This is much much heavier than anything he has done with Nirvana, the Foos, or QOTSA, so be prepared for an aural assault if you’ve never listened to underground metal, doom metal, or similarly sense-pounding metal genres.
I love to read guitarist biographies/memoirs – for inspiration, for insight, for amusement, or just to enjoy a good yarn. Some of my favorites to date include Andy Summers’ excellent “One Train Later” and Yngwie J. Malmsteen’s “Relentess“.
Today’s eye candy comes courtesy of Poland’s Mayones guitar’s custom shop. The body of this beauty features a Cocobolo top on a Mahogany Sapele back, with a 5 piece neck made of Wenge and Purpleheart. Oooo… yummy!
I especially love the way they craft the neck joins on these. So sleek!
I’m currently reading an unofficial biography of Foo Fighter‘s frontman Dave Grohl. As often happens when I read musician biographies, I’ll end up combing through a number of their influences and checking them out on Spotify.
Which brings me to Frank Zappa. I’ve of course been aware of some of Frank Zappa’s work for a long time, having bought several of his albums many moons ago during my teens (including the excellent Hot Rats, Over-Nite Sensation, and Apostrophe, among others).
Today’s guitar eye candy comes courtesy of The Golden Era Guitar shop from Singapore. This gorgeous one-of-a-kind OM-style acoustic was hand built by expert luthier Gage Halland.
When I was in Singapore recently, I had the chance to see and play this beauty in person and can attest to the absolutely impeccable quality of the workmanship. And it sounds amazing – extremely rich and resonant tone with a lot of “body” and clarity.
East Indian rosewood back and sides and Sitka Spruce top with a stylish cutaway that is a cross between Florentine and Venetian.
If you are new to recording to vocals, you might find that the bare “dry” track once recorded, doesn’t automatically seem to blend in with the rest of mix. Whereas drums, bass and guitars seem easier to get sitting well together, vocals tend to float on top and seem disconnected with the other tracks.
I’ve found the 3 tips on this article a great starting point to help a vocal track to both “sit” nicely in the mix AND get a wide “pro” sound. In a nutshell, you add stereo pitch shifting, some 1/8 note delays and finally some chorus effect. How much of each is up to your ears to decide.
The linked article provides specific steps for doing this in Logic Pro X, but the concepts could easily be used in other DAWs as well, such as Cubase, Pro Tools and so on.
Further to that I like to add some reverb for a little depth – again this helps to give the aural illusion of pulling the vocal “backwards” into the mix, so it doesn’t seem like it’s just sitting on top of everything else. How much reverb is a matter of taste of course and the type of feel you are going for with your track.
I’m currently reading “Relentless”, the memoir of Yngwie J. Malmsteen, father of neoclassical metal shred guitar, and that has me digging back through some of his earliest recordings. Which leads to the 80s hair metal band Steeler – which Malmsteen joined when he moved to the US from Sweden as a 19 year old guitar wunderkind – and their 1983 debut album simply called “Steeler”.
Surprisingly, I find the music actually rather good! Malmsteen’s playing (both rhythm and lead) is of course excellent, even though he was at stated above, only 19 at the time. Most of the jaw dropping guitar pyrotechnics he is well-known for today, were already on full display back then, as was his brilliant phrasing, vibrato and note choice.
But the rest of the band, especially singer Ron Keel, put in strong performances as well and the song writing, at least for the hair metal style of that era, is very very good.
My favorite track is probably the 6 minute long stairway-to-heaven inspired “Serenade” which closes out the 9 song album. Apart from Malmsteen’s absolutely soaring lead lines, Ron Keel really shows his range and powerful voice on that moody minor key epic rock ballad as well.
Here is my cover of Joe Satriani’s “Ten Words” from his album Super Colossal. It’s one of his easier tunes to play, as far as not having any extreme guitar pyrotechnics involved, but nonetheless, I really love this song as it’s just such a sweet melody line.
I played all the lead parts in a single take, but did not create the backing track. You can get the backing track I used from this link.
Hope you like it, and I hope I did this beautiful mid-tempo rock ballad justice!
*** GEAR USED ***
Suhr Classic Pro
Kemper Profling Amp
Focusrite Scarlett 6i6
Logic Pro X
iPhone 6s Plus
In an early May 2018 interview, rock guitar legend Ritchie Blackmore (Deep Purple, Rainbow) made some comments about guitar wizard Joe Satriani that really are somewhat less than complimentary. I won’t repeat the whole thing here as the interview is linked below and you can listen to it yourself.
But basically after saying that Satch is a “brilliant guitar player”, he goes on to make the declaration that Satch plays it too safe (code words for “no feel”) and that “worries” Blackmore. He says he never hears Satch “searching for notes” and playing “wrong notes” – he always plays the right notes, going so far as to say “something is wrong” with Satch’s “playing from the head” versus from the heart approach.
Well in my humble opinion Blackmore, great player and composer no doubt, is WRONG about Satch.
Yes Satch is technically almost always perfect and polished, but that’s his style and the result of the fact that he has mastered the instrument in the ways that he wants to play. He could intentionally sound sloppy (to sound like a “feel” player as per Blackmore) if he wanted to, but that’s not his normal way of playing.
That said, take a listen to the outro solo on Revelation from Professor Satchafunkalis and the Musterion of Rock. You can definitely hear Satch on there searching for notes, almost veering out of control at places, gloriously so at times, producing a wonderful blend of safe melodicism and verging on chaos exuberance.
Or listen to Andalusia from the same album for more examples of Satch in “search of notes”.
Sorry Ritchie Blackmore, it is your opinion of course, but you are wrong – you probably haven’t heard enough of Joe’s catalog of music to make the statements you did.