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.