Friday, 20 December 2013

Nirvana to be elevated to Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

In 2014 the US Rock and Roll hall of fame are set to induct among others Nirvana and Peter Gabriel.

The ceremony takes place next April where Kiss, Hall and Oates, Peter Gabriel, Linda Ronstadt and Cat Stevens will also be elevated to the elite musical club.

This is first year Nirvana have been eligible to win their place in the Hall of Fame as it is 25 years since their first release and a panel of industry experts put them forward to receive the nod.

Brian Epstein the former Beatles manager, who died in 1967, will also be honoured for his life's work.

Another award winner is Andrew Loog Oldham, the record producer and manager who propelled the Rolling Stones to worldwide fame, collecting an award for his contribution to the music industry.

US group the E Street Band, known for their collaborations with Bruce Springsteen, are also being inducted into the Hall of Fame through a musical excellence award.

Nirvana shot to fame in the early 90s as the most prominent band in the Seattle grunge scene, they produced a series of hits including Smells Like Teen Spirit and Come As You Are.

The three critically acclaimed full-length studio albums were a revelation, they went on to be one ofthe best-selling rock bands in history with an estimated 75 million sales. Famously frontman Kurt Cobain's committed suicide in 1994 aged 27.

British musician Peter Gabriel was already inducted in 2010 as a member of rock band Genesis, while Cat Stevens - now known as Yusuf Islam - has been nominated for the honour in the past.

With trademark black and white make-up and costumes Kiss are known for their extravagant performances, where as Darryl Hall and John Oates the song-writing and performance partners have scored six US number hits in their career.

This year's inductees were selected by more than 600 music industry personnel from a long-list of candidates, whose first work must have been released at least 25 years ago.

Thursday, 5 December 2013

Would you like to be able to play your guitar as if it were a keyboard?

There are many different guitar add-ons of varying quality and usefulness, each claims to add another dimension to the guitar playing experience and often many do not deliver. The Hammer Jammer however, may just be one that does deliver on its potential.

It's an interesting concept in that it allows you to add a percussive element to you guitar and almost play it as if it were a keyboard. This claim is that this could act as a source of inspiration for both acoustic and electric guitar players, allowing you to innovate playing styles and techniques.

Check out the demo video above and don't forget to let us know what you think. Would this device be useful for you or do you think its a waste of time? Or has anyone actually used it and what were the results?

I believe the video is a interesting demonstration of how useful this device could be in your performances, not only for providing inspiration for composing, but also for adding textural layers when recording. It comes cheap at around £20 too and fits on any guitar without modification!

Gibson Full Guitar Line-up for 2014 Revealed

The 2014 guitar line-up has just been revealed by Gibson, with the prestigious manufacturer making some interesting and innovative changes.

Check out a gallery of the new guitars over at Music Radar. 
2014 also signals the 120th anniversary of the manufacturer, leading them to roll out a whopping 28 models, many of them with distinctive new pickups, features and finishes. Including some nice colour variations, new specifications to their existing guitars and some reductions in pricing. Some of the more eye catching colours include a transparent seafoam green colour on the Les Paul Classic, a transparent faded denim colour on the Les Paul Traditional and the SG Futura – Min-ETune in glossy turquoise!
On many of the new models a 120th Anniversary logo has been placed on the 12th fret position. Alongside other new features like the widespread implementation of the Min-ETune automatic tuning unit, PLEK fingerboard set ups and four new pickup types, alongside undercut frets (meaning many models with lack the 'nibs' of binding that have traditionally covered fret edges on Gibson fretboards).
Not to mention other new additions such as redesigned strap buttons, cryogenically treated fret wire, Max Grip speed knobs and the widespread deployment of GraphTech nuts.
If you would like a full run down of each new guitar Music Radar have a detailed breakdown (linked above) and of course visit the official Gibson website for more details.

Friday, 22 November 2013

The 'Gods' of Rock 001 - Jimi Hendrix (Part 2)

So by 1966 Jimi had met Chas Chandler, the Animals former bass player, and as luck would have it he was looking for an upcoming star to manage. Chandler went to work convincing Hendrix to travel to England with him, once there he teamed him up with British musicians Noel Redding (bass) and Mitch Mitchell (drums) and formed The Jimi Hendrix Experience. The idea was originally that they were Hendrix’s backing band, but it became clear that they were more like a super group in the mould of bands like Cream, as they all brought unique and exciting offerings to the band. Together they release three excellent albums that features some of rock’s most influential guitar work. Are You Experienced?(1967), Axis: Bold as Love (1967) and Electric Ladyland (1968) all rank highly in Rolling Stone magazine’s top 500 albums of all time.
Jimi Hendrix ExpereinceThe Jimi Hendrix Experience quickly established themselves in England and other parts of Europe. The UK often ahead of the curve when it comes to new music fully embraced the band. Their fans in high places such as The Who’s Pete Townsend, Eric Clapton and The Beatles aided their rise to popularity. Paul McCartney himself recommended that the band were booked to play the 1967 Monterey Pop Festival in California. This performance proved a seminal moment for the band, coinciding with the “Summer of Love” it catapulted Hendrix to stardom in the United States. The explosive set ended with the legendary burning and smashing of Hendrix’s guitar during a cover of Wild Thing.
Jimi Hendrix’s astronomical rise was not without tensions. Redding left the group in ‘68 and Hendrix was caught up in a series of legal troubles that included drug arrests and contract disputes.
Another defining moment came on August 18th, 1969, at the Woodstock Music Festival as Hendrix performed with a group called “A Band of Gypsies”. During this infamous set, they performed the reinterpretation of The Star Spangled Banner which caused shock and awe across America. This was a defining musical moment of the 1960's hippie movement, it was this five minute psychedelic blues improvisation. Hendrix had always maintained an avid interest in the hippie movement and this moment for which he is often remembered become iconic.
Hendrix was lauded for not only his flamboyant shows and guitar stage tricks, but also his true-to-roots blues arrangements and his pioneering work with multi-tracking and use of effects. He toured and recorded constantly creating over three hundred unreleased recordings. Tragically, Jimi Hendrix was found dead on September 18, 1970 under circumstances that have never been fully explained. Drugs and alcohol are often blamed, but like most legends that die young the causes of their death are often shrouded in mystery.

Understandably, Jimi Hendrix’s image has taken on an iconic stature but nothing really overshadows his musical achievements.  Endless praise is often heaped on him for his innovations and contributions to popular music, but it should never be forgotten that he also created amazing and brilliant three minute songs like Purple Haze, Little Wing, The Wind Cries Mary, If 6 Was 9, Rainy Day Dream Away and Angel will always be as memorable as they are incomparable.

Friday, 15 November 2013

The 'Gods' of Rock 001 - Jimi Hendrix (Part 1)

People recognise his guitar playing straight away. An extravagant take on psychedelic rock which was not only recognisable but revolutionary take on the music. You can hear his spirit and swagger channelled by almost anyone who has ever played electric. Even though he died over forty years ago he is still an icon and one of the most important “guitar gods.”
Jimi Hendrix Guitar

The Hendrix legacy has endured and it could be said it almost eclipses pretty much every guitarist to have come along since. He experimented with feedback and effects which challenged conventional approaches to playing the guitar and his blues inspired riffs led the way for hard rock and heavy metal. Redefining what it is to play the electric guitar itself:

“Musically, Hendrix did much to further the development of the electric guitar’s repertoire, establishing it as a unique sonic source, rather than merely an amplified version of the acoustic guitar. Likewise, his feedback, wah-wah and fuzz-laden soloing moved guitar distortion well beyond mere novelty, incorporating other effects pedals and units specifically designed for him.” – Wikipedia

Often Hendrix’s flashy persona took the limelight, but it must never be forgotten how talented a musician, writer and producer he was:

“His frequent hurricane blasts of noise and dazzling showmanship — he could and would play behind his back and with his teeth and set his guitar on fire — has sometimes obscured his considerable gifts as a songwriter, singer, and master of a gamut of blues, R&B, and rock styles.” – All Music Guide

Born in Seattle in 1942, he had a difficult childhood, often living in the care of relatives and even sometimes acquaintances. His mother, Lucille, only 17-years-old when Hendrix was born had a stormy relationship with his father, Al. Eventually his mother left the family after having two more children with his father. Hendrix only saw his mother occasionally before her death in 1958.

It seems music acted as a sanctuary for Hendrix. He taught himself to play guitar inspired by the blues music of which he was an avid fan. When he was 14, Hendrix saw Elvis Presley perform. Inspired by this he got his first electric guitar the following year. In 1959, Hendrix dropped out of high school. He worked odd jobs while continuing to follow his musical aspirations. Unfortunately after this he came unstuck with the law and wound up doing a stint in the U.S. army to avoid jail. Finally freed from his military obligations after a year, he focused on music full time.

With a renewed focus he tried his luck around Tennessee, playing in the backing bands for many Blues, R & B and Soul stars including Jackie Wilson and Sam Cooke. Spending all this time in Nashville and in the other cities on the famous “Chitlin’ Circuit” established him and his talents. Then in January 1964 he made the move to New York City, winning a talent contest at the Apollo Theatre within a month. This appeared to be the beak he was looking for and it landed him a gig playing lead guitar for the Isley Brothers and led not only to touring, but work with Little Richard and King Curtis. Hendrix was later quoted as saying “I want to do with my guitar what Little Richard does with his voice.”

To be continued in Part 2....

Friday, 8 November 2013

Why not give your thumbs a rest...

We handed today's post over to Thumb Rest maestro Guy Lewis, he discusses all things thumb rests, how he makes them and how he got into making them...

Bass Guitar Thumbrest Ebony Standard 2-Hole image
I began making bass guitar thumb rests by accident really when I was given an old but excellent quality Fender Precision copy by a friend. It had two mysterious holes in the pickguard which after a little research I realised were for a thumb rest (or tug bar as they are sometimes called.)Wishing to restore the instrument to its former glory I bought a replacement hollow plastic thumb rest from Ebay, fitted it and found it suited my playing-style but I hated its cheap look and feel.

Being a furniture designer/maker with a lifetime’s experience in working wood, it made sense to me to make one for myself from a quality exotic timber. I had some black ebony off-cuts from the studio-desk boxes I was making at the time which I found was perfect.

In fact I made two thumb rests and listed the second one on Ebay where it sold very quickly. I made a further ten which again sold well and here I am, six years later still producing these quirky little replacement parts and selling them all over the World.

I still make them by hand in very small batches but my range has now expanded to include many different exotic woods and also decorative solid cast acrylic and polyester ones. A lot of hand work goes into making these simple parts but it is worth the effort as they look and feel sublime.

Recently I developed a low-profile thumb rest which doesn't protrude as much as a standard one and doesn't really change the appearance of the instrument. It is proving very popular.

Another aspect of my work is making custom one-off thumb rests for players with very specific demands. Sometimes the rests are extra-long and thin, other times they are absolutely tiny. Within reason, any designs can be made and won’t cost nearly as much as you might expect for a bespoke one-off part.

If you would take a look at the thumb rests you can find them here.

Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Does the Guitar of the future have no body?

  • This futuristic titanium instrument claims to be more responsive than other guitars.
  • Is made from aircraft grade titanium with fret markings provided by LED lights.
  • New York group trying to raise $80k and bring the product to market.

Minimalist DesignerIn the 1970’s musician and minimalist designer Alan Gittler came up with a design that he believed could revolutionise guitars of the future. His design for a guitar had no body or neck and was to be the first made with all-titanium.

With minimalist principles in mind Gittler set out to remove all the non essential elements, stripping the guitar back to the core of its functionality and leaving only what couldn't be removed if it was still to work.

Although wood has been used since the first ever guitar, it has been proved that it is not necessary for the instrument to function.

‘The basic elements of vibration and gain were the only truly indispensable elements at play when making sound,’ claims New York-based Gittler Instruments.

Everything else, it said, simply existed to shape and mould that sound to the individual player's taste.

The thinking behind this was that by stripping back the instrument to its pure functionality, it would become ultra responsive to every nuance of playing, however subtle. By doing this better sounds and playing techniques could be developed. Gittler also did away with not only the body but most of the neck and all volume and tone controls.

In 2013, Gittler's son Jonathan is carrying on his father's legacy by reinventing the bare bones bass. The latest version of the guitar is manufactured entirely of 6AL-4V aircraft grade titanium. Like his fathers original design, it has no neck or body - although an acrylic guitar neck can be added, if needed. Fret marking is done with built-in LED lights installed in tiny cross holes across the guitar's central channel.

An electronic box in the back of the guitar contains a volume wheel, dual tone controls for treble and bass.
Gittler GuitarThe 30.25 inch and three inch wide Gittler guitars are thought to be the world's first model to include six transducers in a single guitar unit.

Gittler Instruments said it is now ready to bring a fully realised concept, and not just a prototype, to the market. It has launched a campaign via crowdsourcing site Kickstarter to raise $80,000 by November 14.
A $2,000 pledge will get you one of the first Gittler guitars made for the mass market.

Although you'll have to follow that up with another $1,995 payment to receive the instrument, which the group promises will provide a 'guitar playing experience that is out of this world.'

Friday, 18 October 2013

How to make money teaching guitar...

If you're reading this Blog, I think its fair to assume you can probably play at least a few chords on the guitar. However, if you're a certified guitar master who can put Hendrix to shame or more likely, a competent player who wants to make a bit more cash from their skill. Maybe you should consider spreading your skills to other hungry apprentices?

Some guitarists make a full time living from this, but even if you could earn a side income from your efforts, that could still be a worthwhile use of your talent, right? If so, read on for all the info.
Earning Money from Guitar Lessons

There is a difference between playing Guitar and Teaching it

Before embarking on teaching guitar it is worth remembering that being able to play well, doesn't necessarily mean you can teach it well. Passing on knowledge to someone else is a completely different skill than being able to do it yourself. To teach well, try to see things from their point of view. Just because something is obvious to you it doesn't mean it is to them, you only know it because of experience and learning it. If your pupil is a complete beginner, the chances are they don't know the 'obvious' things. Think back to how you learnt and what helped you to grasp the concepts originally, it may also help to think back to any lessons you had for some inspiration. Being a great guitar player is certainly an advantage, but by no means is it a given that you will be a great teacher.

Do you need to be qualified?

There is no need for a formal qualification, but you do need to be qualified in the sense that you need to know what you're talking about and able to impart good practices onto your students. If you're not fully confident you can make people better guitarists, it may be best not to give lessons quite yet. You need to be able to teach your students something worthwhile and they need to see that they can learn something from you.

There are three main ways of teaching giving guitar lessons, they are:

1) Teaching in Person

This the obvious and traditional method of teaching guitar, one to one. in person. Whether you take one student or multiple, you meet them at their house, yours or a studio. 

This can either be done by doing private lessons (that are usually more lucrative) or by teaching in a school, college or an academy. Doing private lessons means you're your own boss, can work when you want and not working for anyone else. Teaching in a school requires you to apply for a job and they are typically looking for qualifications as prove of your expertise or ability to teach. Having a job as a guitar teacher is however a regular pay packet, so will suit those who prefer the stability and a guaranteed income.

2) Teaching Guitar Lessons Online

Another option is to teach your lessons online via a video calling service such as Skype. This is virtually the same as teaching in person and you get to be your own boss. The obvious difference is that your doing it over the internet. The convenience comes in not having to travel to teach your students, you can fit more lessons into shorter time period and you can spread the lessons out throughout the day. You are also not restricted by your local area, meaning you could teach someone on the other side of the world. 

The downsides are that you won't be able to physically adjust their hand movements if a student is having difficulty picking something up, and you'll be staring at a computer screen the whole time (some people don't like this). If you can live with the down sides though, this is a very good way to get your guitar teaching business started.

3) Pre-Recorded Lessons Online

A pre-recorded course, hosted on a site with a pupil membership fee or on video streaming sites such as YouTube where you receive revenue from advertising, is a very effective way of teaching guitar. It also requires the least effort, as once you have recorded all the lessons that a pupil will need there is no further effort required, except maybe a few help emails. You can teach hundreds or even thousands of pupils at the same time, with no further effort from yourself! This wouldn't be possible if you tried to use the other two methods. The money you will receive per lesson is likely to be less, but you can make up for this in the frequency of lessons. Also similar way to the second method, you have even less interaction with your pupils to guide their learning. 

Which is best?

There is no definitive best way, they all have their good and bad points. It is all about finding the method you find most effective and using that. For any of the methods to work though, you'll have to market your services effectively to get some students in the first place. In this day and age that means a website, social media and more besides. We know a thing or two about getting the word out about a guitar business, so drop us a line and we could point you in the right direction for advice. 

Thursday, 3 October 2013

The Guide to Buying your first Guitar - Part 2

So in Part One we talked about guitar types, your preferred genre, budget, flexibility and portability. We will now go into more detail on acoustic and electric recommendations, where to buy, online shopping and everything else you need to know...

Guitar StoresAcoustic: A steel string acoustic is probably the best choice for newbies, especially as your fingers get used to the heavier strings. so once you can play it you can easily switch to other guitars. It is also portable and flexible with the regards to the musical styles that can played on it.

Acoustic Recommendations:

  • Ibanez G Series G100 Classical Acoustic Guitar
  • Yamaha Gigmaker Deluxe Acoustic Guitar Package (standard size)
  • Squier MA-1 ¾-Size Steel-String Acoustic Guitar (¾ size)
  • Epiphone PR-4E Acoustic-Electric Player Pack

Electric: Although we recommended an acoustic for beginners, its actually easier to learn on an electric. However, it is also easier to pick up bad habits because the electronics and amplifier will cover your mistakes. This can hinder your future development and progress if left unchecked. Also worth considering is the space the amp will need and the fact you will need it on hand if you want to practice. We recommend a fixed bridge electric guitar for beginners to remove potential maintenance issues, a floating bridge which is the alternative has several moving parts so that a whammy bar can installed.

Electric Recommendations:

  • Dean Playmate EVO Junior Solid Body Electric Guitar, Classic Black, ¾-Size
  • Ibanez IJX121 Metal Guitar Jumpstart Package
  • Amplifier: 15 - 40 watts is plenty for home use

Where to Buy?

When it comes to buying your treasured first guitar there is no where better than a music store, they are generally the friendliest retail environments you will get. The staff are usually extremely passionate about music and always keen to share their passion. So if you let them know that you are a first time buyer, you’ll more than likely get some expert guidance.

When deciding make sure you get a staff member or a friend to play a selection of guitars for you so can hear if you like the sound. Also make sure that you’re strumming arm can easily reach around the body, check this by handling the guitars and see how it feels how it fits. As its your first guitar don’t stress about the type of wood its made from, however solid wood tends to be better than laminate material though.

So if the sound is good, it is comfortable to play and is within your price range, then this is the one to go for!

Also remember just like many retail environments, products that are on the shop floor on display are used for demo purposes. Guitars that have been used for demo's and played many times by others run the risk of being damaged.

  • Warping is bad, look down the neck and make sure it’s perfectly straight.
  • Make sure there isn't any cracks, imperfections or dings.
  • Make sure the frets (the bars that run across the neck) are flush with the edge of the neck. They should not stick out beyond the neck, nor should they be shorter than the width of the neck.

If the guitar is damaged do not buy it, it is likely to let you down and ultimately need replacement in the future.

Ask your guitar playing friend or staff member to check that the strings are not set too high off the fret board. If they are too high, you will find it difficult to press the strings to the fret board. If it is too low there will be a rattling sound whilst playing. It is important to get this right.

You also need to be sure you get a new set of high quality strings put on it and that the store will tune it. Especially, as mentioned, if the guitar has been played many time in store.

The look of the guitar is also important, you want to get something that makes you feel like a superstar even if you can’t play anything yet.

Buying Online: As long as you know the guitar you want, then this should be relatively simple. However, please be aware that you cannot carry out any of the tests mentioned above and this may mean returning if their turns out to be a problem.

Please remember to support your local guitar store, especially if they offer fantastic service. Even if you can find the guitar cheaper elsewhere, you are more than likely to be able to negotiate and see if they can be competitive. The knowledge and experience these stores offer is invaluable for newbies and experienced players alike.

Please leave your first guitar buying recommendations below or let us know on social media.

Tuesday, 24 September 2013

The Guide to Buying your first Guitar - Part 1

We know many of our readers are avid and experienced guitar players, but buying your first guitar can be daunting. So we thought a guide to buying your first guitar would be helpful.
So what type of guitar will suit you? There are five types to choose from including:
  • Electric
  • Acoustic (Steel Strings)
  • Classical Acoustic (Nylon Strings)
  • Acoustic-Electric (Acoustic Guitar with option to plug into an amp)
  • ¾ Size: for petite people and younger children

Which one you choose will depend on several factors, including:

Genre: If you prefer a particular style or know which genre of music you want to play, you can easily narrow down the guitar you need to buy. So if you’re into rock, metal, punk etc it will be electric; acoustic if its country or folk; RnB, blues, jazz can be either and Spanish or classical will be a classical guitar.
Buying a Guitar
Getting a suitable guitar for your genre will mean you’ll find it easier to create the sound you are after and more than likely find it more enjoyable. If you’re buying a guitar for your child, we would recommend getting the guitar for the genre they enjoy. If they want to rock out like Nirvana there is no point buying an acoustic guitar, as it may well end up cluttering up the house and gathering dust within a month.
Budget: No matter your budget you need to buy a guitar that gives you a good sound, if it doesn't it could well be a total waste of money. Equally there is no point spending a lot of money on a guitar for a beginner who won’t know if it is something they will stick at. Spending between £150 and £300 should ensure you have a guitar that will last beyond a year of playing. Acoustic guitars are usually the cheapest as its just a guitar you’re purchasing. Electric guitars require amps, cables etc and acoustic-electric’s are usually the most expensive because it requires expert craftsmanship and electronic work to be able to combine both.
Second Hand Guitars:  Be very careful when buying a second hand guitar. Guitars are delicate instruments and it’s important to have a knowledgeable friend on hand to check it over. It needs to be able to hold it’s tune for several hours and there needs to be no major warping.
Flexibility and Portability can be a deciding factor if you’re still in doubt. An acoustic doesn't need an amp and can be played in a variety of environments (including a camp-fire when you have no electricity). The electric guitar could be played without plugging it in, but it wouldn't provide the sound that you bought the guitar for. The unique and louder sounds are what makes the electric guitar what it is. The electric guitar is the most durable, since the body is solid and less likely to crack if it gets banged around. The Acoustic-Electric is the most flexible (and expensive), as it can be used as a regular acoustic, or plug in to be amplified for a larger audience (even with the plug-ins it still produces an acoustic sound).
In Part 2 of this guide we will go further into our recommendations of makes, models, where to buy and what will be the best guitar for you….

Thursday, 12 September 2013

Do the “Only Band that Matters” still matter? Here’s 5 Reasons why they do...

A new Clash box set called "Sound System."  is set to be released next week, so I thought now was as good a time as any to reflect on their legacy. The collection, which is shaped like a boombox, contains newly remastered versions of the group's five official albums, as well as three CDs of demos and singles, a DVD of video footage, a new edition of the "Armagideon Times" fanzine, and even some badges.

Sound System Boxset The Clash became one of the biggest bands in the world in the late seventies and this box set celebrates their legacy. After all the clash are not just any punk band, indeed calling the Clash a "punk band" is like calling the Beatles a "Merseybeat combo." Their music included dollops of rockabilly, reggae, country, rap, soul and jazz, a true mix of styles that made for some of the most exciting records and live shows of the rock 'n' roll era.
Here are my five reasons they still matter...

1. The name says it all! The name itself, taken from current affairs, represents their intentions and ideas. Whether referencing news reports on the clashes between rioters and police, or the clash of nations in conflict. It represents the aggression they sometimes inspired, a clash of opposing forces and a clash of styles they espoused artistically.

At the time pop music or at least white mainstream rock was a boring joke that said nothing, old music held all the excitement. They had seen the excitement of the 60’s and were the antithesis to the standing for nothing 70’s Rock scene.

2. They never forgot their fans As famous as they became, they never forgot what it was like to be the devoted fan in the audience. They remembered the feeling of loving a band with all their heart and soul. They never forgot the power the best bands have over their audience and the responsibility that came with it. There is no more proof of this needed than the legendary stories of them smuggling broke fans backstage, giving fans a lift home from gigs and letting them crash on their hotel room floor.

3. They reflected the area and times they grew up in 
They rehearsed in the old British Rail buildings near Camden Lock, the Clash’s placed W10 and W11 at the centre of their iconography and sound. White Riot for instance, placed listener in the centre of the riot that ended the Notting Hill carnival of 1976, with news reports talking of “clashes” between police and carnival-goers.

4. They had diverse influences. The Ramones were a massive influence for almost all the punk bands that popped up in the late 70’s and the Clash were no different. However, unlike these bands their influences were spread far and wide, in particular Reggae played a massive part in their sound. London was awash with the sounds of Reggae and Dub in the 70’s and they uniquely reflected this. It it’s proof you’re looking for, just listen to the bass line on “White Man in Hammersmith Palais”, the cover of “Police and Thieves”.
At their best, The Clash broke down barriers. Dub. Reggae. Punk. Soul. Rock. Element’s of all of these took roots in their music.

5. They didn't carry on forever. Unlike many of the great rock bands in history there was no money raking reunion world tours, neither was there a procession of uninspired and complacent albums made when they were too rich to care. All their music was vital and had something to say, they were always about change and the idea ‘there must be a better way’.

As much as they weren’t constrained by a genre, they weren't constrained by the idea of making as much money as possible either, which is possibly why the legacy of their music is so great.

They went global and became superstars, but their accents remained defiantly British and so did their music, always reflecting the unique mix of people that make up the urban inner cities of the UK. This same lineage can be found in music such as Rave, Drum N Bass, Grime, Dubstep and much more besides.

And finally, in my opinion in today’s confused political world a band like The Clash is needed more than ever.

Friday, 30 August 2013

How to Set-up an Electric Guitar!

Once you’ve bought a new guitar setting it up correctly is essential so that you get the most out of it. When you get a new guitar, the factory setup is likely to have general playability issues and intonation problems, which can make playing the guitar impossible since it is always out of tune.

Setting up your instrument involves adjusting the hardware of a guitar and fine tuning it so that these obstacles are removed. You will need to adjust the neck, string height and saddle position.

Tools Required for Electric Guitar Setup:
1) Allen Key 2) Screwdrivers 3) String Cutters 4) Straight Edge 5) Feeler Gauges 6) Ruler 7) Capo 8) Guitar Tuner

Step One - Neck Adjustment

Tools required:
Allen Key (or sometimes a screwdriver or nut driver)
Straight Edge

Firstly you need to check whether the neck is straight or not and If the neck is not straight, then it will need to be adjusted via the truss rod.

The truss rod is a metal rod running through the centre of the neck and tightening or loosening it will determine the bow of the neck. This means that you can manually flex the rod in either direction in order to achieve the straight neck.

Where the headstock meets the neck, is the place where the truss rod is usually adjusted. Although, some models may be adjusted from the base of the neck, meaning that you will have to remove the neck in order to make your adjustments.

Checking the bow of the neck:

If you have a Straight Edge, you can place this along the neck or you can place a Capo on fret 1 then press the string on fret 17.

At this point, If you have them use your feeler gauges to measure the gap between the string and the fret at fret 8. If you do not have these then you can try to use a ruler or your best guess. The gap should be approximately 0.10inches or 0.25mm between the string and the top of the 8th fret.

If the gap is less than 0.25mm you will need to loosen the truss rod by turning it counter-clockwise.

If the gap is more than 0.25mm you will need to tighten the truss rod by turning it clockwise.
Tip: Always be careful when adjusting the truss rod, if you are finding it difficult or it is stiff when you are trying to adjust it, you may be better taking it to a professional instead.

Result: You should finish this process with a straight neck setup, with no curve or bow along its length. It is important you get this right, because if you need to adjust it again you will have to repeat all the steps again.

Step Two - String Height

Tools Required:
Allen Key

Once you have the neck setup straight, you will need to check your string height. It is important to set the string height correctly as any changes made at the end of the setup will require you to correct the tone a second time.

To setup the string height you will place a Capo on fret 1 and then use the Ruler to measure the gap between the strings and the frets at fret 12.

You may use your personal preference when setting string height, however there is an widely accepted measurement of 1.2mm-1.6mm gap from the fret to the string.

Adjusting the string height is done via the saddles on a Fender style guitar bridge or by adjusting the entire bridge on a Gibson style bridge.

Step Three - Intonation

Tools Required:
Guitar Tuner

Intonation is the relative tuning of your guitar as your play up the fretboard. To put it simply, intonation can make your guitar sound really good or really horrible. Without having your guitar properly intonated, chords and solos played higher on the fretboard will sound out of tune while open chords sound in tune. Basically, it will be impossible to tune your guitar.

Adjusting intonation entails changing the length of each individual string by moving the saddles on the guitar bridge backwards or forwards. The aim is to make the a harmonic at fret 12. I.e. the note will be the exact same pitch as when the string is played open (but an octave higher).

Plug in your guitar tuner and tune the instrument so that it is at the correct pitch when played open. Once done:

Play the low E string open and then fretted at fret 12.

- If the note is flat you will need to move the saddle forward towards the neck, shortening the string.
- If the note is sharp you will need to move the saddle backward away from the neck, so that the string is lengthened.

On a Fender style bridge, the screws to adjust the saddles are at the back of the bridge.

On a Gibson style bridge, the screws to adjust the saddles are accessed from the front of the bridge beneath the strings.

Once the length of your strings have been adjusted, the notes played at the 12th Fret and the notes played unfretted ought to be the same. I.e. an E string played open is also an E note when the same string is played with the 12th fret depressed.

You’re done!

If you’ve got this far without any problems then you should have effectively completed the setup of your guitar. If you do have any problems don’t hesitate to contact a professional, as the initial setup may be daunting to a complete beginner.

Monday, 5 August 2013

Are you a left-handed guitar player?

If you are, do you play a left-handed guitar, a modified right-handed guitar or have you just learnt to play right-handed?

Left Handed GuitarAccording to Wikipedia some of the big names in the music industry including Jimi Hendrix, Paul McCartney, Bob Geldof and Paul Simon are or were also left handed guitarists. Some choose to play a right-handed guitar and others, a modified or left-handed version.

Playing a left-handed guitar 
Generally players either chose to play left-handed guitars with the strings conventionally arranged to suit the left-handed, so with the low string on the top side of the guitar’s neck, or with the strings arranged as they would be on a right-handed guitar. With the latter, the strings are essentially backwards for a left-handed player, but that doesn't stop Bob Geldof strumming a tune. 

Playing a right-handed guitar 
However, some left-handed guitarists play modified right-handed guitars. This is when the strings are arranged to suit a left-handed player. Paul McCartney favours both left-handed and modified right-handed guitars. Well he is multi-talented. 

So was Jimi Hendrix. He learnt to play the right-handed guitar, right-handed under the insistence of his father despite being left-handed. However, being a rebel he also secretly mastered playing the guitar left-handed, but upside down and right-handed with the strings upside down. 

How to change the strings on a right-handed guitar

This involves changing the nut to accommodate the string widths. Also the bridge to allow the lower strings to be longer than the top strings for the right intonation. Remember the controls will be backwards on an electric guitar if modified in this way.

Need a little help getting to grips with your left-handed guitar? Then you’ll find a selection of useful books on our website dedicated to left-handed technique, chords and scales.