Embrace your inner rock star!

On Today’s Playlist: No Boundaries by Michael Angelo Batio

Lately, I’ve been on a shred quest! And who better to stoke the shred fires than the incomparable Michael Angelo Batio?!! Spinning up his 1995 debut solo album “No Boundaries” today and it still sounds as fresh and impressive as it did back in the day when it first came out.

I’d forgotten how diverse that album actually is. Although there’s no shortage of absolutely terrifyingly precise and fast shred licks, there’s ALSO tons of tasteful melody, bluesy riffs, and even acoustic lines!

Give it a listen:

Still one of MAB’s best works, after almost 25 years since its release

For Sale: Yamaha LL6 Acoustic Guitar

UPDATE: Yamaha LL6 has been SOLD!

Have decided to put my beloved Yamaha LL6 acoustic guitar on the market.

At time of writing, I’ve had this guitar for about 5 years and the sound has really opened up nicely now.

The LL6 is from Yamaha’s line of fine handcrafted acoustics, and features a solid sitka spruce top, East Indian rosewood back and sides (laminated), mahoney neck, ebony fingerboard and bridge, and gold plated machine heads.

I’ve had this lovely piece upgraded with a bone saddle and bone nut, and action has been expertly set up by master luthier Trevor Binford – low enough to play like butter but not too low so you can dig in for aggressive strumming with no buzz at all.

Here are a few short sound clips demonstrating this gorgeous sounding guitar:

If you live in or around Auckland, New Zealand, and would like to test out this Yamaha for yourself, leave a comment with your mobile number or email address and I will get back to you to arrange for a viewing. All comments are moderated so your contact details will not be publicly visible.

On Today’s Playlist: Probot

I’ve just completed reading “This is a Call – The Life and Times of Dave Grohl“, which has led me to go through Grohl’s discography. Which leads in turn to one of his (many) one-off side projects, this one called “Probot”.

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.

Enjoy!

60 Must-Read Guitarist Biographies

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 I came across a cool listing of 60 Must-read Guitarist’s Biographies. This will keep me busy for a good little while!

Eye Candy: Mayones Duvell Elite Cocobolo / Wenge-Purpleheart

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!

Mayones Duvell Elite Cocobolo – Front

I especially love the way they craft the neck joins on these. So sleek!

Mayones Duvell Elite Cocobolo – Back

Follow this link to the Mayones Custom Shop online store.

On Today’s Playlist: Frank Zappa – You Can’t Do That On Stage Anymore Vol. 3

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).

But Frank has such a HUGE body of work, it seems there’s always more to discover.

So today on my playlist is Frank’s live album – You Can’t Do That On Stage Anymore Vol. 3. Check it out!

Eye Candy: OM Style Acoustic Guitar Hand Built by Gage Halland

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.

Halland OM-Cutaway Back View

East Indian rosewood back and sides and Sitka Spruce top with a stylish cutaway that is a cross between Florentine and Venetian.

This is listed currently on Reverb.com for US$10.5K.

Secret to Getting Vocals to Sit in the Mix with a Wide Sound

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.

 

Starry Night (Joe Satriani) – Lead Guitar Cover

Here is my cover of Joe Satriani’s “Starry Night” instrumental from his album Strange Beautiful Music.

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 the Guitar Jam Tracks channel.

Hope you like it!

*** GEAR USED ***

GUITARS:
Suhr Classic Pro

AMP:
Kemper Profling Amp

RECORDING:
Focusrite Scarlett 6i6
Logic Pro X
iPhone 6s Plus

 

Blast From The Past – Steeler Featuring Yngwie Malmsteen

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”.

Steeler hair metal band from the 80s

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.

Check it on Spotify here.

And look out for a review at a later date of Malmsteen’s memoir (when I am done reading it that is!).