Embrace your inner rock star!

Ritchie Blackmore is WRONG about Joe Satriani

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.


The Wizard of Shred

I came across The Wizard of Shred recently, which despite the slightly cheesy name, turns out to be a site with really really good info.

The owner is Claus Levin, who has a popular YouTube channel and several paid and free guitar courses available. I really like his way of breaking down challenges into bite sized manageable chunks and providing detailed steps to conquer those challenges, whether it’s alternate picking, sweeping, legato or anything else you want to achieve on the instrument.

Unfortunately it appears that he stopped updating this site as of Nov 2013, probably to focus his efforts more on his YT channel and other sites he runs. Nonetheless there’s still quite the treasure trove of insights to be found on The Wizard of Shred. Do check it out!


Eye Candy: Eric Johnson’s 1962 Sunburst Fender Stratocaster

Oooo…. this sort of thing surely doesn’t come along too often. We have up for sale a 1962 Fender Stratocaster that was apparently at one time owned and played by Eric Johnson. Of course, it doesn’t come cheap but collectors will know the value of this Sunburst beauty.

Suitably road worn and scarred of course. Even if it wasn’t owned by Eric previously, it’s still a 1962 Strat! Gorgeous!

Looks pretty legit judging from this picture below:

As of time of writing, this is apparently still available for immediate purchase (for just south of $80K no less) on reverb.com.


Andy Wood’s The Hardest Goodbye Backing Track

A guitar backing track I recorded for Andy Wood’s gorgeous guitar instrumental ballad The Hardest Goodbye from his album Caught Between the Truth and a Lie.

Rhythm guitar, bass and drums only (no lead guitar). Done in the original key of Gm/Bmaj and tempo of 48 bpm, pretty much exactly as on the record.

If you record yourself jamming over this track, please post it in the comments, I’d love to hear what you come up with! This is a great track to improvise over, even if you don’t want to cover it exactly as Andy played it on his album.

Have fun!

*** GEAR USED ***

Suhr Classic Pro
Ibanez SGR Electric Bass

Programmed in Logic Pro X

Kemper Profling Amp

Focusrite Scarlett 6i6
Logic Pro X


How To Get Better at Figuring Out Guitar Solos By Ear

What is the best way to improve your ability to figure out guitar solos by ear?

    1. Use a slow downer app, such as Transcribe (available on Windows and Mac, but not IOS), or Anytune (available on Mac and IOS). I own both and use them all the time. Transcribe has the added feature of being able to slow down video as well, which is super helpful in cases where you have a video of the guitarist playing the solo (Anytune can slow down the audio portion of the video but won’t show you the actual video playing in slowmo whereas Transcribe will give the audio with the video).
    2. Learn your major, minor and major pentatonic and minor pentatonic scales all over the neck, in all the common keys. You don’t have to memorise them all just yet. Google for scale diagrams for each of the above mentioned and keep the diagrams somewhere handy. When tackling a song, know that most pop and rock music is in one key for the entire song. So once you figure out the key, you have a pretty good idea that most of the solo is probably taking notes from one of those aforementioned scales. Since you have the scale diagrams handy, you won’t have to aimlessly peck at each note on the neck trying to find one that matches the solo – you will realize that the solo probably follows certain predictable patterns that correspond to the scale the guitarist is using.
    3. There are deviations from #2 but that will get you there for probably at least 80% of the cases. Now Jazz solos are a whole other story, but I am guessing you are asking more from a rock and pop angle.

Ultimately, the more you do it, the better your ear will become. You will surprise yourself what you can figure out with time, especially with the help of the slow downer apps!


Eye Candy: Fender Custom Shop Pinball Wizard Tele & Amp

Pinball and Telecaster fans, fire up your engines for today’s guitar eye candy!

The $80K price tag on this custom shop Tele means it’s purely collector’s only territory. The body it seems was built from plywood taken from a genuine 40-year old Bally® pinball machine. Talk about attention to detail!

Comes in a set with a matching amp:

Available at time of writing on Reverb.com


Backing Track: Sunshine of Your Love – Hard Rock Style

Sunshine of Your Love by Cream is one of the first songs that I learned to play on guitar way back in the day. So I thought it’d be fun to do a backing track for this in more of heavy/hard rock style.

This is bass and drums only (no guitar or vocals) and done in the key of E (not D like the original recording) to give it extra heavy goodness!

If you record yourself jamming over this track, please post it in the comments, I’d love to hear what you come up with!

Have fun!

*** GEAR USED ***

Ibanez SGR Electric Bass

Kemper Profling Amp

Focusrite Scarlett 6i6
Logic Pro X


Eye Candy: 2010 Alembic Little Darling – Buckeye Burl Maple Top

Today’s guitar eye candy is this stunning Alembic “Little Darling” from 2010. I personally gravitate towards the more standard “S” style shaped guitars for the instruments that I actually own and play regularly. But my word, I have to say this piece is truly gorgeous:

The buckeye burl maple top features incredible textures and the unique body shape invokes thoughts of Lord of the Rings mystical power mumbo jumbo. OK, I’m rambling now… Let’s look at the back…

Ebony fretboard with Mother of Pearl oval inlays and a “Darling” heart inlay at the 12th fret.

On Reverb.com for $8K.


How to IMPROVE on your instrument with limited practice time

If you are a weekend warrior guitar player like me, you probably don’t have much time to play your instrument (guitar, piano, saxophone, whatever it might be), let alone to PRACTICE. Now playing and practicing are 2 different things, but that’s a topic for another post.

So with limited available time with your instrument (let’s say just a few hours a week on the whole) how can you still hope to make constant improvements?

In my experience, when faced with limited time, you will make more progress by dividing time with your instrument into lots of smaller chunks rather than just 1 or 2 big blocks.

For instance, rather than just playing/practicing for the whole afternoon on Sunday and then not touching the instrument again till the following weekend, it would be far better to spend just a little time each day (maybe 15-20 minutes) throughout the week, and forego the big Sunday session.

You will have to re-organize somethings in your life to make just a little time each day (or every other day for a start). And in return, you do on that Sunday afternoon those other little things that you put aside on the weekdays so you could have just a little regular time for your instrument.

Constant “touch” with your instrument, even in small chunks, is better than extended time in one block with large gaps in between where you don’t play at all.

A simple analogy (not perfect but you will get the idea) is exercise: Doing something a little a day, say a 15 minute walk each day, is obviously better than going for a 2 hour walk once a week and lying in bed the rest of the time! Same sort of idea. When you keep in constant touch with your instrument, you brain and body naturally figure out ways to get comfortable (and better) at it.


Eye Candy: Gibson L-5 Stained Glass Custom Acoustic Guitar

Today’s guitar eye candy comes courtesy of Gibson, which yesterday filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection (hee!). Just feast your eyes on this amazing work of art out of their Nashville custom shop:

The guitar features a Sitka spruce top, and fretboard and bridge made from Brazilian rosewood.

Only ahem… $40K for this beauty on Reverb.com. Hurry, deals like this won’t last long!