Thursday, 29 May 2014

27 Unusual And Creative Guitars

The guitar is more than just an instrument. It is a way of life, it is freedom, creativity. It is joy, frustration, love and every emotion in between. The humble guitar can also be a work of art in its own right. Take a look at these beauties below if you don't believe us! Do they play well? Who really cares?

1. Backbone Guitar

2. Mario Guitar

3.  Gibson 'Bonrich' Les Paul

4. 2006 Hamer Little Uncle Dick

5. Dragon Guitar

6. Bigfoot Guitar

7. Axe Guitar

8. Lego Guitar

9. Jerry Can Guitar

10. Angel Guitar

11. B Wing Guitar

12. Pacman Guitar

Leaf Guitar

14. Steampunk Guitar

15. Chinese Dragon guitar

16. Ikon Arachnoid

17. ESP Shinigami

18. Hand Guitar

19. Skateboard Guitar

20. Lava Guitar

21. AK47 Guitar

22. Flaming Skull Guitar

23. Scissor Guitar

24. Castrol Guitar

25. Alien Guitar

26. Cadillac Guitar

27. NES Guitar

Friday, 16 May 2014

The Top 5 Summer Rock Songs...

It seems that British summer has finally arrived, so there is no time like the present to line up your favourite summer jams on the stereo. We've picked just a few of the amazing summer rock songs out there and some personal favourites, but don't forget to let us know what yours are. Also don't forget to make sure to enjoy the good weather whilst you can!

1) 'Summer in the City'
The Lovin' Spoonful

In the summer of 1966 this was the anthem that reached No.1 on the Billboard Hot 100. Originally written as a poem by front man John Sebastian's brother mark, this is an amazing summer song. An ode to the electric vibe of a sunny day in a big city, it doesn't get much better. The type of songs that rocks hard but still allows you have a good dance, a classic.

2) 'Here Comes the Sun'
The Beatles

Compared to Lennon and McCartney George Harrison may not have written many of the Beatles songs. However, when he did they were some of their best tunes and certainly some of the catchiest pop numbers. This is a perfect summer pop song and is the perfect ode to the early days of the summer. The feeling that better days are ahead, runs throughout this classic. Harrison wrote the tune using Eric Clapton's acoustic guitar while visiting "Slowhand" at his house.

3) 'Summertime Blues'
The Who
A cover of Eddie Cochran's 1958 hit. The Who changed this into edgy hard-rocking number as part of their live shows. The 1970 'Live at Leeds' concert album was a classic and this this cover is one of the reasons. Daltrey attacks the bluesy tone of the original alongside Pete Townsend's hard rocking guitar riffs. There was a studio version discovered in 1998, but the live version is still great.

4) 'Long Hot Summer Night'
Jimi Hendrix Experience
The long hot summer nights are some of life's greatest pleasures. On this track Hendrix musically cuts through the humidity of a sweltering evening and lets us know "my baby's comin' to rescue me". The bluesy track boasts a piano contribution from Al Kooper and has Hendrix on all the vocal tracks. 

5) 'Summer Nights'
Van Halen
Having fun in the summertime is one of our favourite things to do and the Van Halen guys certainly agree. On the bands first album without David Lee Roth, 1986's '5150', Hagar sings about what he knows best: having fun in the summertime. Chuck in some great guitar licks from Eddie Van Halen and this is the complete package, party time!

Friday, 9 May 2014

Scientists find Guitarists' Brains are Wired Differently

The debate about whether we are born with talent or develop it is a contentious issue that has rumbled on for years, both sides of the argument have looked to science for answers and a new report tells us the answer may lie in our brain chemistry. 
As reported in Policy Mic, the recent studies on the issue have produced some interesting results. People often talk about "onstage chemistry" between musicians and science now suggests this could be a real thing. The study has found that the brains of guitar players actually function differently to everyone else.
 A 2012 study in Berlin shows us that  musicians playing together can actually synchronise their brains. Scientists scanned the brains of 12 pairs of guitar players performing the same piece of music, astonishingly it was revealed that the guitarists' neural networks would synchronise for the performance and incredibly slightly before they started playing. They were in a way reading each others' minds.
Neural research also indicates that this ability to synchronise may stem from a guitarists overarching intuition. In another study looking at the neuroscience of improvisation, scientists found that guitarists can momentarily deactivate regions of their brain when improvising or playing complicated pieces. This means they shift to a state of unconscious thought, which means they really are "in the zone".
The right temporoparietal junction is the region of the brain that typically deactivates in situations of “goal-directed behaviour”. This acts to inhibit distraction by irrelevant stimuli (hecklers or bottle throwers etc) that might impair the performance. When a non-musician attempts to perform this is not the case, they are acutely aware of these detractions, this indicates a brain scan could in fact tell the guitar Gods from the hobbyists.
Although, it doesn't conclusively prove this neural behaviour is inherent. The brain revises and remodels itself throughout our lives, so we can develop skills we weren't born with.
The renowned neuroscientist Gary Marcus tackled this issue in his 2012 book Guitar Zero, throughout the book he tried to discover whether musical skill and talent can be acquired later in life. He himself tried to learn guitar for the first time age 40 and looked at a number of musicians who arrived at their talent later in life.
As we all know, and feel, guitar playing isn't just about the chemicals in our brains. Its about the way it makes us feel.

Wednesday, 7 May 2014

Spotting A Counterfeit Guitar

Counterfeits are a global problem, just last week over a million dollars worth of fake guitars were seized in Jersey City. Clearly, the world is awash with fake guitars, so what can be done to combat the problem?

The manufacture is out of our sphere of influence, generally taking place in China. What we can do is spread the word and make sure people know how to spot a fake, and more importantly - avoid buying them in the first place.

Here are some common features of counterfeit guitars and the places that sell them:

  • Foreign websites selling branded guitars for less than the standard retail price should be treated with suspicion.
  • Many counterfeits are sold on sites like eBay. If you find a bargain it is recommended that you ask for detailed photos of the guitar to ascertain its legitimacy.
  • Look for stamps such as 'Made In The USA' on the guitar headstock which may be printed off centre, look off colour or of inferior quality.
  • Look closely at the logo and compare it with photos of photos from the manufacturers website. The real thing is manufactured to very specific standards. If the logo or any other markings are even slightly out of place or misaligned it could indicate a fake. Likewise, if the logo appears stretched, distorted or has a fatter (or thinner font) that is also a good sign that it could be fake.

  • If you are able to see the guitar in person, play it. Take note of the weight and the sound. If it sounds tinny chances are it's fake. If it feels too light, it is probably fake. This is due to the lower quality wood that is used to cut costs.
  • Many guitars come with a hard case or bag as standard. Check to see if the one you are looking comes with one. If not, yet it does from other retailers then it may be a fake
  • Look for 'Authorized Dealer' logos on the website of the retailer. Most authorised dealers will proudly feature the logos of the manufacturers they stock.
  • Fender guitars generally feature a serial number on the headstock. You can check the number on the Fender website which will give you the date of manufacture.
  • Gibson serial numbers are embossed and can be found on the wood at the back of headstock. As with Fender, serial numbers can be checked on Gibson's website.

As the age old saying goes: If it looks too good to be true then it probably is. Do your research before buying from a website that you aren't familiar with. If they are selling fakes then someone else will have probably mentioned it somewhere already. If you can't find any feedback good or bad about a retailer then it may be wise to err on the side of caution.

If you buy from a well known retailer with a proven track record such as Strings Direct then you really can't go wrong. Plus, in the unlikely event that the guitar is faulty or you are not happy with it you will be fully covered by guarantees, returns and refund policy and all that other good stuff you expect as a consumer.

Tuesday, 6 May 2014

Fans (And Bands) Behaving Badly

There is a kind of sick, cringe-worthy joy to be found in watching others fail and make fools of themselves. Whether it's bands or fans, there's plenty of that to be found in live music. In this post we will take you on a journey through live music mishaps, drunken anger and barefaced assault.

We of course don't condone violence, and must warn you some of these videos contain strong language!

Nickelback Booed Off Stage In Portugal

Nickelback decide to go home after having rocks thrown at them at a metal festival in Portugal.

Guns 'n' Roses Booed Off Stage In Ireland

The band receives a hostile reception in Ireland after appearing late with no apology from front man, Axl.

Ashley Simpson Booed At Orange Bowl

Fans are less than impressed by Ashley Simpsons energetic performance at Orange Bowl halftime performance.

Nine Inch Nails Halt Performance Of 'Hurt'

Nine Inch Nails abort their song 'Hurt' after receiving some critical feedback from a member of the audience. Lead singer Trent appears to be quite hurt by the comment, and the band switches to a more upbeat track. Watch out for the keyboard falling over with perfect comedic timing.

Brendon Urie Of Panic! At The Disco Knocked Out At Reading 2006

Lead Singer Of Panic! At The Disco is knocked out by a bottle thrown at Reading Festival in 2006. Their performance resumed after Brendon was checked over by paramedics.

My Chemical Romance Dodging bottles at Download 2007

I was there for this one, and never have I seen so many airborne bottles. To the bands credit, I think they managed to avoid every single one! Their determination was quite impressive.

Axl Rose Takes Matters Into His Own Hands

Axl interrupts the show to tell a member of tha audience with a camera to stop shooting. He urges security to take action before leaping into the crowd himself to take matters into his own hands. After delivering justice he climbs back onto the stage and storms off with the rest of the band.

Noel Gallagher Floored On Stage

Noel Gallagher is pushed over by an over enthusiastic fan at an Oasis gig.