’t let anyone tell you that it doesn’t matter which strings go where! You can’t exchange steel for nylon! The guitars are actually built for specific strings, and switching up will make your guitar sound like crap. Steel string guitars are designed and manufactured for steel strings and using them will provide you with the most playability, intonation and sound possible. And, using steel strings on a nylon guitar will damage the guitar. That Nylon Guitar isn’t built or braced for steel strings and the tension they require!!

And you can still buy that amp, if you have cash burning a hole in your pockets!

Acoustics come in both “Acoustic,” and “Electric Acoustic” models. You can buy an acoustic that plugs into an amp, if you’re looking for a “big” sound. Again, it depends on what you have to spend.

I usually steer new guitarists at guitars by figuring out what they have jingling in their pockets. And, surprisingly, it’s usually about $500.00

So, just for the sake of starting an argument, here’s a good looking, great sounding, versatile, “high quality entry level guitar” (left-handed of course) that can be bought  brand new for less than 5 Bills, including bag…

Wechter Pathmaker 3135 Left-Handed Guitar

3135

I have one. And, I play it all the time, even though I’ve got a pair of Martins (a D-28 and a D-18 1934) sitting right here. Okay, so I take the Wechter camping, and it goes along when I go out in the RV to find fish or look at girls…

In fact, I own several Wechter guitars;

Wechter USA Florentine Cutaway Model 9303c 6 String Guitar – Nylon
Wechter Scheerhorn Model 6530-F  Dobro, and;

My own pair of Wechter Pathmaker 3135s

I found several of these through a pal who watched the “trades.” It’s been discontinued, but they’re still out there, for cheap. I bought (5) of them, and I spent $1500.00  (I sent 3 of them to a music school I sponsor in Israel.)

I just jumped out on the ‘net, and I found 12 of them for sale… all in the $300-$500 range (new).

This guitar has a patented double cutaway headblock design that gives you 19 frets clear of the body and the most stable neck to body joint found on any acoustic guitar today. It feels great in your hands, too! It feels like a solid body neck on an acoustic body. Hand scalloped bracing and a quality thin finish allows the soundboard to respond to the lightest touch for clear and balanced acoustic tone.

Here’s some of the “good stuff;”

  • Spruce top
  • Lacewood back and sides
  • Mahogany neck
  • Natural Finish
  • Tortoise shell binding and abalone trim
  • Rosewood bridge and fingerboard
  • Reinforced adjustable truss-rod assembly for stable neck action
  • Die-cast chrome tuners
  • Bound top, back, neck and fingerboard
  • Dot position markers on both top and side of fingerboard at 3, 5, 7, 9, 12 (2), 15,17, 19, 21
  • Pro quality amplification – the versatile 3-pickup system
  • Final setup with Plek Pro and electronics installation
  • Super heavy-duty padded gig bag included
  • Life-time warranty

Here’s one reason why I like it;

Wechter Pathmaker 3000 Series wins Guitar Player Editors’ Pick Award

“Offering outstanding playability and super-flexible electronics, the Wechter Pathmaker is a smart choice for hardworking pickers and songsmiths who need an all-in-one writing, recording, and gigging tool. It sounds particularly wicked plugged in, and it’s currently the only acoustic-electric in its price range with three points of amplification. Innovative and affordable, the Pathmaker nabs an Editors’ Pick Award.”

September 22, 2003 – Guitar Player magazine honored Wechter Pathmaker™ 3000

Series with its distinguished Editors’ Pick Award in the November 2003 issue. These awards recognize those products that the Guitar Player editors deem “innovative, technologically advanced, and exquisitely rendered.”

In order to qualify for this prestigious award, a product must be evaluated in a Guitar Player Bench Test and receive at least one top score in the review’s overall rating categories. Once the product qualifies, Guitar Player editors meet to discuss its merits and vote on whether it gets an award. Approval must be unanimous. The Wechter Pathmaker™ has met all of Guitar Player’s strict standards and earned top honors from the magazine’s editorial board.

Excerpts from the review

Guitar Player Senior Editor Andy Ellis writes: “Most budget acoustics are knockoffs of instruments pioneered decades ago by Martin and Gibson. It’s cheaper to emulate than innovate, which explains why the world is long on wannabe D-28s and J-45s, and short on low-priced original designs. It’s this reality that makes the Wechter Pathmaker ($399 street, deluxe gig bag included [right-handed]) such a standout. Created by noted luthier Abe Wechter, built in China to his specifications, and set up in his Michigan workshop, the acoustic-electric Pathmaker combines decent materials and construction with radical engineering, cool electronics, and remarkable playability.

The result is a bold, versatile 6-string that performs far above its price class.”

Construction Details

“The Pathmaker’s most innovative feature is its patented neck joint, a clever design that yields two huge dividends—unimpeded access to the 19th fret, and an uncommonly stable union between the neck and body. At the heart of this junction is a curved, wooden block. Nearly 3/4″ thick and laminated for strength, this crosspiece runs from the tip of one cutaway to the other, defining the cutaway contours and 81/2″ span, and establishing the body’s 4″ upper-bout depth. The neck is fitted and glued to the center of this block using three wooden dowels.

Together, the neck and block form an inverted T—a rigid frame that prevents lateral neck twisting, and allows the instrument to be lightly braced. In terms of fretboard access, the Pathmaker lies somewhere between a Gibson Barney Kessel archtop and an SG—unreal for a flat-top.”

Wechter has taken two steps to maximize the Pathmaker’s resonance. First, using violinmaker’s planes, workers scallop the braces to let the top and back vibrate   more freely. Second, the finish is applied sparingly—just enough to seal the wood, but not imprison it. On our test Pathmaker, the wood grain showed through the high-gloss finish, the way it does on many boutique flat-tops. These two procedures are worth the effort.”

“Sporting sealed, diecast tuners, the curvy headstock lets the strings fan out gently after they cross the bone nut. Coupled with a moderate downward headstock angle, this spread keeps the strings firmly in their slots without causing undue binding.

The tuners turn smoothly, and the nut slots are carefully cut so the open-string height tracks the fretboard radius—a detail often overlooked on mass-produced instruments.”

“The neck has a moderate, rounded profile that stays at a uniform depth until you reach the 14th fret, where the heel begins its downward journey. Boasting a generous 251/2″ scale length, a gentle 12″ radius, and well-crowned medium fretwire, the rosewood fretboard offers an inviting playing surface. Some fret ends are awkwardly cut, but they’ve all been filed smooth, and there are no sharp edges.”

Totally Wired

The Pathmaker’s sexiest feature is its electronic package, which comprises a preamp/mixer, a condenser mini-mic on a flexible stem, a single-coil magnetic soundhole pickup with adjustable polepieces, and an undersaddle piezo transducer.

The sidemount preamp allows you to manipulate the level and tone of all three signal sources using a minimum number of controls.”

The Pathmaker has two outputs—a low-impedance XLR jack and a high-impedance 1/4″ jack—mounted on a plate near the endpin. These jacks carry identical mono signals, so you can’t split the pickup and mic outputs. But what you can do is feed your sound simultaneously to a P.A. and stage amp, and then wrangle the results independently. In the studio, the dual outs suggest creative options like recording a clean signal from the XLR jack, while connecting the 1/4″ jack to an effects unit and then bussing the processed tones to a second track. If you gig a lot, you’ll really appreciate how the system runs happily on 48-volt phantom power supplied from a mixer via the XLR cable—slick! A dedicated LED indicates when the phantom juice is flowing.”

“Plugged in, the Pathmaker has a huge repertoire of blended mic and pickup sounds. Whether you’re after crunchy chord riffs or warm lead lines, you’re bound to find what you need—plus variations thereof. The guitar’s mag and saddle pickups sound clean and robust, but it’s the hot mic that provides the magic. Some claim that a mic placed inside an acoustic picks up more sonic garbage than useful timbres. However, I found that by pulling the capsule out of the soundhole—so it hovers between the soundboard and the bass strings, angled toward the treble strings—the Pathmaker delivered a very credible miked tone. This proved especially useful in a studio setting, where I’d often let the mic do most of the work. Onstage,  the mic is forced to play a more subservient role to avoid feedback. Fortunately, it doesn’t take much mic signal to animate the direct pickup tones.”

But don’t just take MY word for it… Here’s what other people said about it:

Overall     quality: 9
Experience w/product     I own it
Features     Features: 10
Reviewer’s Background     Professional Musician
Quality     quality: 9
Reviewer’s Play Style     Worship, Folk, Rock, Britpop
Value     quality: 9

I purchased this guitar two years ago for live playing. The smaller body, flexible electronics were big plusses. Now, two years in, here is what you need to know. – This guitar is made to be played live, plugged in. I play different guitars jamming or on the couch. – The action came set up lower/better than any other acoustic I have ever played, including pro setups. I’ve never made an adjustment. It comes with D’Addario lights, which work better than others I have tried. – The look of the double cutaway will grow on you, and a custom pickguard from terrapin really put behind me any concerns about looks. – The sound is more than anything balanced. Not lots of character… pleasingly balanced, lending itself to amplification. – This will blow your mind. I recently upgraded the magnetic pickup to a L.R.Baggs M1 passive. As easy as unplugging an 1/8″ jack and plugging the next in to the onboard Artec preamp. Seriously 3 minutes. It is ASTOUNDING in combination with the mic and the piezo, through a L.R.Baggs Para DI. Think Taylor expression system good.

I love this guitar.

Posted by wechtermongoose from Tucson, AZ on Jul 8, 2008

Overall     quality: 10
Experience w/product     I own it
Features     Features: 10
Reviewer’s Background     Active Musician
Quality     quality: 10
Reviewer’s Play Style     Blues, Rock
Value     quality: 10

I just got thing guitar today and i am very happy with it. The natural wood finish is beautiful, along with the accent around the edges just adds to the beauty. After tuning it up, it played great straight out of the box and i haven’t put it down since. The acoustic sound alone is very good, but the three pickup system is amazing. It gives you a huge variety of sounds through the amp. This is a great quality acoustic-electric guitar for a decent price. Buy this guitar!

Posted by Frosty_Legacy from Virginia on Feb 2, 2008

Overall     quality: 10
Experience w/product     I own it
Features     Features: 10
Reviewer’s Background     Active Musician
Quality     quality: 10
Reviewer’s Play Style     Solo Acoustic
Value     quality: 10

I’ve had my Pathmaker for a year & a half, & I have to say I couldn’t be happier with it. It sounds great, plays great, & looks great. I perform a solo acoustic act & get nothing but compliments on every front. You can spend more money on other guitars, but you won’t find many that sound better. If you buy it, you’ll find that you spent your money well.

Posted by J.P.H. from Winchester, VA on Dec 9, 2007

Overall     quality: 10
Experience w/product     I own it
Features     Features: 10
Reviewer’s Background     Professional
Quality     quality: 10
Reviewer’s Play Style     Jazz
Value     quality: 10

Three pickup system! Bridge,Mic,pickup. Plugged in this guitar sings, sustains very well. Good for Andy Mckee, Tommy Emmanuel type stuff! The neck is much like an Ibanez electric, this is not a your every day “kills my hands” acoustic. I got it, didnt have to touch a thing, tuned it and was ready to go. The double cutaway allows access to all the frets up the neck. Tone,intonation right on target. Frets are smooth as glass, flat neck,no sharp edges (PLECKED!). Has a 1/4 inch and XLR jack. Beautifull guitar to look at, shell binding with abalone inlays. Fret markers are cool too…just enough to be unique. Headstock shape sets off the axe. This thing plays like a professionally setup electic guitar. My hands are averaged size and I can fly. Great for DI also.

Posted by I’ve been Plecked by Wechter from Illinois on Oct 11, 2007

Overall     quality: 10
Experience w/product     I own it
Features     Features: 10
Reviewer’s Background     Active Musician
Quality     quality: 10
Reviewer’s Play Style     Contemporary Christian
Value     quality: 10

This is a wonderful guitar. The $$’s, the quality, the value, the feature’s are all great. But the best thing about this guitar is the backup from the company. After a couple of years I needed an adjustment. Communicating with the company, Abe Wechter himself, and the people that backup this instrument was simple. This is a great instrument with some great people behind it.

Posted by dgstjohn from Greenwood, MS on Jan 23, 2007

As you can see, I’m not the only one who loves it.

Note: I don’t work for Wechter, nor am I endorsing their guitar for a consideration, fee, or even product. I’m passing this on, because they are available, and they’re great guitars. Of course, if they have a spare “lefty” laying around collecting dust that they want to send my way, I’ll make sure it gets played! 😉

Next time, we’ll talk about what makes a great Electric Guitar!

See ya!

100lft_guitar_ava1Sorry about the out-link to the MP3 file. I’ve yet to figure out how to embed music into the blog, without having to move mountains! Bear with me while I discover how to treat your ears, while I teach your fingers! 😉





Well, I guess it’s up to us left-handed guitar players to straighten things out, huh?

15 02 2009

I’ve been thinking about doing this for a while now…

(Well, actually, I’ve been playing with the idea since about August of 2008…)

And, I’ve even started getting my shit together, so I could get this ball rockin’, but something always came up…

First, I got married… again! That always screws things up! 😉

Then… a hurricane ate our house, and all it’s contents. I had to say goodbye to several of my guitars, and a lot of sound gear!

And if that wasn’t enough, between trying to rebuild and trying to keep things flowin’…

We had a baby! I don’t know how it happened… well, I know “exactly” how it happened (if you don’t you’re on the wrong blog, bucko!) and now he’s tearin’ up the joint!

But, time stands still for no one! I’ve seen stuff… I’ve played stuff… I’ve even seen history… (I was there at Record Plant in the 70’s [1974 to be exact] when Lennon and McCartney “played” together for the last time)…

So… no more wasting time, We’re gonna start anew, with no more lookin’ back, and no more lookin’ over somebody else’s shoulder.

Here we go…

All you have to do is spend 20 minutes at Guitar Center, to realize that a guitar is a “babe” magnet. With the right axe even a geek can get laid, provided the licks are there! But, how do you actually learn to play it? And, what if you’re (gasp!) left-handed? Oh shit… Things just got way more complicated!

I hate to be the one to tell you this, but being a great guitarist isn’t about getting laid. It’s about being a rock solid performer, who channels his or her heart and soul into that guitar, and then bleeds energy out to the audience. THAT gets you laid…

And confidentially, you need to get your priorities straight. If this is all about your “naughty bits,” you have much bigger problems!

Let me guarantee you that you’re gonna spend hours that last for months, getting your chops… And then, you’re gonna have to conquer your stage-fright, and show the world what you’ve got. Being a “lefty” isn’t a curse!

Hell, some of the greatest guitarists that ever lived are (gasp!) lefties!

Lemme see… Jimi Hendrix comes to mind;

jimi140

No one ever tuned into the “cosmic progression” and saw more possibilities for the electric guitar’s place as rock’s “pillar” instrument than Jimi Hendrix. Jimi integrated blues and jazz, used them as his springboard, and then mercilessly pushed his instrument to places his peers could only dream of. Legions of us have been trying to duplicate his licks ever since. But alas, there’s only one “Jimi.” Interestingly enough, Carlos Santana once speculated that Hendrix’s style may have been partly rooted in his Native American heritage. I’m thinkin’ it was the “peyote…” but what do I know? 😉

Then there was that cat… Tommy “Whats-his-name…” you know… the guy with Black Sabbath?

iommi

It’s been said that  Tony Iommi is the man who invented the heavy metal riff. With his ever present SG, the Black Sabbath maestro established the gloomy, minor key patterns and foreboding blues-based solos that continue to define the darker side of the rock genre. Few guitarists have uncovered more permutations within a singular, self-imposed approach. And that includes “righties…”

We’ll throw this guy on the fire, too; Elliot Easton

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Catchy as they were, Rick Ocasek’s neurotic pop songs wouldn’t have been the same without Elliot Easton’s economical leads and spot-on, song-serving solos. Trained at the Berklee College of Music, Easton brought a Beatles-like touch to such Cars classics as “Just What I Needed” and “My Best Friend’s Girl.” Fittingly, Gibson honored him with his own signature SG.

elliott-easton_sg

Play nice and I may have some kind of a contest to “pass it on…” to a deserving “lefty!”

In fact, somebody sent me one… Not bad at all, the neck was so smooth it reminded me of an old joke about “hand-jobs…” 😉

Let’s not forget one of my personal favorites; Sir Paul McCartney

paul_mccartney

In addition to being the most melodic bass stylist in rock history, Paul McCartney has unveiled spectacular six-string artistry on more occasions than you can count! He may be “old school,” but acoustic classics such as “Yesterday” and “Blackbird” remain essential for aspiring guitarists who give equal weight to brilliant songwriting and impeccable technique. It’s a measure of his talent that even in his “old age,” at any of his live performances  Sir Paul makes material look deceptively easy.

And just because I’m a “Southern California Boy,” I’m gonna throw in Dick Dale;

dick

The long esteemed “King of the Surf Guitar,” Dick Dale went out every night and showed ’em how it was done! Dick exerted a huge influence on ’60s groups such as the Beach Boys and Jan and Dean. Now, before you start callin’ me “Grandpa,” I’ll point out that even though Dick was probably before your time, his trademark single-note staccato technique had a tremendous impact on aspiring guitarists everywhere. In fact, virtuoso players like Eddie Van Halen and even Pete Townshend considered him a guitar-playin’ God! And, Dale’s use of exotic Middle Eastern scales (now quite commonly used) was considered daring (and even decadent) for its time as well.

And I can think of a bunch more! Guys like Al King, Otis Rush, Tim Armstrong, and Al McKay, just to name a few!

scd-7501-2albert-king-with-stevie-ray-vaughan-in-session-posters

So even if you’re a lefty, you can do it! I’ve got faith in you. And, if you can’t… well… I still can, and in the end, it’s all about me, huh? 🙂

Okay, I’ll admit that I’m in the biz… I’ve lived in studios and sound rooms all my life. I’ve seen ’em come and I’ve seen ’em go. I’ve tossed their posses out of “green rooms,” and I’ve even stolen a girlfriend or two…

(Frankly, I’ve loved more guitars, than people.)

I’ve owned studios in L.A., New York, and even Las Vegas. I’ve owned more guitars than a guitar store. I’ve toured in more countries than I can remember…

Through it all (and the 70’s are still kinda hazy), I’ve contributed to what I think is a pretty solid body of work, with an “Artist list” that goes on for several pages. In fact, if you started playin’ all the stuff I’ve worked on, that iPod of yours would keep playing for weeks continuously.

The funny thing is that I sit at home, in the studio, playin’ my ass off, with my kid in the sound room listening like he can actually hear each and every note. I’m surrounded by records hanging on the wall… Yet… my kid is still amazed when Jeff Beck knows my name… ‘cuz I’m just “dad.” And he thinks Joe Satriani is a God… Go figure! Oy Vey!

And, you don’t stop playin’ when you’re thirty, either! Lots of us tour into our 50’s and 60’s. Some of us keep at it, writing scores for film, and jingles for advertising. And some of us get to the point where we don’t even have to leave the house, anymore, to shred for some serious cash… I know some of those guys. In fact, they meet at my house, on a regular basis!

Here’s a tip; If you wanna keep your licks, you have to work at it. And, it’s hard work, despite how easy it looks on MTV and VH1…

But, I’m getting sick and tired of  hearing people whining that “they can’t crack in,” or they can’t learn to play, because of this or that.  “Waaaaaa-waaaa-waaa!” That’s just crap! To those guys, I just say this; “Grow a spine!”

It’s about talent, determination, and drive.

It’s that simple.

First, you learn the fundamentals. Then, you learn the tricks. Then, and only then, you start getting “original.” Stevie and Carlos didn’t come out of Momma’s chute with a guitar neck glued to their little hands and a pick in their mouths… Jeff and Joe didn’t go to Wal*Mart and buy a can of “Incredi-Shred.” They learned to shred, by practicing for hours that lasted for days, going on weeks. And then, after their fingers stopped bleeding, they started over.

And it doesn’t matter if you’ve got an “inny,” or an “outie.” Girls can shred, too! Just ask Lita Ford, or that Aussie Wonder “Oriantha!”

As a “leftie,” much of what I’ll teach here will pertain to that “chosen few,” who despite being “wrong-handed,” are gonna conquer their dragons, and learn to shred like one of those guys on “Iron Chef!” 😉

For those of you “righties” that stop by, the principles will still apply, you’ll just have to practice the “application,” in the mirror. Don’t feel bad, some of us have been doing it for years… 🙂

We’re gonna talk about the business of making music, in spite of those who would watch you fail.

Stay tuned!

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