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Recording Tips

Thursday 16th June 2011 Recording

Thanks for all the nice comments about all the great guitar tones we manage to capture here in the Jamtrackcentral studio. We want to share our techniques for recording guitar and help you with your recording. Let's make it nice and straightforward, just simple stuff we can all do in the studio or at home. Right ho, let's kick off with a question. Does your guitar and amp sound good to you in the room? If it sounds horrible, it will be a waste of time to capture that and think you can "sort it out" later. Take time to listen and play around with the settings of your amp and guitar. One great tip - if your tone is a bit too bright and distorted, turn down the volume on your guitar. As long as it's not fitted with a treble bleed, this will reduce the gain at while giving you a warmer tone without sacrificing the fatness from your amp. Turning up the amp volume can sometimes significantly improve the overall tone but can be too loud for home it's a good idea to invest in something like a Marshall Powerbrake to reduce that high volume. This is a device that you place between your amp and your cab. It "soaks" up the output from your amp without damaging it. We have one here in the studio and use it all the time so we can crank up those amps to get that fatter tone.

If you have a low wattage amp of a decent quality, try using that instead of a 100 watt beast. The majority of smaller amps tend to sound rather good in a recording situation. We are fortunate to have an original 1966 Fender Princeton, which is a beautiful recording amp. (It has a silver face but the guts are the same as a Blackface). Guthrie used it for the entire Melodic series 1. It also accepts pedals most graciously! OK, now you have a tone that you like, so let's look at how to mic it up. Here in our studio we generally have two microphones permanently positioned on the cab. One is the trusty old Shure SM57 and the other is a Shiny Box 46MXL ribbon mic. They are both very close to the speaker and we generally use only one at a time although we do sometimes blend them for different sounds. The photos will show their positioning better than describing it in words.  

You will notice that the amp is not in the same room as the cab. We keep the amp in the control room with us so that we can alter the amp tone more easily. We connect whichever amp we are using to the Marshall Power Brake and then we run a cable from the Power Brake to the speaker cabinet, which is in the live room. This is nearly always a Cornford 1 X 12 open backed Cab loaded with a Celestion Vintage 30. The mics are connected to the preamps of our Soundtracs Jade Console (very nice!). We do have some other outboard preamps but we like the ones in the desk - and it's convenient too! We check the preamp gain to make sure that we are getting a good signal without it being too hot! Listening to each mic in turn individually whilst playing along with the track, it will be clear which one is better for the job. As a rough guide, if the tone is quite overdriven then the SM57 seems to work better. If it's a clean tone, the ribbon mic usually outshines with its open sound and fullness. TIP - if you are on a limited budget, the SM57 will always deliver very good results for any sound. Saying that, the shiny box Ribbon mic is only 300 UK pounds, which is astounding for such a high spec. We should do their If the guitar sound is quite dynamic so that the sound level varies too much, we will add a compressor to the chain via the patchbay of the Jade desk to smooth out the peaks and troughs. We have a Manley Variable Mu, which does the job exceptionally well. It's got that great quality of compressing the sound without you noticing. Lovely! If you are not sure at home, record it without compressing and deal with it later. Just make sure that you don't overload the signal at this stage, especially digitally. Digital overload is particularly nasty so please be careful. At this stage we don't use EQ.

Once the guitar is recorded, we process it with some equalization if necessary, compression if necessary and spatial enhancers such as reverb and delay. EQ - We add fullness in the low frequencies (100Hz to 500Hz), remove harshness in the midrange (800Hz to 3Khz) and add clarity to the high frequencies (2Khz to 6Khz). Sweep around to find the sweet spots to boost and the nasty spots to dip. We use the EQ on the mixing desk for this task. COMPRESSION - This keeps the sound tight and steady. Don't over-compress, as this will make the sound too small. We use UAD or Waves plug-ins and the Jade console compressors. Play around until itsounds right. The UAD Fairchild compressor...

Waves Renaissance Compressor... 

REVERB: Add some decent room reverb to give the sound a sense of place and some delay to give the feeling of distance without pushing the original sound too far into the background. We use an Ensoniq DP4 for this. It sounds great, although a bit noisy, but you can pick these units up for next to nothing. You get four effects independently accessible in one box. Cool!

Once the solo is sitting well in the mix (or over the backing track), we usually compress the whole mix to help it to gel together. We patch the Manley Variable Mu into the stereo buss inserts and reduce the gain by about 4dB with a medium attack and slow release. We make these settings by ear until it sounds about right. We might also EQ the mix a little, just to give it a bit of extra polish. For this we would use our Manleymassive Passive. This would be inserted after the Variable Mu.

The mix is then recorded onto our Tascam DV-RA1000HD... From there, we transfer the recorded file via USB back into the Apple Mac and master it with a good old dollop of Digital limiting via the UAD Precision Limiter. We try and get about 6 db of limiting to make it as loud as a commercial release...

 And that's it. All done and ready for the site! We hope that this is useful to you. We'll keep updating this section as we come up with more and better ideas. Happy recording! Oh yes, here are a few of our favourite amps, guitars and pieces of kit that have played a major role in creating our products. Sequis Motherload speaker emulation... 

Selmer Treble 'n' Bass...

Cornford Roadhouse 30 watt Head...

Laney GH50L 50 watt head...

Marshall JCM800 100 watt head...

Cornford MK 50 head..

1966 Gibson 335, 1990 Japanese Fender Strat, Gibson Les Paul, 1969 Fender Thinline...

 

Jan Cyrka at Jamtrackcentral Oct 2009

Recording Tips

Thursday 16th June 2011 Recording

Thanks for all the nice comments about all the great guitar tones we manage to capture here in the Jamtrackcentral studio. We want to share our techniques for recording guitar and help you with your recording. Let's make it nice and straightforward, just simple stuff we can all do in the studio or at home. Right ho, let's kick off with a question. Does your guitar and amp sound good to you in the room? If it sounds horrible, it will be a waste of time to capture that and think you can "sort it out" later. Take time to listen and play around with the settings of your amp and guitar. One great tip - if your tone is a bit too bright and distorted, turn down the volume on your guitar. As long as it's not fitted with a treble bleed, this will reduce the gain at while giving you a warmer tone without sacrificing the fatness from your amp. Turning up the amp volume can sometimes significantly improve the overall tone but can be too loud for home it's a good idea to invest in something like a Marshall Powerbrake to reduce that high volume. This is a device that you place between your amp and your cab. It "soaks" up the output from your amp without damaging it. We have one here in the studio and use it all the time so we can crank up those amps to get that fatter tone.

If you have a low wattage amp of a decent quality, try using that instead of a 100 watt beast. The majority of smaller amps tend to sound rather good in a recording situation. We are fortunate to have an original 1966 Fender Princeton, which is a beautiful recording amp. (It has a silver face but the guts are the same as a Blackface). Guthrie used it for the entire Melodic series 1. It also accepts pedals most graciously! OK, now you have a tone that you like, so let's look at how to mic it up. Here in our studio we generally have two microphones permanently positioned on the cab. One is the trusty old Shure SM57 and the other is a Shiny Box 46MXL ribbon mic. They are both very close to the speaker and we generally use only one at a time although we do sometimes blend them for different sounds. The photos will show their positioning better than describing it in words.  

You will notice that the amp is not in the same room as the cab. We keep the amp in the control room with us so that we can alter the amp tone more easily. We connect whichever amp we are using to the Marshall Power Brake and then we run a cable from the Power Brake to the speaker cabinet, which is in the live room. This is nearly always a Cornford 1 X 12 open backed Cab loaded with a Celestion Vintage 30. The mics are connected to the preamps of our Soundtracs Jade Console (very nice!). We do have some other outboard preamps but we like the ones in the desk - and it's convenient too! We check the preamp gain to make sure that we are getting a good signal without it being too hot! Listening to each mic in turn individually whilst playing along with the track, it will be clear which one is better for the job. As a rough guide, if the tone is quite overdriven then the SM57 seems to work better. If it's a clean tone, the ribbon mic usually outshines with its open sound and fullness. TIP - if you are on a limited budget, the SM57 will always deliver very good results for any sound. Saying that, the shiny box Ribbon mic is only 300 UK pounds, which is astounding for such a high spec. We should do their If the guitar sound is quite dynamic so that the sound level varies too much, we will add a compressor to the chain via the patchbay of the Jade desk to smooth out the peaks and troughs. We have a Manley Variable Mu, which does the job exceptionally well. It's got that great quality of compressing the sound without you noticing. Lovely! If you are not sure at home, record it without compressing and deal with it later. Just make sure that you don't overload the signal at this stage, especially digitally. Digital overload is particularly nasty so please be careful. At this stage we don't use EQ.

Once the guitar is recorded, we process it with some equalization if necessary, compression if necessary and spatial enhancers such as reverb and delay. EQ - We add fullness in the low frequencies (100Hz to 500Hz), remove harshness in the midrange (800Hz to 3Khz) and add clarity to the high frequencies (2Khz to 6Khz). Sweep around to find the sweet spots to boost and the nasty spots to dip. We use the EQ on the mixing desk for this task. COMPRESSION - This keeps the sound tight and steady. Don't over-compress, as this will make the sound too small. We use UAD or Waves plug-ins and the Jade console compressors. Play around until itsounds right. The UAD Fairchild compressor...

Waves Renaissance Compressor... 

REVERB: Add some decent room reverb to give the sound a sense of place and some delay to give the feeling of distance without pushing the original sound too far into the background. We use an Ensoniq DP4 for this. It sounds great, although a bit noisy, but you can pick these units up for next to nothing. You get four effects independently accessible in one box. Cool!

Once the solo is sitting well in the mix (or over the backing track), we usually compress the whole mix to help it to gel together. We patch the Manley Variable Mu into the stereo buss inserts and reduce the gain by about 4dB with a medium attack and slow release. We make these settings by ear until it sounds about right. We might also EQ the mix a little, just to give it a bit of extra polish. For this we would use our Manleymassive Passive. This would be inserted after the Variable Mu.

The mix is then recorded onto our Tascam DV-RA1000HD... From there, we transfer the recorded file via USB back into the Apple Mac and master it with a good old dollop of Digital limiting via the UAD Precision Limiter. We try and get about 6 db of limiting to make it as loud as a commercial release...

 And that's it. All done and ready for the site! We hope that this is useful to you. We'll keep updating this section as we come up with more and better ideas. Happy recording! Oh yes, here are a few of our favourite amps, guitars and pieces of kit that have played a major role in creating our products. Sequis Motherload speaker emulation... 

Selmer Treble 'n' Bass...

Cornford Roadhouse 30 watt Head...

Laney GH50L 50 watt head...

Marshall JCM800 100 watt head...

Cornford MK 50 head..

1966 Gibson 335, 1990 Japanese Fender Strat, Gibson Les Paul, 1969 Fender Thinline...

 

Jan Cyrka at Jamtrackcentral Oct 2009

Guitar Amp Recording Part 1

Tuesday 17th July 2012 Recording

Article written by Mike Senior, SOS

I love reading interviews with engineers and producers, but the more of them I read, the more I come up against the basic problem that my brain is like a sieve. I'm forever thinking to myself "I really must remember that technique", but unless I dash off and use it right away the knowledge just skips out of my ear and heads for the hills, probably glad to be free. And even if I vaguely remember reading a fascinating passage about de-essing nose-flutes, I'm damned if I can recall where I read it or who recommended it. A few months ago, I decided that enough was enough, so I began to trawl systematically through Sound On Sound's interview archive, collating and comparing different producers' views on a variety of recording and mixing topics. Being a glutton for punishment, I also waded through the 35-odd interviews in Howard Massey's excellent book, Behind The Glass.  

The first subject I concentrated on is (you guessed it) recording electric guitars. What became immediately apparent was that there was a huge range of different techniques being used, and also that there were strong differences of opinion between different professionals, which left the question 'who do I believe?' The only way I could answer that question was to put the different techniques into practice in the studio, and then A/B them to sort the sheep from the goats. Now, I'm sure that you're all sensibly busying yourselves with making music, so your lives are, frankly, too short to be sifting through more than a half a million words of interviews. Therefore, I'm going to try to digest what I've discovered during this process for the benefit of those less sad than me! I'm not about to dictate which technique is 'best', though, because if reading this many interviews has taught me anything it is that people will always disagree on what constitutes a great sound. Instead I've recorded a number of different audio examples to allow you to judge for yourselves, just as I did, which techniques are likely to make a real difference to your own productions. I've peppered this article with a number of boxes giving details of these files.  

Getting it Right at Source

About the only thing that all these producers have tended to agree on across the board is that you should try to get your guitar sound as good as you can before you even think about recording. "The stupidest thing that any musician can do," remarks Tony Platt, "is to just plug in and play and say 'make that sound good'. It doesn't work like that. I will always say to the guitar player, for instance, 'Is that sound coming out of your amplifier the sound you want to hear? If it isn't, show me what it is and we'll try to get somewhere close to that before we even put a microphone on.' It's a waste of everybody's time to sit there tweaking stuff until somebody says 'Oh that's good.'" There is clearly a great deal that the guitarist can do for the sound by changing guitars, strings and amps, but from the perspective of the recording engineer it's also important to think about how the guitar cab is interacting with the room it's in. For example, Roy Thomas Baker (producer for Queen, T'Pau) mentions that he sometimes sets up the same guitar cab in different rooms because of the effect on the sound. Even if you're restricted to one room, a number of producers suggest trying out different positions of the amp in the room. Tony Visconti (producer T-Rex, David Bowie, Iggy Pop): "It's not so much that you're miking a guitar — you're miking a guitar in a room. I had a cellist in here recently, and I moved her until I got a good sound. Once I put her in one particular corner, her cello just sang — the room just filled up with the low end, and the sound exploded!

A person who hasn't had years of experience might not have thought of doing that, but I could tell there was something lacking when she was in the centre of the room. That's mic technique. It's not so much the instrument; the room is very much part of the sound." One reason why the sound changes in different parts of a given room is that sound reflecting from room boundaries reaches your recording microphone later than the sound travelling directly from the amp, causing phase cancellation — in effect a series of peaks and dips in the recorded frequency response, the spacing of which is related to the delay between the direct and reflected sounds. Keith Olsen (producer Fleetwood Mac, Scorpions) suggests lifting and/or tilting the amp to minimise the effects of phase cancellation. "Leo Fender put those legs on the sides of a Fender Twin, and he did it so the guy in the orchestra could actually hear it when he was playing soft. But the other reason is that when you put a mic up against an amp tilted that way... you don't get phase-cancellation problems off the floor and wall. Let's take it one step farther. Let's lift that speaker cabinet off the floor and put it up on something that is stable enough to be able to give the speakers a platform to work from, but where... the reflected sound is going to be so far down in volume to the direct, it's of no real consequence... All these things start adding together into mic technique, stuff that you learn over years." Also using his room to advantage is Jay Graydon (producer Al Jarreau, Airplay) who talks about placing a guitar amp on his studio's drum riser for certain sounds. "The riser eliminates low-end coupling with the floor. I am looking for a sweet mid-range tone, so as to not take up too much room in the track, meaning that I do not want low-end information for solos."   The following audio examples demonstrate the impact that the choice of recording room and the position of the amp can make. All the examples were recorded with the same guitar and amp (a Fender Telecaster and Fender Twin Reverb), and were miked with the same SM57, placed directly on axis to the centre of the speaker cone and six inches from the grille.

Multi Amp Sounds

Several producers like to create larger-than-life recorded sounds by splitting the guitarist's instrument signal to several different amps, which are then recorded simultaneously. Joe Barresi (producer Queens of the Stone Age, Limp Bizkit) is a devotee of this tactic, and uses a dedicated guitar splitter box, such as the Little Labs PCP Instrument Distro or Systematic Systems Guitar Splitter, for the purpose. "In choosing the amplifiers and speakers, it's important to remember that larger speakers give a more compact, tighter sound. A tiny amp turned all the way up will give a more blown-out sound." Mike Hedges (producer The Cure, Manic Street Preachers) also uses this idea a great deal, and explains how it really comes into its own at the mix. "You've got two or three tracks of guitar: one clean, one medium — say, half-driven — and then one really driven. As the song progresses, you might use the nice clean track during the verse, as you're coming to the bridge you fade in the heavier guitar sound, then back it off a bit, into the chorus with everything full on, then back to the next verse and drop it all out. It's all done on one guitar track, so it doesn't sound like you've done 10 guitar overdubs. It has a different quality, it sounds like a live performance, but you've got real dynamics in the sounds. It's a very effective technique." On a practical note, Steve Churchyard (producer The Stranglers, The Pretenders) has this to add: "You'll want a good A/B box so that you can split the guitar feed to the two amps and obviously use the shortest [cable] run. Ideally have the amps in the control room and run the longer leads to the speakers." The first thing to say is that every model of mic sounds different, and I'm not going to try to do audio examples of all the mics mentioned in this article (if you'd like to compare how a large number of specific mics sound, check out the 3D Audio comparison CDs available at www.3daudioinc.com). However, to give an idea of the kinds of differences engineers work with, I recorded the same guitarist with five different mic types, as follows:

These are recordings made by five mics set up on axis as close as possible to each other. They were positioned at the centre of the speaker cone at a distance of around six inches from the grille. The mics were: a Shure SM57 dynamic and a larger-diaphragm Sennheiser MD421 dynamic; an AKG C414B XLS large-diaphragm condenser and a Shure KSM137 small-diaphragm condenser; and an SE Electronics R1 ribbon. Because all the mics were recorded at the same time, you can try mixing and matching them (as discussed in the article) by simply lining up the audio files in your MIDI + Audio sequencer, without serious phase-cancellation effects. These examples illustrate the range of sounds available from two common mic pairings discussed in the article: a Shure SM57 with a Sennheiser MD421 and a Shure SM57 with a large-diaphragm condenser mic (in this case the AKG C414B XLS). At the start of each audio example only the SM57 can be heard, but then the other mic fades in until, by the middle of the example, both mics are at equal level. Then the SM57 fades out during the remainder of the audio example. D112 C418 D1142+C418

Here, I recorded the same guitar cab with comparatively dark and bright mics in order to try out Steve Albini's dark/bright-mic approach. The mics in question were AKG's D112 kick-drum mic and C418 clip-on snare mic, both on axis at the centre of the speaker cone at a distance of around six inches from the grille. You can hear the range of sounds available from mixing these two mics in the third audio example, which starts with only the D112, but then fades in the C418 until, by the middle of the example, both mics are at equal level. Then the D112 fades out during the remainder of the audio example. Part 2 coming next week!

Thanks to www.soundonsound.com

Guitar Amp Recording Part 2

Tuesday 24th July 2012 Recording

Written by Mike Senior, SOS

Dynamic Mics For Electric Guitar

When it comes to recording electric guitar, Jay Graydon's (Producer - Airplay, Jarreau) views on mic choice are pretty clear: "I have tried so many dynamic mics over the years, and always come back to the Shure SM57." He's not alone: this robust, cardioid, dynamic microphone is more often mentioned in relation to electric-guitar recording than any other. Why such a strong preference? These days, force of habit has got to be part of the answer, but there is also a lot about the microphone's frequency response which suits guitar recording. For a start, the sub-200Hz response roll-off reduces low-end cabinet 'thumps', which might otherwise conflict with the kick drum and bass in the mix. This also compensates for proximity boost when the mic is used very close to the speaker cone.

However, there's also a slight 'suckout' at 300-500Hz, an area where muddiness can easily occur, and a broad 2-12kHz presence peak, which adds bite and helps the guitars cut through the rest of the track. Producers as varied as Chuck Ainlay, Mike Clink, Mike Hedges, Gil Norton, Bob Rock, Elliot Scheiner and Tony Visconti all claim to have recorded electric guitar using this mic alone, and it would probably be fair to say that it's often the first mic to come out of the locker for many more than these. Sennheiser's cardioid MD421 crops up almost as frequently in interviews, and has a wider frequency response, none of the low mid-range suckout, and an even heftier sensitivity boost upwards of 1kHz.

This microphone also has a larger diaphragm than the SM57, and the off-axis response anomalies of the larger diaphragm, in particular, give a different character to the sound. Although obviously very popular, this mic seems more often to be used in combination with other mics than on its own. The same goes for Electrovoice's RE20, which counts Steve Albini, John Fry, and especially Glenn Kolotkin amongst its friends. "I like to use RE20s on most amplifiers when they're available", says Glenn, "because the quality is great and they can take really high levels. They're very directional and they're great for rock and roll." The mic also exhibits an unusually wide and flat frequency response and is specially designed to resist proximity effect.   For a rock sound, many (though not all!) engineers will use a dynamic mic placed close to the speaker (sometimes on its own, sometimes in combination with other mics). Shure's SM57 (left), Sennheiser's MD421 (centre) and the Electrovoice RE20 (right) are popular choices for this application.

 

Condensers & Ribbons

Alan Parsons: "I always use condenser mics on a guitar amp, never dynamics — they're too telephoney. That's an unfair expression for a very good dynamic mic, but by comparison to a condenser, you're not going to get the bottom end." While this stance is more hard-line than that of most engineers, condenser mics are, of course, regularly used for recording electric guitars. However, in practice they rarely seem to be used on their own and are very often lined up alongside the trusty SM57. Large-diaphragm models are popular, with Neumann mics particularly favoured. The famous U87 studio workhorse is probably the most commonly mentioned, but it's by no means the only contender. Eddie Kramer, Steve Albini and John Leckie single out its predecessor, the U67, for example, while both of the earlier U47 models (valve and FET) receive name checks from people such as Steven Street, Glenn Kolotkin, Butch Vig and Bruce Botnick (note that U47s were marketed under both Neumann and Telefunken brand-names, but they're essentially the same mics). Neumann aren't the only game in town, though: AKG's C414B-ULS is probably joint most popular large-diaphragm model alongside the U87.

The characteristics that producers most often seem to be looking for in these mics are their extended frequency response, especially at the low end, and the slightly softer, more diffuse sound imparted by the large diaphragm. These mics also tend to boost the 5-15kHz region, but this boost is rapidly lost as you move off-axis (it is inherently difficult to design a large-diaphragm capsule with an even off-axis frequency response). Small-diaphragm condenser mics, on the other hand, tend to have flatter frequency plots and a better-behaved off-axis response, giving a sound sometimes described as more focused, but they seem to be less commonly chosen by the interviewees than large-diaphragm ones. Neumann's KM84 seems to be the most regular choice of small-diaphragm condenser, and numbers John Fry and Bill Price amongst its high-profile users, while Sennheiser's MKH40 warrants a particular mention from Mike Hedges: "I started using [these mics] when I was working with the Beautiful South. I started off with two and now have more than 20. I think they were originally designed for classical recording, because they have very high gain and very low noise. This means that you can get a very clean sound. They also accept massive amounts of volume, so you can put one against a guitar amp on full and it will take it." Hedge's concern about the ability of the microphone to handle the sheer volume of some guitar amps is echoed by several of the other producers, who make a point of mentioning that they switch in a condenser's 10dB pad when recording electric guitars.

Surprisingly, perhaps, given their reputation for fragility, ribbon mics also seem to be widely used for electric guitar, with models from Beyerdynamic, Coles, RCA and Royer all putting in appearances. Producers using ribbons include Thom Panunzio, Joe Barresi, Steve Albini, Ed Cherney, Bill Bottrell and Butch Vig — Eddie Kramer even goes as far as to say that "to me, the best guitar mic is the Beyer M160, which I've used for 30 years on Hendrix, on Zeppelin, on everybody." One trait of most ribbon mics is the figure-of-eight polar response, and this is often exceptionally consistent across the frequency range. This polar pattern means, of course, that ribbons tend to pick up a little more room ambience than cardioids, given that the polar pattern is as sensitive behind the diaphragm as it is in front. Ribbon mics are also often characterised as sounding 'smoother' compared with typical condenser microphones, partly because their construction avoids the high-frequency diaphragm resonances normally inherent in condenser designs. Popular condensers: when it comes to condenser mics for guitar-cab miking, the AKG C414 (in its various flavours — the C414 B-ULS is pictured above left) and the Neumann U87 (centre) are both popular choices. Some producers also frequently look to the U87's predecessors, the U47 valve (pictured) and FET models, and the U67.          

 

Audio Examples: Mic Placement These examples show how different mic positions can affect the tone of a recorded guitar cabinet. ConeCentre ConeEdge ConeMidway

These examples were recorded simultaneously via three on-axis SM57s, directly on the speaker grille: the first at the centre of the cone, the second at the edge, and the third midway between the two. ConeCentre0Degrees ConeCentre22Degrees ConeCentre45Degrees

Three SM57s were placed as close as possible together at the centre of the speaker cone and directly on the speaker grille. The first was on axis, the second was angled at around 22 degrees and the third at around 45 degrees. AndyJohns

Here, I have combined the on-axis and 45-degree mics to give some idea of the range of sounds available using the technique mentioned by Andy Johns. At the start of the audio example only the on-axis mic can be heard, but then the other mic fades in until, by the middle of the example, both mics are at equal level. Then the on-axis mic fades out during the remainder of the audio example. Grille 1Foot 3Feet

Here, three SM57s were placed on-axis at different distances from the centre of the speaker cone. The first was right up by the grille, the second at 12 inches, and the third three feet away.    

The speaker cone of a guitar amp will sound different when close-miked at the centre than when miked at the edge: it is worth experimenting to get the sound you want.    

The angle of the mic in relation to the speaker cone will also affect the sound

 

How far away from the speaker cabinet the mic is placed has a significant impact on the recorded sound.        

Article courtesy of Sound on Sound Magazine

Guitar Amp Recording Part 2

Tuesday 24th July 2012 Recording

Written by Mike Senior, SOS

Dynamic Mics For Electric Guitar

When it comes to recording electric guitar, Jay Graydon's (Producer - Airplay, Jarreau) views on mic choice are pretty clear: "I have tried so many dynamic mics over the years, and always come back to the Shure SM57." He's not alone: this robust, cardioid, dynamic microphone is more often mentioned in relation to electric-guitar recording than any other. Why such a strong preference? These days, force of habit has got to be part of the answer, but there is also a lot about the microphone's frequency response which suits guitar recording. For a start, the sub-200Hz response roll-off reduces low-end cabinet 'thumps', which might otherwise conflict with the kick drum and bass in the mix. This also compensates for proximity boost when the mic is used very close to the speaker cone.

However, there's also a slight 'suckout' at 300-500Hz, an area where muddiness can easily occur, and a broad 2-12kHz presence peak, which adds bite and helps the guitars cut through the rest of the track. Producers as varied as Chuck Ainlay, Mike Clink, Mike Hedges, Gil Norton, Bob Rock, Elliot Scheiner and Tony Visconti all claim to have recorded electric guitar using this mic alone, and it would probably be fair to say that it's often the first mic to come out of the locker for many more than these. Sennheiser's cardioid MD421 crops up almost as frequently in interviews, and has a wider frequency response, none of the low mid-range suckout, and an even heftier sensitivity boost upwards of 1kHz.

This microphone also has a larger diaphragm than the SM57, and the off-axis response anomalies of the larger diaphragm, in particular, give a different character to the sound. Although obviously very popular, this mic seems more often to be used in combination with other mics than on its own. The same goes for Electrovoice's RE20, which counts Steve Albini, John Fry, and especially Glenn Kolotkin amongst its friends. "I like to use RE20s on most amplifiers when they're available", says Glenn, "because the quality is great and they can take really high levels. They're very directional and they're great for rock and roll." The mic also exhibits an unusually wide and flat frequency response and is specially designed to resist proximity effect.   For a rock sound, many (though not all!) engineers will use a dynamic mic placed close to the speaker (sometimes on its own, sometimes in combination with other mics). Shure's SM57 (left), Sennheiser's MD421 (centre) and the Electrovoice RE20 (right) are popular choices for this application.

 

Condensers & Ribbons

Alan Parsons: "I always use condenser mics on a guitar amp, never dynamics — they're too telephoney. That's an unfair expression for a very good dynamic mic, but by comparison to a condenser, you're not going to get the bottom end." While this stance is more hard-line than that of most engineers, condenser mics are, of course, regularly used for recording electric guitars. However, in practice they rarely seem to be used on their own and are very often lined up alongside the trusty SM57. Large-diaphragm models are popular, with Neumann mics particularly favoured. The famous U87 studio workhorse is probably the most commonly mentioned, but it's by no means the only contender. Eddie Kramer, Steve Albini and John Leckie single out its predecessor, the U67, for example, while both of the earlier U47 models (valve and FET) receive name checks from people such as Steven Street, Glenn Kolotkin, Butch Vig and Bruce Botnick (note that U47s were marketed under both Neumann and Telefunken brand-names, but they're essentially the same mics). Neumann aren't the only game in town, though: AKG's C414B-ULS is probably joint most popular large-diaphragm model alongside the U87.

The characteristics that producers most often seem to be looking for in these mics are their extended frequency response, especially at the low end, and the slightly softer, more diffuse sound imparted by the large diaphragm. These mics also tend to boost the 5-15kHz region, but this boost is rapidly lost as you move off-axis (it is inherently difficult to design a large-diaphragm capsule with an even off-axis frequency response). Small-diaphragm condenser mics, on the other hand, tend to have flatter frequency plots and a better-behaved off-axis response, giving a sound sometimes described as more focused, but they seem to be less commonly chosen by the interviewees than large-diaphragm ones. Neumann's KM84 seems to be the most regular choice of small-diaphragm condenser, and numbers John Fry and Bill Price amongst its high-profile users, while Sennheiser's MKH40 warrants a particular mention from Mike Hedges: "I started using [these mics] when I was working with the Beautiful South. I started off with two and now have more than 20. I think they were originally designed for classical recording, because they have very high gain and very low noise. This means that you can get a very clean sound. They also accept massive amounts of volume, so you can put one against a guitar amp on full and it will take it." Hedge's concern about the ability of the microphone to handle the sheer volume of some guitar amps is echoed by several of the other producers, who make a point of mentioning that they switch in a condenser's 10dB pad when recording electric guitars.

Surprisingly, perhaps, given their reputation for fragility, ribbon mics also seem to be widely used for electric guitar, with models from Beyerdynamic, Coles, RCA and Royer all putting in appearances. Producers using ribbons include Thom Panunzio, Joe Barresi, Steve Albini, Ed Cherney, Bill Bottrell and Butch Vig — Eddie Kramer even goes as far as to say that "to me, the best guitar mic is the Beyer M160, which I've used for 30 years on Hendrix, on Zeppelin, on everybody." One trait of most ribbon mics is the figure-of-eight polar response, and this is often exceptionally consistent across the frequency range. This polar pattern means, of course, that ribbons tend to pick up a little more room ambience than cardioids, given that the polar pattern is as sensitive behind the diaphragm as it is in front. Ribbon mics are also often characterised as sounding 'smoother' compared with typical condenser microphones, partly because their construction avoids the high-frequency diaphragm resonances normally inherent in condenser designs. Popular condensers: when it comes to condenser mics for guitar-cab miking, the AKG C414 (in its various flavours — the C414 B-ULS is pictured above left) and the Neumann U87 (centre) are both popular choices. Some producers also frequently look to the U87's predecessors, the U47 valve (pictured) and FET models, and the U67.          

 

Audio Examples: Mic Placement These examples show how different mic positions can affect the tone of a recorded guitar cabinet. ConeCentre ConeEdge ConeMidway

These examples were recorded simultaneously via three on-axis SM57s, directly on the speaker grille: the first at the centre of the cone, the second at the edge, and the third midway between the two. ConeCentre0Degrees ConeCentre22Degrees ConeCentre45Degrees

Three SM57s were placed as close as possible together at the centre of the speaker cone and directly on the speaker grille. The first was on axis, the second was angled at around 22 degrees and the third at around 45 degrees. AndyJohns

Here, I have combined the on-axis and 45-degree mics to give some idea of the range of sounds available using the technique mentioned by Andy Johns. At the start of the audio example only the on-axis mic can be heard, but then the other mic fades in until, by the middle of the example, both mics are at equal level. Then the on-axis mic fades out during the remainder of the audio example. Grille 1Foot 3Feet

Here, three SM57s were placed on-axis at different distances from the centre of the speaker cone. The first was right up by the grille, the second at 12 inches, and the third three feet away.    

The speaker cone of a guitar amp will sound different when close-miked at the centre than when miked at the edge: it is worth experimenting to get the sound you want.    

The angle of the mic in relation to the speaker cone will also affect the sound

 

How far away from the speaker cabinet the mic is placed has a significant impact on the recorded sound.        

Article courtesy of Sound on Sound Magazine

Guitar Amp Recording Part 3

Monday 30th July 2012 Recording

Written by Mike Senior, SOS

Single-Mic Techniques

Even working on the assumption that you're only using one mic, the professionals have an awful lot to say about where you might put it. For a start, it seems to be fairly common practice to audition the different speaker cones of your guitar amp. "They're supposed to sound the same," says Roy Thomas Baker, "but if you're using a 4x12 cabinet, each of these four speakers may sound different." While there's nothing necessarily wrong with plonking your mic right at the centre of the speaker cone if it gets what you're after, a lot of producers take the time to experiment with different positionings off axis, where the sound is typically warmer. Mike Hedges: "Depending on where you have [the mic] — outer speaker or inner speaker — you get the difference in tone from the edge of the speaker and the centre of the cone."

 

In fact, Mike Clink also tries small changes in position even when working with basically on-axis sounds. "I'll point [the SM57] exactly dead on, though I might move it an inch or two to get the right sound." Directional mics, such as cardioids and figure-of-eights, exhibit different frequency responses off axis — broadly speaking, off-axis sounds tend to be duller, although it's a complex effect which is different for each model. Professional producers are well aware of this, and employ the effect to refine their sounds. For instance, Chuck Ainlay comments "I'll usually start with a [Shure SM57] on the amp; but not straight on axis with the middle of the speaker; it's usually off-centre, angled towards the middle of the speaker and generally just off the grille." Jay Graydon refers to a fairly similar setup: "I position the mic about one inch left of the edge of the speaker-cone centre, using a 22-degree angle, and about one inch back from the grille cloth." Andy Johns, on the other hand, has said that "the miking technique I used on electric guitars for years was two [Shure SM57s], one straight on, and one at 45 degrees. Put 'em together, and it always works." The question of how far away to place your mic really divides opinions.

 

While Chuck Ainlay's 'just off the grille' seems to express the majority view, Bill Price preferred a position six inches away on the Sex Pistols sessions, while Steve Albini usually starts from around 10-12 inches away. Alan Parsons, on the other hand, avoids close placements: "Every engineer I've ever come across has always had the mic touching the cloth, and the first thing I do is move it away literally a foot. Let's hear what the amplifier sounds like, not what the cabinet sounds like... I might have it even further away if it's a really loud 4x12 cabinet — as much as four feet away." Ben Hillier also extols the benefits of more distant placements, up to six to eight feet, when he's trying to capture his favourite 'amp in a room' sound.  All speaker cones are not created equal! Normally, if an amp or speaker cab has more than one speaker cone each will sound different, and it is worth finding out which one you prefer. You can even try recording two different cones and blending the sounds, as described above  

 

 Audio Examples: Miking Different Speaker Cones SM57Left SM57Right SM57LeftSM57Right

To compare the sound of the Fender Twin Reverb's two speakers, I placed Shure SM57s directly over the centres of the different cones, on axis and right up against the grille. This also gave me the opportunity to try out the dual-mic technique mentioned by Steve Churchyard. You can hear the range of sounds available from mixing the mics in the third audio example, which starts with the left-hand SM57, but then fades in the right-hand SM57 until, by the middle of the example, both mics are at equal level. The left-hand SM57 then fades out during the remainder of the audio example. C3000Left C3000Right C3000LeftC3000Right

Here's a stab at Tony Platt's dual-mic AC/DC technique, using two large-diaphragm condensers, about six inches apart and pointing at different speakers, placed about six inches from the grille. In the third example I have panned the mics a little left and right respectively, to demonstrate the stereo spread effect he talks about.  

Two Mics Together

One of the things that initially surprised me was that coincident dual-mic techniques, where the two mics are placed as close as possible to each other to minimise phase cancellation between them, actually appear to be more commonly used than single-mic techniques. John Leckie explains: "There's an amazing difference in the sound and colouration you get from adjusting the balance of each of the mics, and you can get radically different textures depending on your mix of the two." The majority of favoured mic pairs seem to include the trusty SM57, but its most popular partner appears to be the larger-diaphragm MD421 — users include Bob Rock, Bruce Fairbairn, Alan Winstanley, Joe Barresi, Simon Dawson, Stephen Street and The Matrix.

Also high on the list is the pairing of the SM57 with a large-diaphragm condenser of some type, and Steve Churchyard, Toni Visconti, Jim Scott, Stephen Street, and John Leckie all name-check the U87 in this role. However, John Leckie states an interesting preference for an SM58 and U67 rig instead: "SM57s tend to be that little bit brighter than the SM58, which really isn't what you want when you're miking up an electric guitar amp. You really want to pick up a flat signal, an 'unstimulated' signal I suppose is the word... The U67 gives you the warmth and a broader sound." Referring to this setup, Leckie also explains more about what makes double-miking so powerful: "If you brighten up the U67, it's totally different to brightening up the SM58, so sometimes I'll add a little brightness to the 67 and a little compression. But between that combination, I find I can get pretty much everything I need. They're rarely used at equal level; sometimes I'll favour the SM58 with the U67 at 10-15dB down. Even 20-30dB down, just bringing it in, it's amazing the different colour you get — how much the tone of the guitar changes." Coupling an SM57 with a small-diaphragm KM84 condenser finds favour with Bill Price and John Fry, while Mike Hedges chooses his favourite Sennheiser MKH40.

Bill Price also mentions the importance of finding a very close phase match between the two microphones. "What one had to do was balance those mics equally, grab a pair of headphones out in the studio that were turned up nice and loud, and fractionally position one of the mics so that they were perfectly in phase at high frequencies, because if you had one mic five inches away and the other six inches away you'd obviously get really bad phase shift that would take the top off the guitar sound." Beyond specific favoured mics, a number of engineers also mention more general principles when choosing pairs of mics for guitar recording. Jim Scott and Stephen Street both mention using a 'cheap' or 'bad' mic with a good mic (both give the SM57+U87 combination as an example). "Between the two you can find the ideal sound," remarks Jim, "and you can get brightness and fullness." Steve Albini, on the other hand, finds it useful to think in terms of blending 'bright' and 'dark' mics. "Normally I'll have two microphones on each cabinet, a dark mic and a bright mic, say a ribbon microphone and a condenser, or two different condensers with different characters." Eddie Kramer's discussion of his Hendrix sessions reveals a similar preference: "Generally speaking, it was either a U67 or a Beyerdynamic M160, or a combination of both, which I still use today. It might be slightly different, of course, but the basic principle's the same — a ribbon and a condenser."  The 'Vortex' setup described by Chris Tsangarides, is a great way to add ambience. The setup pictured above is a variation created by the author for a small studio, where one of the walls was used in place of baffles for one side of the flare.  

 

Audio Examples: Ambient Mics & The Vortex SM57Close C3000StereoAmbience SM57C3000Ambience

To illustrate the possibilities available from ambient mics, I recorded the same guitar performance with three mics simultaneously: a Shure SM57 close mic on axis to the centre of the speaker cone and up against the grille, and a stereo pair of AKG C3000 large-diaphragm condenser mics a few metres away. The third audio example illustrates the range of sounds available by mixing the close and ambient mics. The example starts with the SM57, but then the ambience mics fade in until, by the middle of the example, all mics are at equal level. The close mic then fades out during the remainder of the audio example, leaving just the ambience. VortexMic1 VortexMic2 VortexMic3 VortexMix

These examples give some idea of how Chris Tsangarides' Vortex technique can sound, even when adapted to suit a smaller room, as I've described in the main article. The guitar cabinet was set up in the corner of the room, with a single, large acoustic panel making up one side of the 'flare'. All the mics were large-diaphragm condensers: the first, an AKG C414B XLS, was on axis over the centre of the speaker cone, right up against the grille; the second, an AKG C3000, was two metres away, pointing at the cabinet; and the third, another AKG C3000, was four metres away, angled to catch the reflected sound from the control-room glass. The final audio example starts with the C414B XLS close mic on its own, then fades in the two ambience mics (panned a little left and right) until, by the middle of the example, all the mics are at equal level. The close mic then fades out during the remainder of the audio example.  

Many thanks to www.soundonsound.com for this article 

 

Guitar Amp Recording Part 4

Tuesday 7th August 2012 Recording

Written by Mike Senior, SOS

Miking Different Speaker Cones

Although a lot of engineers prefer to mic up the single, best-sounding speaker cone of a multi-speaker cab, some blend the sounds of more than one. Steve Churchyard: "If I'm using a 4x12 cabinet, I find two of the best-sounding speakers, and I'll put an SM57 right on axis and right on the cone of both those guys. Then I'll mix them in the control room, combine the two together. It seems a little different than just using one mic. It's not twice as good, but it's just mixing the character of two different speakers." While recording AC/DC's Back In Black, Tony Platt used a pair of condenser mics to pick up different speaker cones and give a wider sound to each guitar: "I developed a technique for recording guitars with two microphones roughly pointing at different speakers, which can be spread out in the stereo mix so it's not just a series of mono point sources. It makes for a more open-sounding guitar. That sound suited their particular technique, which involved Angus and Malcolm playing the same chords but with different inversions to get a very big unison guitar sound." Hugh Padgham adopted a similar tactic for recording Andy Summers' Roland JC120 when working with the Police: "The chorus [was] always switched on in order to produce the slightly out-of-tune guitar sound that was all the rage during the early '80s. The amp's two 12-inch speakers would each be close-miked with a Sennheiser MD421, panned left and right — one speaker would produce a straight signal while the other would be chorused, and these would sometimes be double-tracked the other way around in order to produce an especially wide stereo picture." Of course, no-one says you have to use the same mic on each speaker cone. For example the SOS interview with Toby Wright shows an SM57 and an MD421 on separate speakers, and Don Smith mentioned using an SM57 and an AKG C451 on separate speakers when recording Keith Richards. Sylvia Massy Shivy also uses the SM57+MD421 combination, but sounds a note of caution when deciding on the exact positioning of the mics: "You have to be very careful with phase, just check it until the signal is the strongest."

Coincident dual-mic techniques are commonly used by professional recording engineers and producers. Not only does the close positioning of the mics help to minimise problems with phase: the mix engineer is also left with plenty of control over the texture of the sound without the need for radical processing.

 

The 'phase EQ' technique: three mics (two close mics and another further from the amp) are positioned to form a triangle. The faders on the desk (or in the DAW) can then be raised or lowered for each signal. This alters the phase relationship between them and provides an interesting and, according to some producers, less intrusive alternative to conventional EQ. SM57Moving KSM137Stationary SM57KSM137Phasing

In response to Bill Price's comments about matching the phase of different close mics, I lined up a Shure SM57 dynamic mic and a small-diaphragm Shure KSM137 condenser mic on axis, over the centre of the speaker cone. With the KSM137 around six inches away from the grille, I started off with the SM57 an inch further away and then moved it (while recording) through a distance of around two inches, ending up with it an inch closer to the grille than the KSM137. The third audio example combines the SM57 and KSM137 mic signals at equal levels to demonstrate the tonal changes created by phase-cancellation between the two mics. PhaseEQSM57 PhaseEQMD421 PhaseEQC414BXLS PhaseEQCombinations

The first three audio examples here are recordings from three mics set up in the 'phase EQ' configuration that Jack Douglas describes in the main article. For the final example I've tried to demonstrate something of the range of sounds available using only the fader and phase-invert button of each mic channel.

Adding Ambient Mics

"I've always thought that most people mic amps too closely," comments Alan Parsons. "They supposedly make up with an ambient mic, but I much prefer to find a mic position that works and process that, rather than mix in too much ambience." Despite Parsons' disapproval, though, a lot of the engineers I researched divulged that they use additional ambient mics to capture more of the sound of the room in which the guitar cab was recorded. For example, Al Schmitt starts with the traditional SM57 close mic, on axis but a little off the centre of the cone. "Then I'll put a really good mic up — maybe a Neumann U67 or an M50 — for the room... It could be anywhere from 15 to 20 feet away."

It's worth noting that the M50 is an omni microphone and, although the omni polar pattern is only very occasionally mentioned for close-miking, it makes a much more sensible choice for capturing natural room ambience. Tony Visconti is also into using ambient mics: "I'm very much a fan of the room sound, too. I always record it if it's a real heavy rock guitar with power chords and crunches and all. I'll go around the room and clap my hands and I say, 'Put the mics there, that's it.' Quite often, I'll turn the room mic towards the studio window, and you'll get a reflection of the guitar sound — not directly facing it, because you're looking for reflections." Although he states in the same interview that he'll try to use a pair of U87s for ambience if possible, he's also mentioned elsewhere using PZM mics as an alternative. Perhaps the most dramatic of ambient mic techniques, though, comes courtesy of Chris Tsangarides. His 'Vortex' involves using studio screens to build 30-foot-long walls along each side of the guitar cabinet, creating a flare shape (apparently inspired by the shape of a bass bin). Within this flare, he places a close condenser mic and typically another couple of condenser mics with different distant positionings, perhaps at 15 and 30 feet away. "I walk around while the guy's playing and find a sweet spot and put the mic there", says Chris. By panning the distant mics to the opposite side of the mix from the close mic, you can create interesting panning effects for solos. "If it's a rhythm part, you get this huge sound because the whole thing is spread across the stereo spectrum."

When double-tracking lead or rhythm parts, a useful trick is to reverse the panning of the direct and distant mics. "If there were two guitarists in a band, I would record them like that, so you got a wall of sound that had a transparency that would allow the drums and bass to come through." While experimenting with the Vortex for this article, I was impressed by quite how well the ambient mics seemed to turn a close-miked guitar sound into something that sounded like it was on a record, but the downside of this approach for most home recordists will be that the Vortex is not easy to recreate in a smaller studio — so I thought I'd pass on some ways I found to make it more manageable on a smaller scale. One problem most small studios have is that they don't have large numbers of screens, but in practice I found that I was able to get decent results by putting the guitar cab in the corner of the room and using one or both of the room boundaries in place of the screens. Visconti's trick of aiming ambient mics at the studio glass also turned out to be handy to increase the apparent distance of the farther ambient mic.

Combination Techniques & The Phase EQ

Let's look at how the professionals go about combining the close and ambient techniques we've looked at so far, in order to create specific custom setups for different recordings. Joe Barresi, for example, relies heavily on the trusty SM57 and MD421 combination, but he'll choose from a variety of other mics to give character to particular sounds. "The two microphones I use most for recording electric guitars are the Shure SM57 and the Sennheiser MD421, often both, close up, placed at the edge of the speaker, where the speaker centre meets the cone, or, if I'm looking for a more bright sound, dead centre. When I want more low end, I may have an AKG C414 on there, and when I'm after a little more personality, a Neumann U87, backed up a foot, or a ribbon mic, like the Royer 122, or an RCA BK5 or 77." Eddie Kramer has a slightly different approach, working from a familiar setup of favourite close and ambient mics (including the Beyerdynamic M160 ribbon mic) and then mixing them together to taste. "I use a three-mic technique: an SM57, an MD421 and an M160, all in a very tight pattern. Then I can pick and choose the tone quality, because each mic is totally different. I combine these together, and then I put a U67 away from the amp to get the ambience." For his work on Supernatural, Glenn Kolotkin turned to elaborate multi-miking as a way of managing Carlos Santana's complicated setup. "I used multiple microphones on Carlos' guitars: Electrovoice RE20s close, Neumann U47s further away, an SM56, U87s. He was playing through an assortment of amplifiers at the same time, and by using multiple microphones I was able to get just the right blend."

Complex though some of these techniques are, probably the most powerful use of multi-miking I've encountered during my investigations comes courtesy of Jack Douglas, who makes creative use of phase cancellation between microphones. "For guitar overdubs, the best EQ in the world is the phase EQ, which you get by using multiple mics on a speaker. For example, take a Shure SM57, a Sennheiser MD421 and your favourite condenser, and set them up in a triangle with the two dynamics at an angle up against the grille, but off axis. Then take your favourite condenser mic, put a 10dB pad on it, and place it about a foot away, facing the speaker, on axis. "Bring up one mic at a time and get it to optimum level on your board. To check that they're all in phase, make sure the signal is adding and not subtracting as you add in the other mics. If not... reverse the phase. Then start to put up each mic, one at a time... as you move the faders back and forth, you'll hear the greatest EQ, because of the phase relationship... Then if you flip the phase on one of the mics, you can really have some fun — it'll act like a filter." Having tried out this technique, I have to say that it's something of a revelation to hear the enormous range of radically different sounds it makes available. When you start inverting the phase of a mic, it sounds like the most extreme EQ you've ever heard, which means that you can substantially reinvent guitar sounds at mixdown without using any heavy processing. For even more sonic mileage, you can also take a leaf out of John Leckie's book and process each of the three mic signals independently. Jack Douglas also points out a beneficial side-effect, in his experience, of recordings made using the phase EQ approach: "When you build a mix — I don't care if it's four tracks, eight tracks, or 96 — the real nightmare is when you put something up and the only way you can hear it is by blasting it. There's nothing worse than putting up something you're excited about, and it's gone. If you [record guitars] like this, I guarantee that as soon as you put the sound in the mix it will be there. Not only that, it won't wipe out everything else in the mix, because it will have such a separate and distinct character."

Too Many Mics?

Being by nature rather sceptical, I have to admit to initially dismissing many of the recording methods in this article as 'studio snake oil', and because there was usually too little time during my own sessions to experiment with new ideas, I'd usually end up with an SM57 glued to the speaker grille by default. Taking the time out to trial the above techniques in the studio showed me quite how much I had been missing — not only much better raw recordings, but also tremendous extra flexibility at mixdown. But don't take it from me — listen to the audio examples for yourself and make up your own mind. If they don't expand your recording horizons, I'll eat my SM57...  

Many thanks to www.soundonsound.com for this article

Michael Wagner Joins JTC

Friday 21st August 2015 Recording

We're very pleased to be able to welcome Michael Wagner to the JTC family! Michael is a great guitarist and musician and you can check out his brand new JTC debut package by clicking the image below!



- The JTC Team

Five of the best Guthrie Govan covers

Thursday 6th June 2019 Blogroll

Who is the best guitarist in the world? It’s the kind of question that bedroom guitarists, music fans and even professional players ask on a regular basis. You can argue there is no right answer, but many would argue that it’s Guthrie Govan.

It would seem that no time signature, style or technique is a challenge to Guthrie, and that’s in part why he is held in such high regard. Spend any time looking for guitar videos online and you’ll find a whole heap of Guthrie solos, interviews and live performances; you’ll also find a huge selection of covers.

Some are messy, some are great and some have made our list of the best Guthrie Govan covers. Enjoy!

Nili Brosh - Larry Carlton Style Track

Dial back over ten years, and you’ll find a video of Nili Brosh playing some Guthrie at the tender age of 18. The title of the video - plus as usual with the internet, something - caused much debate.

A lot has happened since that first video went up: Obama, Trump, Brexit. More importantly, Nili has gone on to become one of the most accomplished guitarists around, landing a long term gig with Cirque du Soleil, and of course, becoming a JTC artist. We love this cover not only because of the story, but just because it’s very, very good.  

Li-sa-X - Fives

“No matter how good you get, there’s always a kid somewhere that’s better.” Said by JTC’s very own Steve Martin, and of course he’s right. When filmed, Li-sa-X was a mere 8 years old. You may find better, more accurate versions of the track out there, but for sheer jaw dropping, “oh my god”, you can’t find much more astounding than this.

JTC’s Josh Smith is one of many players that started young, and there are no doubt countless more, but to tackle such a difficult track at such an age shows not only a natural talent, but also that a hell of a lot of practice must have taken place; and for that, we clap our hands.

Matteo Mancuso - Fives

JTC Guitar co-founder, Jan Cyrka, sent this video in a round robin email to the team, and every single one of us was blown away. Matteo’s unique finger-style playing creates something that is equally astounding both sonically and visually. It would even be fair to say that Matteo probably trumps Guthrie in terms of “uniqueness”.

And that takes some doing. 

Jess Lewis - Wonderful Slippery Thing

If you’ve followed JTC Guitar since the early days, you’ll know Jess Lewis. If you haven’t, then watch this video. What you get with this cover is a finesse and feel all of its own.

The meandering track is played to perfection, so much so that the video has racked up well over a million views and counting. A classic cover for the digital age.

Jack Thammarat Band - Fives (Yes again!)

We thought it best to end where we began, with another JTC artist having fun. While there may be tighter more faithful covers out there, what we like about this take is that it sums up the “spirit of Guthrie”.

Tangential, shifting and heavily improvised, this cover from the Jack Thammarat Band clocks in at over 8 minutes, and is a joy to watch. You do have to put up with the 2009, mobile phone recording, but when the playing is this good we can live with that. 

And as a bonus, here's the original

Way back in 2007, Guthrie Govan sat down at JTC HQ, and got jamming. So, here’s one of the original videos, that not only helped to inspire these covers, but no doubt doubt inspired thousands of people to pick up the guitar.

 

 

Luca Mantovanelli: Masterclass Q&A

Thursday 18th July 2019 Blogroll

luca mantovanelli jtc guitar behind the pack

A prolific teacher, a dedicated guitarist, and a family man. The guitarist that JTC guitarists learn from, Luca Mantovanelli.

Fusion Essentials: Advanced, is the culminating part of yet another amazing Masterclass series by Luca, and oh what a series it is.

To give you more of an insight into how he frequently creates these superb releases, and what to expect from this one, here’s the man himself.

Q: What was the inspiration behind this Masterclass?

Well, I love to play fusion and I noticed lots of people like my quick videos about it. I get a lot of questions about scales, how to play over fusion chords etc. So I decided to create a fusion Masterclass. Starting from very beginner stuff to ‘’crazy’’ advanced level. This Masterclass is built to cover step by step all the stuff I know and play over fusion chord progressions.

Q: What’s your favourite part of the series?

In all my Masterclasses I have used my own method to teach. That is my favourite part. Giving you the knowledge to create your phrasing. Not just copy and paste but a complete guide to create your own stuff. I’ve done it with all of my JTC content, starting from the Pentatonic Masterclass through to my 2-5-1 releases, and now this.

Q: What is the most important lesson from it?

In the Fusion Essentials Masterclass, I choose chord progressions from a few famous fusion standards like Summertime, Sunny’’, Cantaloupe Island’’ and Spain. These are usually the first tunes I use to teach fusion playing, and it’s funny because it's not just a backing but a real song where you can play all the things you learnt from the Masterclass.

Q: With so many great JTC products out in the world, what's your process for creating them?

Well the first step is, find out what players need. I like to watch videos from my followers to see what they like and what they need. I then choose a topic and write down all the stuff I can use and create.

Everytime I create something new I see how I can use it for myself as well! It’s not just telling you what I know, but how I use it. This lets us create brand new guitar stuff. Lets see how that works. Everytime I create a Masterclass I create a lot of things but only the most useful ideas make it into the end product.

When I finish writing down the exercises, I write the backing tracks and the licks using the exercise concepts. At the end I create the solo using a few licks to show how you can mix together all the licks. The last part is recording the videos and create video using audio and video tracks. As you can see it’s not a fast process haha!

Q: Bootcamp is in the Beta phase and you have lots of students already. How much do you enjoy that closer relationship?

Bootcamp is an amazing thing. When we started working on it (2 years ago?!) we didn’t expect this huge feedback. I like it because you can chat with your student, you can give them tips about everything; timing, sound, technique. My actual students love it is well.  Totally different from a Masterclass because we have interactions and this is great. The full launch will be very soon

Can’t wait!

Q: What’s next for you at JTC?

I have already written four different Masterclasses. But before I release them,  I will release my 1st solo album this year. I am very excited about it and I hope people will dig it!

Q: We know you’re a family man. Are your daughters picking up the guitar yet?

Yeah, I am. Full of girls! Haha.

Well my 1st daughter, Eleonora, likes all the instruments I have in my house. Guitars, drums, bass. Everytime I go into the studio she comes and says, “Dad, gimme the pick (she wants only the JTC Pick) and then I pick up my guitar. She plays the rhythm and I play the chords every day! Sometimes when I record a JTC video she comes and starts dancing, it’s funny haha. 

 

Roy Ziv: Masterclass Q&A

Wednesday 28th August 2019 Blogroll

roy ziv interview hexatonic masterclass

Some guitarists exhibit a more unique style than others, guitarists such as Roy Ziv.

Hear him play, and you’ll never forget his signature style. See him play and you get the proof. Luckily, not only does his Masterclass series allow you to treat both your visual and auditory senses, but it also gives you some of the secrets to unlock Mr Ziv’s war chest of tricks.

We spoke to Roy himself, to give you the lowdown on this unique Masterclass.

Q: What is the hexatonic scale?

The hexatonic scale is just a fancy name for a 6 note scale. By definition, any scale made up of six notes per octave is a hexatonic scale, because hexa equals six. A few examples you may be familiar with are the whole tone scale and the blues scale.

But in this Masterclass, we’ll be working with the A minor hexatonic scale, which consists of the root, 2nd, minor 3rd, 4th, 5th, and minor 7th.

You can think of it as just a minor scale without the 6th note, or the way I visualize it, is just a pentatonic scale, with the added 2nd. If you’re familiar with any of the five pentatonic shapes, all you need to do is add that one extra note in each shape.

Adding that second interval, or as I like to call it - the 9th (which is just an octave plus the 2nd) will give your solos more of a jazzy fusion sound, but can also work in a blues setting for more unique licks. Eric Johnson, Jimi Hendrix and Stevie Ray Vaughan are a few of the players that use this extra note in their blues licks.

Q: Why do you think it is important to learn it?

It provides the player with a simple way to spice up their playing and achieve a fresh, unique, modern sound, in the simplest possible way. Just add one note to a scale every guitar player is already familiar with!

A lot of players want to break out of that overplayed pentatonic sound, but when they read up online or watch YouTube videos, they immediately get overwhelmed with all the scales out there and end up giving up too early. This scale takes a scale everyone already knows (the pentatonic), and by adding just one note, gives them endless possibilities for cool licks and phrases.

Q: You can certainly hear the hexatonic scale in your playing, is that something you stumbled on naturally or did it come from some kind of influence?

Growing up, I was always chasing that jazzy fusion sound but was either too overwhelmed with jazz theory or just couldn’t make these crazy scales sound musical. So I tried to fake that sound I kept hearing in my head and noticed that whenever I add the 9th tension, it gave my solos a jazzier flavour. I loved the way it sounded and tried to implement that extra note whenever I could. Eventually, it became a staple part of my playing, as my fingers got used to adding that note all over the fretboard.

As my playing matured I began using that note in more interesting ways by adding jazzy enclosure techniques, chromaticism, and arpeggios, and when I had a closer look at these licks and phrases, I realized that all I'm doing is playing over the pentatonic scale shapes, and sticking in that one extra note!

I started showing my students this idea and their solos and improv instantly improved. That's when I realized I was on to something here, and this could seriously help so many guitarists who are stuck playing the same exact thing over and over.

Q: Apart from learning the scale and all it offers, what else can this Masterclass give a player?

This Masterclass shows you how to take this scale and make it sound musical. Learning the scale is simple. But if you don’t know how to make it sound musical and just run the scale up and down the neck, you'll be missing out on all that it has to offer. That's why the exercises I've presented in this Masterclass are designed to fully maximize the musical potential of this scale, not to mention the 20 licks and final solo that reveal my personal approach of how I use this scale in a modern and fusion style of playing.

But aside from all of that, this Masterclass will give you the confidence to play with more advanced players, drastically improve your technique, take your playing to another level, and finally get you out of that up and down pentatonic box mentality and playing in a more linear and fluid style.

Q: How do you go about creating content like this?

It starts by deconstructing my favourite licks to fully understand what's happening under my fingers and building an exercise to develop a specific technique or flow of motion that will allow you to play those specific licks. It’s all about reverse engineering.

For these three Masterclasses (beginner, intermediate and advanced) I developed over 100 exercises that provide the player with immediate results, and help familiarize and adapt the scale concepts to their playing.

I then used these exercises with my private students and refined each one over and over until they were as beneficial as they could possibly be.

Then it was just a matter of putting it all together in the proper order, writing 3 solos in varying levels of difficulty, styles, and tempos, and writing out the theory booklet that thoroughly explains each concept.

It was a long process, but it was fun. The best part is getting all the emails and Instagram DM’s from players telling me how much this Masterclass helped change and improve their playing.

Q: Any plans for future JTC releases? The heptatonic scale? Octatonic?

Maybe a tetratonic scale! Haha. Just kidding, my next JTC release will most likely be on my phrasing. I get asked about my phrasing all the time, and I've been teaching these phrasing ideas to my students for quite some time. So once I have a good outline, I'll start recording and writing this next Masterclass. 

The Making of 'Primal Feels'

Friday 6th September 2019 Blogroll

Nili Brosh Primal Feels

As music videos go, Primal Feels is one of the most daring and unique you’ll see.

Not only does the video feature the skills of a troupe of incredibly talented artists, but it’s also got a huge hook and more than one example of incredible guitar playing.

So how did it all come together? We spoke with its creator, Nili Brosh.

Q: How did you come up with the idea for this video?

Growing up in the 90s, I watched a LOT of European MTV, and that's where my love for hooks and epic music videos came from. I wanted to make my own version of an MTV music video. I wanted to wait for the right song to mimic the spirit of those older videos, and when I wrote this I knew it would be the one for choreography and big production.

Q: And how long did it take long to shoot?

One day of shooting! What took a long time was attempting to schedule 7 people who do 10 Cirque du Soleil shows a week under one roof for a few hours. The lesser-known story is that I was massively, massively injured with neck issues during that day - probably the worst I had been in my entire two years at Cirque. But the show had to go on, and nothing felt more worthwhile!

Q: How did you write the track Primal Feels?

I heard both the melodies for the chorus and verse in my head, at two different occasions maybe a week or two apart. I came up with the chorus first, and once the verse was there, I could tell the chord changes were leading it smoothly to the chorus and knew it was meant for the same song.

Q: And what does Primal Feels actually mean?

To me "Primal Feels" is self-explanatory. When you feel passionate about someone in a way that comes from a deep, primal place in yourself that your mind has no control over it.

Q: Is this a good flavour of the album or are there lots of surprises?

Yes and no! The album concept is a spectrum that fades from genre to genre, so there are a few tracks in a similar vein but several that are in quite a different direction as well.

Q: Will we get any more dancing videos?

Could be! I definitely love working with these guys, they are some of the most incredible dancers in the world who I'm blessed to call friends. I certainly miss doing shows with them every night, so we'll see what the future holds!

Q: And if you could give one guitar-based track the ‘Primal Feels video treatment’ what would it be?

I thought about this for a long time and it's such a hard one, so I'll pick a few players instead of tracks - I think Mateus Asato or Lari Basilio's music might be a great and interesting match for something like this!

New Nili Brosh JTC lessons

Nili Brosh’s new album is going to be released soon, and that means more tracks to learn! Sign up to be the first to hear about her next JTC release.

George Marios: Masterclass Q&A

Monday 16th September 2019 Blogroll

george marios creative diatonic triads interview

When deciding what content to release next, we give our guitarists a lot of creative freedom. This means we get different approaches and ideas that are of real value to the community.

And in George’s ‘Creative Diatonic Triads Masterclass’ we get that value in spades. The core idea is simple, but it’s mightily effective.

Let’s find out more from George himself.

Q: In basic terms, what are diatonic triads?

Diatonic Triads are the groupings of root, 3rd and 5th for every chord of a major and minor scale.

Q: Why are they so important?

They are immensely important as in the context of soloing they help us incorporate melodic lines that outline the chord sequence we are playing over.

Q: How did you go about creating the content for this release?

Much of the material is taken from concepts I already use with my students.

In a nutshell, I thought, "Okay....if I was early into my guitar journey and I didn't know anything about triads, how could I go about it in a straightforward and simple way so that I can begin to incorporate them into my playing in a musical and creative way."

The best thing about this release is that concepts are elastic, so the more you grow the further you can push yourself with the material.

Q: Has it helped you come up with new ideas?

This approach has definitely helped me become a more substantial and, melody-wise, interesting soloist.

Q: What’s the biggest takeaway from this pack?

Simple concepts are able to generate practice for life!

Q: Out of your JTC releases, have you got a favourite?

Hmmmm, this one is certainly more substantial, given that anyone can get those concepts and adapt them to their style! So, this one it is!

Student Q&A: Gary Steele

Monday 27th January 2020 Blogroll

gary steele jtc guitar student

When we launched our Online Courses, through our Bootcamp platform, the aim was to help you improve faster. This means personalised feedback, rewards for nailing lessons and a commitment to nothing but perfection.

Gary Steele, under the tutelage of Luca Mantovanelli, is not only the first person to complete a full course, but he did so with gold stars all the way. On every module he went over the exercises, licks and tasks until he had completely nailed them, earning himself 12 Gold Stars and a spot at the top of the Bootcamp Hall of Fame!

This is his experience.

Q: Tell us about yourself as a guitarist.

I started playing guitar at 11 years old. I developed listening skills early in my playing by jamming along to SRV, Hendrix (specifically, the “Born Under a Bad Sign” track from the “Blues” album) and Led Zeppelin (BBC sessions - I think I had this on TAPE). I played guitar in a few groups with some of my friends growing up, writing all original music. We had a MySpace page. Ha! Performing and writing music in a group was paramount for my musical development in my teenage years. I took my first private guitar lessons at age 16 to develop reading skills and dabble in classical and jazz guitar. Around 18 years old I got a job teaching beginner guitar players at Contemporary Music Center of Northern Virginia. At 22, I decided to move to Wilmington, NC to be with my band and attend the University of North Carolina at Wilmington where I earned a BA in Music. While in college, I taught private lessons at other local music shops and then eventually broke off on my own to teach lessons from my living room and later, a backyard studio that I built (with a little help from my friends). The Beatles, yeah! This was the start of my entrepreneurial career in the form of Steele Music Studios, a small music school in Wilmington, NC. I have since moved the business to a public space where I now work with 14 wonderful instructors on an array of different instruments to help 100+ growing musicians with private lessons and perform in small ensembles.

While starting this business, I took many gigs and played with lots of great musicians, performing in hip hop, jazz, rock, reggae, contemporary Christian and musical theatre groups. I basically made it a policy to not turn down a gig if my schedule was open. It was wonderful to make a living doing what I loved, but I burned out. Practicing for the next gig was the only practice I was getting, and although I was learning a plethora of tunes, I was no longer practicing to make myself a more efficient and informed player. At age 35, I came across an internet ad for JTC Guitar.

Q: What made you decide to take one of our Online Courses?

I never “took a break” from playing guitar, but I reached a point where my playing was stuck in the same place for a few years. I was finally tired of that. Funny enough, I guess my ego hadn’t suffered much. I signed up for the Advanced Bootcamp first, and thought, “let's tackle this real quick, it shouldn’t be that much of a challenge.” I was immediately humbled and immediately motivated. After messaging with Luca, we decided it best to go through the Intermediate Bootcamp, because he believed (as I now do) there was value for me there. He was spot on.

Q: How has it been working with Luca on the course?

Wonderful! He is very objective in his analysis and his attention to detail is acute. What he required from my playing absolutely made me a better guitarist.

Q: How has it improved your playing?

In many ways. Maybe best illustrated by this one scenario: In my pentatonic/blues playing, I have made very good use of the b5 note in the scale as well as the major 3 sound. But I was only comfortable using it in a couple (if not only one) pattern on the fretboard. Through Luca’s exercises and licks, I was able to use this idea more effectively all over the fretboard. Which in turn, expanded my own vocabulary and “lick library.”

Q: Do you think your new skills have carried over into your everyday playing?

Absolutely. If you practice the material the way you are supposed to, the volume of repetitions will inevitably ingrain the information under your fingertips.

Did you find the Bootcamp platform more enjoyable and engaging than other ways of learning guitar?

Learning guitar is enjoyable, period. The JTC format allows me yet another effective way to better myself as a musician. I like the idea of being connected to people across the world all in the name of music! It provides access to the ideas and methods of other players everywhere. I firmly believe that because of educational platforms like JTC, the bar for musicianship will be significantly raised, world wide.

Q: What's been the best bit of the course?

Ugh… Getting better at guitar.

Rediscovering my love/motivation/passion/desire to get better at my craft.

Q: As a teacher yourself, what lessons will you pass on?

I have already put some exercises and licks to use with some of my students. But more importantly, paying attention to detail and being objective about your own playing no matter how much it hurts your ego to know you haven’t done/played something properly. Fixing the small errors pay off in a big way in the long run.

Before you go…

Check out this video if you want to find out more about our Online Courses.

Rodrigo Gouveia: Masterclass Q&A

Wednesday 29th January 2020 Blogroll

Rodrigo Gouveia Interview

Rodrigo Gouveia’s ability to fuse simple melodies into complex jazz-inspired lines has helped him become one of the most respected guitarists in Brazil.

His Neo-Soul Fusion Masterclass is an opportunity to see his process, and to learn how to approach the guitar in the same unmistakable way.

Here to give you an in-depth look at this groundbreaking release, is Rodrigo himself.

Q: What is neo-soul-fusion?

Basically this genre has in its essence a combination of musical elements of other styles as the name suggests.

Neo-soul essentially is the musical style joining elements of hip-hop, contemporary R&B and soul music of the 70s. Neo-soul fusion then incorporates all of these aspects of the styles with the jazzy language characteristic of the fusion style.

Q: How did you land on your style of playing?

I began in rock and developed my technique in this style. At that time it was more difficult for me to have access to content as it is today. I mean, I used to borrow or purchase DVDs or cassettes and study hard and focus on what that material had for me. I feel that helped me to improve my technique hugely, despite the limitations that the internet came to solve.

Just 2 years after immersing myself in rock music, I joined a funk and soul band called Groove Soul which allowed me to develop my harmonic skills. It was a big change in my playing, which helped to develop some versatility as well.

In the meantime, I was introduced to the biggest inspiration in music I have such as fusion legends Scott Handerson and Frank Gambale.

Being exposed to different genres along with my music career definitely helped to shape the musician I am today.

Q: I know you work closely with Cassias Guitars, what makes them special to you?

The Cassias Guitars fame has always been renowned in Brazil and overseas, also by the top Luthiers of the world. Honestly, I have always been attracted to the design of Cassias Guitars. But after playing one of them I was convinced by the quality and its sound. Apart from being well designed and absolutely comfortable, the guitars are also versatile. It sounds fantastic from jazz to rock.

Q: What was the inspiration behind this Masterclass?

As many are attracted to this amazing style and are interested in getting into the neo-soul fusion world, I am frequently asked about the basic principles of neo-soul fusion. To help these people to start off, I came up with the four fundamental technical aspects. I have been inspired by the students, who always make me figure out how to help their learning easier and better.

Q: What do you want people to take away from this Masterclass?

What I really want people to get from this first Masterclass is the technical requirements to improve their playing when incorporating the neo-soul fusion style. I developed this Masterclass also for those guitarists looking to create melody inside the chords, or at least to start doing so.

Before you go...

A huge thanks to Rodrigo for chatting to us. Watch below to find out more about his incredible Masterclass!

Get to know: Lucas Moscardini

Monday 3rd February 2020 Blogroll

lucas moscardini interview

Fusing Latin vibes with his own brand of djent inspired prog riffs and lead lines, Lucas Moscardini truly is a player to watch.

His JTC debut sees him tackle and teach the solo from the Vitalism track, “Favela”. And we couldn’t be happier to help him spread his musical message.

Let’s find out more about the man of the moment.

Q: When did you first start playing?

I started messing around with my father's acoustic when I was 9. But when I was 11, my uncle lent me his guitar so I got addicted to music and things started to get a little more serious after that!

Q: You mix up lead and rhythm in your playing, but which do you prefer?

Hard one! Hahaha. That's why we do what some people call "shriffs" which are shred/riff sections. But if I had to choose one I would choose rhythm. Just because it feels SO good to play groovy riffs on stage!

Q: How do you guys approach writing music for Vitalism?

We love to add elements from other genres. On our last EP called "SY" we've used many South American elements and influences to shape the sound! We tend to start with a rough vision of the vibe of the song. Then we usually choose one or two keys for the song we're working so each one of us writes at home some riffs, grooves and chord progressions that fit on the same key. After that, we meet and start combining all our ideas in a way that makes sense for us

Q: What guitars and gear are you using at the moment?

I've been using my Legator Ninja X series and my Legator OD series that I've recently added a pair of EMGs 57-7 and 66-7. I was recording for my new project last week and we've used the OD series with EMGs and I was blown away with the tones we got from it! Live I'm using the Joyo GEM BOX III and in the studio I use Neural DSP plugins.

Q: Who are your biggest influences?

On the guitar front, I have to mention Synyster Gates, Marty Friedman, Steve Vai, Slash, Jimmy Page and Guthrie Govan.

Q: If someone is going to try and discover latin guitarists, where should they start?

If you're coming from a metal background I would definitely have to recommend Kiko Loureiro. He's a true master of the guitar! If you want something more jazzy with a brazillian spice you should check out Pedro Martins and Pipoquinha. (Pipoquinha is a bass player but you will thank me later if you don't know him yet). I also have to mention my dudes Charlie Parra, Luís Kalil and Felix Martin! They're all absolutely killer musicians!

Q: For playing djent, prog metal etc, what would be your number one tip?

Of course the number one tip is to subscribe to my YouTube channel because I've been posting some cool lessons there! Hahaha.

Now seriously: focus on playing as clean as possible, on tempo and make sure to have fun with these riffs!

Q: Who is your favourite JTC artist?

Oh that's a really hard one! It's not possible for me to choose only one because you have the best players out there on your roaster! Hahaha.

So I'll have to mention Mateus Asato, Charlie Parra, Manuel Gardner Fernandes, Guthrie Govan, Charlie Robbins, Kiko Loureiro and Lari Basilio.

Q: Your debut release is here! Why should people get it?

Because I think you'll learn many new approaches on writing solos, applying techniques and on implementing influences from other genres to your playing. I believe that it will inspire people to expand their creativity and to get even more passionate about guitar and music!

Before you go

A huge thanks to Lucas for talking to us. Check out his JTC debut below!

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Praise for Hedras Ramos

Thursday 29th December 2011 News

Our very own Hedras Ramos has been given some serious praise by the legend Sir Christopher Lee, of Lord of the Rings and Dracula fame. Hedras is taking over the guitars for Sir Christopher's new heavy metal album 'The Omens of Dead'. After Sir Christopher had witnessed what young Hedras is capable of with his axe he went on quote to say '....He is brilliant'. It seems that Hedras is everywhere at the minute, appearing in magazines and articles all over the world. We expect a very bright future for him and this extra publicity will only help raise his profile. 

Praise for Hedras Ramos

Thursday 29th December 2011 News

Our very own Hedras Ramos has been given some serious praise by the legend Sir Christopher Lee, of Lord of the Rings and Dracula fame. Hedras is taking over the guitars for Sir Christopher's new heavy metal album 'The Omens of Dead'. After Sir Christopher had witnessed what young Hedras is capable of with his axe he went on quote to say '....He is brilliant'. It seems that Hedras is everywhere at the minute, appearing in magazines and articles all over the world. We expect a very bright future for him and this extra publicity will only help raise his profile. 

Alex Hutchings on Coronation Street!

Thursday 14th June 2012 News

That's right....our very own Mr Alex Hutchings has made it to the height of prime time UK television by grabbing a slot on Coronation Street, watched by 10 million viewers. Well ok...maybe not in person, but his amazing track 'Feeling Fine' (from Custom Fusion Series 1) was played in the background of Corry's local bistro. It would appear that instead of playing the usual Justin Beiber or similar pop tracks they clearly decided to go with real talent and choose one of Jam Track Central's most loved tracks. Obviously, the JTC quality prevailed! To come and see the clip then visit our articles page. It seems pretty clear as well that both the male characters in this clip like a pair of humbuckers too! 

Alex Hutchings on Coronation Street!

Thursday 14th June 2012 News

That's right....our very own Mr Alex Hutchings has made it to the height of prime time UK television by grabbing a slot on Coronation Street, watched by 10 million viewers. Well ok...maybe not in person, but his amazing track 'Feeling Fine' (from Custom Fusion Series 1) was played in the background of Corry's local bistro. It would appear that instead of playing the usual Justin Beiber or similar pop tracks they clearly decided to go with real talent and choose one of Jam Track Central's most loved tracks. Obviously, the JTC quality prevailed! To come and see the clip then visit our articles page. It seems pretty clear as well that both the male characters in this clip like a pair of humbuckers too! 

Andy James EP Launches Jan 2013

Tuesday 18th December 2012 News

Andy James' brand new 4 track EP Psychic Transfusion is being released through our JTC Records label early January! And boy oh boy you are not gonna know what hit you! These tracks are EPIC!

 

Andy has teamed up with our Canadian friend Alan 'Sacha' Laskow and created 4 tracks of pure hard hitting metal genius! This is Andy at his absolute best.
In true JTC style we will be releasing the EP as well as deluxe editions including the backing tracks and full transcriptions. It's gonna be a great start to 2013.

AH and GG on Corry!

Tuesday 22nd January 2013 News

There are not many (or maybe any) other companies out there that can boast that the music created by their Artists is regularly played on some of the UK's biggest television programs....but we can.
You often hear one of our tracks being played in the background of the UK's most loved and watched (by 8 million+) soap, Coronation Street. However, last week there was not one but two tracks played throughout one episode. Guthrie Govan's 'Emotive Ballad' and Alex Hutchings 'Summer Of Love' were keeping all the customers in Nick's bistro rather happy.
Apparently, one of the extras was kicked off set for playing air guitar! 

JTC for iPad Users

Wednesday 13th February 2013 News

If you are an iPad user (as most of us at JTC are!) and you want to enjoy your JTC purchases directly on your iPad, then you can.

First and foremost you are going to need a couple of apps. We recommend you use a Zip File app called Zip Browser (there is a free or paid for version) as this will open the zip folder and play the files. You could also go for a Zip File App such as WinZip, and a Media Player app such as iMediaPlayer.

Once you have these installed, all you need to do is:

1) Log into your account using Safari on your iPad

2) Head to your dashboard

3) Click 'Download Now' on your chosen product

4) Wait for the file to download (the screen looks like it is loading a new page), upon completion you will be presented with an option to 'Open With'.

5) Select your zip app of choice

6) Head to the zip app and you will be able to see the files

7) Select a file and the option to 'play this file with' should appear. Select the Media player app or play within the app, depending on which route you went for.

8) Away you go!

Alex Hutchings Makes Butter Sexy

Wednesday 20th February 2013 News

That's right folks, Alex Hutchings has made butter...sexy! Before you get the wrong idea, we are not talking about him rubbing himself up and down with the stuff or cleaning his fretboard with it whilst wearing some skimpy clothing....no, we mean the way he knows best. With his music!

Taken from his Custom Fusion Series 3 package, Midnight Blues (check preview 4) is the track that Flora called upon to make their brand sound sexy in their new advert.  

Voiced by Stephen Fry and with Alex's sultry tones in the background you finish watching the advert and immediately fancy a nice baked potato or piece of toast, dripping with good ol' butter!

On a serious note though, once again JTC and our artists music is being used for TV, Film and Commercials. Just goes to show why we have such a big reputation for our super high quality tracks. 

The Ring Of Destiny

Tuesday 21st May 2013 News

 

Do you want to wear the ring of destiny? Well, the JTC artists certainly do.....but whose hands are these? Three of our superb artists have already been caught wearing the awesome Stephen Einhorn Skull Ring with Amethyst Eyes during recent visits to JTC HQ. It has even been said that when wearing one it can increase the players level of shred by over 300%! Go check it out to find out who these hands belong to and more about this awesome ring!

New Aristocrats

Thursday 23rd May 2013 News

BIG NEWS ALERT!!

The brand new Aristocrats album 'Culture Clash' is coming to JTC and will be available in both Official Backings and Deluxe Edition versions! It will be realeased on the 16th July alongside the official worldwide release of the album!

Once again you will be able to become Guthrie as you learn every single note from the album, whilst you jam along with the most sought after rhythm section in the world; Marco Minneman and Bryan Beller!

And what an incredible album cover.

Yes, they are fighting a pig, a chicken, and a spaceman, in front of a biblically-referenced structure. :-)

And here is the track listing for the new album:

1. Dance Of The Aristocrats

2. Culture Clash

3. Louisville Stomp

4. Ohhhh Noooo

5. Gaping Head Wound

6. Desert Tornado

7. Cocktail Umbrellas

8. Living The Dream

9. And Finally

 

Once again we are honoured to bring you another incredible album and its official backings. Bring on July.....

Choose your currency

Monday 24th June 2013 News

As of today you can switch the site to display all of our products in either Pound Sterling, Dollars or Euros.....meaning you can purchase in your own (or chosen) currency. How is that for piece of mind! 

If you are just browsing then click the currency you would prefer at the top of the page.

However, when you log in for the first time you will be requested to choose the currency you prefer. Once saved, every time you log in the site will automatically switch to the currency you chose. If you ever want to switch back, simply head back to your Account tab and change it. 

We hope that this new feature will help our international customers enjoy their experience on the site even further!

Website Update

Wednesday 3rd September 2014 News

For those who don't know, Soundslice is a relatively new feature we added to the site which eases the learning process. It is available through the Premium membership package, as well as a 14 day free trial. 

We have updated our Soundslice program to include more aesthetically pleasing ties. It is a minor change but it makes all the difference!

 

We have also updated our Soundslice program to include a transposition function which allows you to alter the notation to fit a transposing instrument. This means our non-guitar playing friends can have a go at the many packages available at Jamtrackcentral! 

Perhaps a saxophone player could try one of Alex Hutchings' fusion packages, such as the Custom Fusion Series 1 package.

 

Interactive Fretboard Feature

Tuesday 4th November 2014 News

We’ve just launched an awesome new feature: an animated fretboard display.

You’ll now see a "Fretboard" button at the bottom of any Learn page score that has at least one tablature part. Click that button, and you’ll see a guitar fretboard at the bottom of the interface.

 

The fretboard highlights the currently playing notes, along with all of the notes in the currently playing measure. This is great for getting a visual sense of how to play a given passage.

Here’s an especially nice feature: if you drag across the notation to make a loopable selection, the fretboard will change in real time to show you all the notes used within the selection. It’s super useful for seeing how a lick is laid out on the instrument.

 

Competition Time!

Monday 24th November 2014 News

Fancy winning a year's free premium membership to JTC plus £1000 to spend on Stephen Einhorn Skull Jellewery Collection? Well you can do EXACTLY that by clicking the image below and entering the competition! Good Luck!

 

 

 

Marco Sfogli Joins Victory Amps!

Thursday 5th February 2015 News

JTC Artist and guitar wizard Marco Sfogli recently announced he is now and endorsing artist of the great Victory Amps. We're looking forward to the great things to come from this arrangement and what a match up!


Marco said on his Facebook page recently: "So it's been a while now and I guess is time to tell the truth. It's been two wonderful years with Marco De Virgilis and the good guys at DV Mark, they pushed me like nobody did before and I'll be always grateful for the good times spent laughing, talking amps and life, late night shenanigans and whatnot (plus all the new friend and long time heroes that I had the chance to meet during this time). But for me as a professional, whether in the studio or live having more tools is essential to get the job done as quickly as possible. I'll continue using their Multiamp where possible as well as all my digital studio gear like the Axe FX or the Kemper (yes, I got a Kemper as well) and whatever would make my job easier (used a cheap and small Zoom 9002 for years and on countless recordings as well, can you believe it?). This said, I'm extremely proud about revealing that I'm now a Victory Amps endorser and that the V30 (the small lunchbox amp with a killer tone) will be my main live amp from now on. Thanks to Lee Captain Anderton and Martin Kidd for this opportunity, can't wait to let you hear what this amp can delivery! Please avoid any unnecessary comment or "this vs. this" thread because it will only led me to delete the posts.
Sincerely
The Bald Guy"


How about that then, we'll keep you posted on any updates!

Steve.

JTC Guitar Solo Contest

Monday 30th November -0001 News

The winner becomes a JTC artist!

Any Player, Any Style, Become The First!

-Two Rounds - Ten Finalists!
-12 JTC Artist Judges
-£8.5k+ Prizes
-Winner becomes a JTC Artist!

So it's finally here; the JTC Guitar Solo Contest 2015 and it's going to be BIG! There are prizes worth over £8500! We have amps, electric guitars, an AxeFxII, pickups, pedals, strings, vouchers, endorsement deals with major sponsors and the grand prize of becoming a ‘JTC Artist’. In short: we have everything! The winner will join the JTC artist roster alongside some of the world’s best guitarists such as Guthrie Govan, Alex Hutchings, Jeff Loomis, Kiko Loureiro, Marco Sfogli, Jack Thammarat, Andy James and many more!


The contest is free to download and enter. All you need to do it filmyourself playing a solo over one of the five selected JTC backing tracks, upload it to YouTube and submit your entry on the site. The competition is aimed at all players, with backing tracks in Rock, Metal, Fusion, Blues and Funk styles. Be sure to check out the Terms and Conditions on the site for the full details/rules or the README file in the free contest download.

Round One - Anyone can enter.

Round Two – Ten finalists will be chosen. They will then have to record and film an original composition.

The finalists will be selected by the JTC celebrity judging panel, featuring 12 of JTC’s top artists. These will include Jack Thammarat, Martin Miller and Marco Sfogli. All finalists will receive prizes from a prize pool worth over £8.5k, which includes some incredible products from Fractal Audio, Music Man, Alvarez, Boss, Toontrack, EMG, Blackstar,  D’Addario and Andertons Music!

 

And the very special ‘First Prize’? As well as winning the prize jackpot, the winning composition will be released as a selling product at Jamtrackcentral.com, and the winner will have the opportunity to become a regular JTC contributor. This will bring regular worldwide exposure and a guaranteed income from JTC’s artist royalty scheme.

 


YouTube Full Promo: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NIgKDdm2-Kw

Facebook Full Promo: https://www.facebook.com/video.php?v=943428002356388

 

Below are the chord charts for the tracks in the contest download package!

 

JTC Guitar Solo Contest 2015 - Chord Charts

 

FUSION

D#m11

D#m11

Em11

Em11

D#m11

D#m11

Em11

A13b9

F#m11

Gm9

F#m11

Gm9

F#m11

Gm9

F#m11

F#7#9

Bm11

Bm11

Cm11

Cm11

Bm11

Bm11

Cm11

F13b9

Bbadd9/D

Eb9sus4

Bbadd9/D

Eb9sus4

Bbadd9/D

Eb9sus4

B13#11

Bb7#5

 

 

 

BLUES           

||:  F#7

F#7

F#7

F#7

B7

B7

F#7

F#7

C#7

B7

F#7

C#7                  :|| x3

 

 

 

FUNK

Em7

Em7           A/E

Em7

Em7           A/E

Em7

Em7           A/E

Em7

Em7           A/E

Cmaj7        Bm7

Bbmaj7      Am7

Em7

Em7           A/E

Cmaj7        Bm7

Bbmaj7      Am7

Cmaj7        Bm7

Bbmaj7      Am7

B7#5

B7#5

Em7

 

 

 

 

 

METAL

||:  D5

D5                (Eb5 F5)

D5

(riff: G Ab F G Eb)

D5

D5                (Eb5 F5)

D5

(riff: G Ab F G Eb)

D5

D5                (Eb5 F5)

D5

(riff: G Ab F G Eb)

D5

D5                (Eb5 F5)

D5

(riff: G Ab F G Eb)

E5                 (F5 G5)

E5

E5                 (F5 G5)

E5

E5                 (F5 G5)

E5

E5                 (F5 G5)

E5           Eb5     :|| x2

 

 

 

ROCK

(Em)

(Em)

(Em)

(Em)

Cadd9         D

Bm7           Em7

Cadd9         D

Bm7           Em7

Cadd9         D

Bm7           Em7

Cadd9         D

B7#9          C7#9

B7#9          C7#9

(Em)

(Em)

(Em)

 

 

 

 

 

 

First Contest Entries In!

Tuesday 10th March 2015 News

So the competition is getting under way now. We're exactly one week in and we have 21 days left for entrants to get their videos in! We have the first 250 entries up on our website. We've had some REALLY great entries so far, and the Rock track is proving to be very popular indeed!

If you haven't entered yet have a look at the contest promo video below and then head over the contest pages on the site to sign up and download the free backings! Keep the entries coming in, stay creative, keep rocking', and if you have already entered; best of luck!

The JTC Team.

Full Contest Promo: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NIgKDdm2-Kw

Currys PC World and JTC

Wednesday 18th March 2015 News

Recently, JTC was asked to 'lend a hand' in the new Currys PC World TV advert, and naturally we were pleased to help out! So if you check out the link below, or happen to catch the advert on TV, the close-up footage of the hands playing the shred guitar belong to JTC's very own Jake Wilson! The advert also features some rocking music by JTC's co-founder Jan Cyrka.

Click here to see the advert on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BkTFKPHjVcU

 

 

Steve

Jam Track Central

Martin Miller Joins Ibanez!

Tuesday 21st April 2015 News

We have some great news for you all!

Martin Miller has announced that he will now be joining Ibanez as an endorsee! We would like to congratulate both Martin and Ibanez on their recent aquisitions and we think that great things will come from this partnership!

On his Facebook page Martin recently posted:

'Alright guys, I was eagerly waiting for a few weeks now to give you the official news:

I now endorse Ibanez Guitars exclusively! I'm super stoked about this relationship and can't tell you guys how excited I am to be part of this amazing family. I'm sure we as partners will have many great projects in the pipeline for the future.

The guitar you see in this picture is the brand new RG652k with DiMarzio humbuckers, original edge trem, basswood body, etc. What can I say? This thing plays and sounds like an utter dream. I got it along with a few other very nice axes, which I'm going to reveal very soon. Also, later in the year I'll receive some truly special instruments, watch this space!

It's funny how I've come full circle with Ibanez and Laney, as those were the brands I've been playing for ages since my early years. Feels good to be back home.

Special thanks to Hiroki Rocky Oda for putting his trust into me and Stephan Killermann and Meinl Distribution - Großhandel für Musikinstrumente for providing the best local support a lil' guitar player like me could ask for! Mad props go to Dirk Kaltenhäuser for his wonderful photography. Here's to the future!!!'


 

 

And The JTC Guitar Solo Contest Winner Is...

Tuesday 2nd June 2015 News

*1st Place* The JTC Guitar Solo Contest 2015 Winner Is....

 

The response has been phenominal to our very first guitar constest, we've seen some absolutely outstading performances and it's time to reveal the winner of the 2015 Guitar Solo Contest!

Vinai Trinateepakdee said 'Smart player indeed! He knows how to make interesting melodies with different variations.'

Jack Thammarat said 'He is a very good melodic player. I love his feeling and variation in his playing. This song is very interesting!'

Paul Wardingham said 'Nice tone, strong catchy melodies and interesting solos, what more could you want? Excellent musicality on display!'

Mr Fastfinger said 'Effortless and versatile player. Great composition!'

Rabea Massaad said 'He has a great sense of melody and rhythm, uses the entire fretboard to his advantage. He kept me interested with a well written piece that displayed both his tehcnique and melodic playing really well. He should definitely be a JTC artist in my opinion!

But who could they be talking about? Yep, it's Kenny Serane!

Watch his winning entry, Sweet Euterpê

JTC would like to extend our thanks to everyone who entered and all of our fantastic sponsors!


Please visit our sponsors websites:

Fractal Audio - http://www.fractalaudio.com/
Ernie Ball Music Man - http://www.music-man.com/
Alvarez - http://www.alvarezguitars.com/
Blackstar - http://www.blackstaramps.com/
EMG Pickups - http://www.emgpickups.co.uk/
Toontrack - http://www.toontrack.com/
Boss - http://www.bossus.com/
D'Addario - http://www.daddario.com/
Andertons Music - http://www.andertons.co.uk/


Masterclass Series

Wednesday 22nd July 2015 News

JTC is VERY proud to announce our brand new type of product called the 'Masterclass' series. This is your chance to get up close and personal with some of JTC's greatest players and learn their ideas, approaches and techniques directly from the artists themselves.

The content of these products can vary as we wanted to give our artists the creative freedom to bring you a product that they felt best explains the concepts that they wish to convey. Our very first masterclass package is by the incredible Al Joseph.

In his first masterclass package there are 6 main videos. Al starts with a quick introduction video moving onto 'Melodic Phrasing Essentials’ and 'Melodic Phrasing Utilities’. In these, Al gives you all the tools and tips you'll need to work through this course. He then follows up with 'Time Feel' (detailing how he uses rhythmic methods and time feel to generate creative melodic ideas) and 'Melodic Phrasing Motifs' in which he explains his methods behind actually creating his phrases.

Then you will find 10 awesome extended phrases for you to master. Each making great use of the tools and tips detailed in the masterclass section, and each coming with its own slow video and accompanying breakdown video where Al takes you through each lick step by step. We've even included some brief text notes alongside Al's explanations to help you work out what's happening in the phrases.

Once you've nailed all the extended phrases it's time to put all the material to the test and prove your newly earned skills over the highly jammable backing track. This is your chance to create your own licks and jam out the example phrases in the package. We’ve even included a slow version of the phrase backing track to help you get those tough lines up to speed!

All in all, it's a very exciting new product type at JTC which has a HUGE amount of potential for improving your playing with each and every masterclass package you download!

To check out Al's Melodic Phrasing Masterclass click the image below:


Johnny Hiland Joins JTC!

Monday 27th July 2015 News

JTC is very pleased to welcome Nashville guitarist and Shrapnel Records recording artist Johnny Hiland to the JTC ranks! Johnny is a prestigious and world renowned country/blues/rock guitar picker and no-one plays quite like he does!

His first JTC pack title 'Johnny Hiland's 20 Favourite Country Licks' is available now!:

It's a huge pleasure to have Johnny with us and we're excited for all the incredible content he will be bringing to you!

- JTC

Jarle Olsen Joins JTC

Tuesday 25th August 2015 News

JTC is very pleased to be able to welcome Jarle H. Olsen to the JTC artist roster! Jarle is an absolutely fantastic prog-metal guitarist and we're very much looking forward to all the great content he is going to be bringing to JTC!

Check out the debut from Jarle Olsen!

 

Jake Willson: Practice Toolkit Q&A

Thursday 6th June 2019 News

jake willson practice toolkit

Here at JTC we have a lot of amazing content and behind all that comes a lot of time and hard work. It can be easy to forget that your go-to Masterclass, 20 Licks pack or Jamtrack, is in fact a committed effort by a talented artist who wants to share their skills and knowledge. So it’s time to shed some more light on what goes on.

With our recent Practice Toolkit Masterclass, perhaps our biggest JTC pack yet, we thought we’d go behind the scenes and chat to its creator, Jake Willson.

Q: What was the inspiration behind this Masterclass?

It’s something I’m really interested in and passionate about (I actually really enjoy the quasi-meditative feeling that I get from a disciplined and structured practice session).  People have always asked me about ‘how to set up a practice schedule?’ or ‘how should I work on my x, y and z?’ etc. As I started thinking about doing it, I really dug deep about why some people seem to be able to find the energy to practice and others don’t; I’ve been reading a lot lately about the way our decision making is affected and what motivates us to action, and I felt that a lot of that stuff really resonated with the challenges we face as practicing musicians.

For example, it can be so hard to just sit down with your guitar some days: why? Don’t we all love playing guitar? My feeling is that we need more of a ‘plan’ about what that time is about, and the incorporation of that plan into our daily lives may have other further ramifications to how we approach life and productivity in general.

It’s powerful stuff, I think.

Beyond that, my dream was to have a ‘one stop shop’ for (almost) everything a lead guitarist would want to use for practice, and by having that resource available it would cut down on some of the time spent wasted thinking about ‘what should I practice?’

Whether you’re a beginner or an advanced player. it’s all there and ready to go. Honestly, I’ll be using this all the time!

Q: It’s a big one…so how long did it take?

Absolutely ages. ‘201' is a big number! It’s the biggest one of these I’ve ever done and it was quite a strain on my computer (time to upgrade, I think)!! Coming up with the first few exercises was relatively straightforward (I didn’t want people to spend too much time learning thenew material, so they shouldn’t take more than 10 minutes to get to grips with) but after a while I needed to find ways to increase variety and make sure there was something for all levels in there. I started working on it when I got back from NAMM (early February, 2019) and then continued to work on filming each exercise over the next two months (it was annoying because my camera was ‘in place’ so I couldn’t use it for other things!). I could have done it quicker, but I was doing what I could between shows and other commitments etc.

Q: What’s your favourite part of it?

I have a bit of a soft spot for the booklet. I enjoy writing and I think that there’s some stuff in there that some people might really need to read. It’s a fairly bold piece of writing because it’s about what I think rather than it being a generic textbook for everyone, and that was quite freeing. I think a certain something (a ‘directness’, perhaps?) is lost when people attempt to write ‘definitively’ about subjects, and I’d prefer to be able to collate the experiences of others (almost as though I were reading the various parts of a giant conversation).

Q: What’s the main thing you want people to take away from it?

That structure is important, and that you can still be creative in your practice sessions. I also think just having the exercises in TAB form, on the page is valuable resource. Just open at any page if you don’t know what you should be doing on any given practice session (and that’s the next 20 minutes taken care of)!

Q: Any plans for a future JTC release?

Well, I think this is my [counts on fingers] 14th product with JTC Guitar! And the last two have been enormous (they’re such huge subjects and I’d been putting them off!). At the moment, I’m thinking of doing something based on harmonic devices, or maybe something about ‘outside’ playing, but I’ll happily listen to what the community is up for!

Michael Wagner: Expressive Hard Rock Q&A

Thursday 13th June 2019 News

Sometimes, all you want to do is rock. One man who is clearly a master of that, is JTC’s Michael Wagner. If you need a bit of help learning just how to rock, then we suggest you take a look at his brand new Expressive Hard Rock Masterclass.

And to give you a better insight into what the man behind the pack is about, here’s a behind the pack look, from Michael himself.

Q: What was the inspiration behind this Masterclass?

My biggest hero when I started out playing was AC/DC's Angus Young. He represented everything I think is so cool about the electric guitar; the loudness, the danger, the viciousness. I stole everything I could from him and soon after I started my own hard rock band. My solo stuff for JTC however was always more on the bluesy side of things. So doing a rock oriented package was kind of overdue, because it represents so much of my own history as a guitarist. A cranked up Marshall and an old Les Paul – that’s really what it’s all about, isn’t it? Having played this music for so long, I really felt I could teach other people a few tricks about it.

Q:  What’s your favourite part of it?

I’m pretty happy how “Finger in the Socket“ turned out composition-wise! It has that classic 70s rock ‘n’ roll vibe, but I think I managed to put in some of my signature licks and chord changes so it doesn’t sound too much like a rip-off of any of my favorite bands of that era.

But self-praise is no recommendation, so I just want people to experience the full package themselves and hopefully they can learn something for their own playing. That’s the most important thing for me with all of these JTC packs; to inspire people to get creative. Of course, it’s flattering when I see others on YouTube playing my tracks note for note, but what I really hope to achieve is that people do their own thing with it!

Q: How does the future of rock ‘n’ roll look to you?

Today, guitar-oriented rock music is a niche, but amazing things happen regardless. Despite me being more of a classic rock and blues player, I love the modern rock guitarists like Polyphia’s Tim Henson or Plini Roessler-Holgate. Their sense of melody and composition is so different from classic rock, but that’s exactly what makes it so interesting. It’s always hard to teach an old horse new tricks, but I’m definitely planning on stealing more of their stuff and let it find its way into my style. Having players like them, I think there’s no reason to worry about the future of rock’n’roll. Maybe it’s even gonna find its way back into the mainstream – you never know!

Q:  And apart from rock, what else do you really like to play?

In essence, I’m a blues player with a strong attack and a love of hi gain lead sounds – and the great thing about blues is, you can translate it into pretty much any style. I’m a total groove addict, so I love playing funk. I also love good pop songs, so I’m totally happy with just laying out some chords for a great singer as well. I really enjoy playing any style I’m capable of. The only thing that matters to me is good songs!

Q: What’s next for you at JTC?

In general, JTC for me is an artistic outlet first and foremost. It’s an awesome way to show my own instrumental music to a broader audience. So for me it all comes down to having the next good idea for an instrumental tune. I don’t want to put out new video packages just for the sake of it, but whenever I got some quality material you can be sure there’s gonna be a JTC release!

 

Lari Basilio: Masterclass Q&A

Thursday 13th June 2019 News

Few players can combine technical ability with emotion and catchiness in the way that Lari Basilio does. And not only is she gifted, but she’s also willing to share that gift, and that’s what she does with her “Creating Riffs and Melodies” Masterclass.

To give you a closer insight into the Masterclass, and also the artist herself, we asked Lari a few quick questions. Let’s go “Behind the Pack”.

Q: What was the inspiration behind this Masterclass?

The inspiration for my lessons always comes from wanting to teach something that I love to play. I just love writing, and find that following riffs and melodies comes naturally to me. I believe that the more sincere my lessons are, the more people will be able to take advantage of them. In the end, that's what matters most to me

Q: What’s your favourite part of it?

My favorite part might be that little sentence: CREATING THE HABIT OF CREATING. Once you realize the power of it in practice, beautiful music will happen!

Q: What do you think makes a good riff?

Definitely the attitude! ;)

Q: And what’s your favourite riff of all time?

I have so many favorite riffs of all time! Haha!

Some of them are: Beat It (Michael Jackson), Brompton Cocktail (Avenged Sevenfold), Electric Gypsy (Andy Timmons), among many others.

Q: What’s next for you at JTC?

JTC Guitar definitely has a very important role when it comes to getting the artists closer to the audience, and this is simply fantastic. I'm honored to be part and have the opportunity of sharing content with y'all. Certainly there is much more to come!



Get to Know: Eric Woolard

Wednesday 26th June 2019 News

eric woolard blog hero image

When a guitarist becomes a JTC artist, you know they’re going to be something special. That’s exactly the case with Eric Woolard. This one of a kind country player fuses multiple influences to create a modern style with some strong traditional foundations. 

To give you some background on the man behind the guitar, we thought we’d give you a little introduction. 

Q: When did you first start playing?

I started playing guitar when I was about 12, after starting off playing bass for a year simply since my dad plays bass. 

Q: How did you get into country?

Funnily enough, throughout most of my teens I hated country. Couldn't stand it. I played practically nothing but metal. Eventually, sometime during my senior year of high school, a few songs started to become catchy when I'd hear friends playing them or hear them in stores or whatever. I didn't like that at first, but I got more and more into them until realizing that it wasn't so bad after all haha!

Q: What would be your biggest tip for country players?

My biggest tip would be to get as comfortable as possible with using both your middle and ring fingers on your picking hand to 'chicken pick' (or if using a thumb pick, your index and ring fingers). If that's already comfortable for you, you've figured out what's been the biggest hurdle for me, personally.

As someone coming from metal, getting my middle and mostly my ring finger to want to work right has been quite a challenge. Once you've learned one thing for nearly 10 years, it's tough to start playing with a totally different style. Getting this down is pretty fundamental to that percussive, plucky chicken pickin sound.

Q: How would you describe your style?

I'd like to consider my style like 70% typical chicken pickin and 30% metal. Or maybe 75/25. I'm not sure what the most accurate ratio would be haha. Maybe Johnny Hiland/Brad Paisley infused with...just metal really. Putting a specific metal guitarist in that blend would be really hard to do! 

Q: Who are your biggest influences?

For country, I'd have to say either Johnny Hiland or Brent Mason 

Q: Favourite JTC artist?

Johnny Hiland! Outside of country music, I'm a big Guthrie Govan fan. Martin Miller as well.

Q: Any ideas for future JTC releases?

I'm definitely wanting to put out a 20 Licks pack in the near future. After that, there's no telling what we may come up with.

The Aristocrats: You Know What? (Album Review)

Tuesday 2nd July 2019 News

the aristocrats you know what album review

4/4 time signatures and solid backbeats have laid the foundation for most of the music we love today. But with a group of high-calibre musicians like The Aristocrats, it seems only right to throw out the rule book and create inspiring music that entertains and defies logic

The avant-garde prog-rock supergroup, made up of guitarist Guthrie Govan, drummer Marco Minnemann, and bassist Bryan Beller are known for pushing boundaries. With their latest album, You Know What?, they do just that. 

Full tab/notation, with backing tracks, will be available at JTC Guitar in August. While we take on the daunting task of transcribing You Know What?, let’s see what Guthrie has to offer with a track by track review.

D Grade Fuck Movie Jam

This peculiarly named track starts off in a Band of Gypsys era Hendrix, but then takes an interesting shift into Mahavishnu territory, thanks to a dark spiralling melody. The rhythm chops are mostly accessible to intermediate players, but as you’d expect, Guthrie’s solo cranks things up a notch or twelve. 

Spanish Eddie

One for old-school fusion fans. Guthrie weaves some bubbly clean legato lines over a very Chick Corea-esque progression. The whole track is awash with cool harmony and rhythmic ideas, and even the solo offers plenty of bluesy jazz inspiration for intermediate players. The final section features the flamenco-meets-early-Metallica mashup we've all been waiting for.

When We All Come Together

Guthrie is in peak twang mode here with some seriously grunty baritone low notes. We then move into completely different territory with a rather divine chordal middle section featuring some very challenging time signatures. Maybe brush up on those odd time signature licks before taking this one on.  

All Said and Done

Amid the crazy rhythms and breakneck tempos of this track, a lovely little melodic major-key tune. There is lots for everyone to learn in here, especially the fine art of playing melodically through chord changes. 

Terrible Lizard

Guthrie at the forefront in this one. Gnarly power-chord riffs with rhythmic displacement to keep you on your toes. After that, we have a bit of wah to play with during the solo; always fun. 

Spiritus Cactus

After some mysterious phrygian dominant riffs, Guthrie settles into a lovely atmospheric solo section that could grace an ECM album. Jazz fans rejoice. 

The Ballad of Bonnie and Clyde

Another dark-sounding one with lots of crunchy riffs. This has a clear power-trio arrangement, ideal for ambitious players who want to learn the whole thing for performance. If you do play it live, you’ll have a classic Guthrie solo to contend with which blends Latin-sounding phrygian dominant lines with full-on blues-rock.

Burial at Sea

Guthrie's solo has some great slippery lines with lots of cool chromatic ideas. The track also has some meaty riffs for rhythm players too. Add in the jangly arpeggios, a lot of fuzz and some pitch-shifting effects and you have an off-the-wall track that’s a lot of fun to play once you’ve risen to the challenge. 

Last Orders

The aptly named album finisher is the most accessible of the lot. This wistful tune has lots of slow dreamy chords and melodic single-note lines. The relatively simple harmony allows for lots of experimentation, which is great for intermediate and advanced players. 

Learn the album

You Know What? is an ambitious album, and that ambition has paid off. Between all the madness, you’ll find yourself tapping your feet to grooves, sub-grooves and sub-grooves within a sub-groove. In the battle of “who plays best?” it’s fair to say they’re all winners, but from a guitar perspective, Guthrie’s riffs, leads and funk-filled tones really stand out.

Sign up below to be notified when we have full tab/notation available. 

 

Al Joseph: Masterclass Q&A

Friday 26th July 2019 News

al joseph guitarist with ibanez for JTC Guitar

Think of songwriting greats and the likes of Ray Davies, James Hetfield or Stevie Wonder might spring to mind. Artists with an inert gift, backed up by years of practice and an approach that allows them to squeeze every last drop out of the most basic idea.

It’s a hard task to write a track that lasts the ages, but Al Joseph’s Ultimate Songwriting Masterclass will give you the tools to get started.

We caught up with Al to find out the backstory behind this monster release.

Q: What was the inspiration behind this Masterclass?

I’d been getting a lot of questions over the years about writing music and melody seemed to be the foremost important aspect. There is a need in the guitar community to refine the way we play and write melodies, so I’m happy to finally offer a guide.

Q: It’s a very big release, how long did it take to put together?

Well I had to write the song first so we’re talking two weeks for that plus another two to then make a tutorial out of it. So give or take, around a month.

Q: What is your favourite part of it?

My favorite part was definitely breaking down the melodies in separate dynamics for the player to play. I’ve created different licks and phrases to help the player understand more deeply how I construct the lines for all my songs. This should be an eye-opening experience to say the least.

Q: What’s the best method for taking on this pack?

Patience. You definitely need to time to absorb this pack all the way through. My hope is that the player truly learns how to control their dynamics and their sound. I also hope that they learn the various mechanics of melodies so that they can replicate the true sound of a professional guitarist.

Q: Is there a type of player you’ve aimed this release at?

This Masterclass is for all players. Doesn’t matter whether you’re a beginner, intermediate, or advanced player. You’re never too good to improve on your time feel, dynamics, and analysis of music. It’s a constant journey.

Q: Did you write ‘Surgeon General’ with the Masterclass in mind, or was it a more organic process?

I’d say both. I plan to release this single soon in its original key (D major). However, I retracted it in the key of E minor so six-string players can get a clear chance to breakdown the song within the package.

Q: If there is one person YOU would like to learn from when it comes to songwriting, who would it be and why?

I’ve been listening to a lot of “Tears For Fears” these days. The production and songwriting is just so innovative. It would be nice to learn how to craft a classic tune that lasts a lifetime like they have!

Before you go…

A huge thanks to Al for giving us an insight into his amazing new release. We're always looking to hear from our community, so if you want to find out more or have feedback on this release, get in touch.

Here's the full track "Surgeon General", enjoy!

Get to Know: Charlie Robbins

Wednesday 16th October 2019 News

get to know charlie robbins guitarist

Bacon and maple syrup is an unlikely combination. But it works.

New JTC artist, Charlie Robbins, has taken this culinary experimentation into a musical setting. He’s mixed the classic flavours of flamenco with the spice and in your face power of a metal. And like bacon and maple syrups, it works.

We caught up with the man behind Flamenco Inspired Riffs and Licks, to see what he’s all about.

Q: When did you first start playing?

I started playing my freshman year of high school.

Q: When did you discover a love for flamenco?

I’ve always been drawn to the sound of flamenco, but it really hit me when I was in college and Grisha Goryachev visited our class to do a guest appearance in our ensemble and put on a Masterclass. He was literally the nicest guy and the best player I had ever seen in person. During that Masterclass he showed me rasgueado and helped me practice viewing the fretboard in a different way.

Q: And when did you first start playing that in a metal setting?

It was only recently when I started fully trying to blend the two things I really like together. I’ve always put it in my songs before, but I’ve always had the goal to eventually try and make it the whole theme and inspiration for an album. So I finally said I’m going to try it, and Coloratura was the result. There’s a ton more that could have been added or even done better, but I’m still really proud of it.

Q: How would you describe yourself as a player?

As a player I’m not sure how to describe myself. I would say a metal guitarist influenced by many other genres.

Q: Who are your biggest influences?

Guthrie Govan, Synyster and Danny Elfman

Q: Favourite JTC artist?

Guthrie Govan was my first JTC artist I was able to watch and is still my favourite.

Q: Any plans for future JTC releases?

I would love to release more packages in the future. Maybe a Masterclass at some point!

Before you go…

A huge JTC welcome to Charlie Robbins! He’s an amazing addition to our roster and we hope to work with him for a long time coming. If you’re new to his work, we’ve made a mini highlights reel below. All tracks are from his Coloratura EP. Enjoy!

JTC TV is here!

Thursday 14th November 2019 News

JTC TV

JTC TV is here! Over the years, we’ve put out all manner of releases on our YouTube channel. Andy James’s ‘Wind That Shakes The Heart’ has racked millions and millions of views, and our Guthrie sessions arguably launched JTC!

But we’re always up for trying new things, and it gives us great pleasure to launch JTC TV. We start with ‘Ten of the Best’, a look at ten amazing pieces of playing from our fusion archives.

So tell us what you think, and keep an eye out for more new content in the coming months.

Artists featured

An interview with The Aristocrats

Tuesday 3rd December 2019 News

Marco Minnerman Guthrie Govan Bryan Beller The Aristocrats

When it comes to musical experimentation, The Aristocrats are up there with the likes of Frank Zappa, Captain Beefheart and Pink Floyd. Yet what sets them apart is that in Marco Minnermann, Bryan Beller and Guthrie Govan, you have people at the very top of their respective games.

In You Know What…? they have created an enthralling, varied album full of fun ideas to learn and listen to.

So we spoke to Guthrie Govan, Marco Minnermann and Bryan Beller to get the inside track on this amazing piece of work.

Q: Do the live versions of the tracks differ much for the album ones and did you write them with performances in mind?

The Aristocrats: Inevitably the live performances and ”version” of the songs do evolve over time the more we play them, and we think that’s more a function of what we do as a collective musical entity rather than any particular song. Sure, a song like “Get It Like That” is more improvisationally minded than “The Ballad Of Bonnie And Clyde”, but even with those compositional differences accounted for, we’ll always try and find ways to make the live performances fresh and new. 

Q: What part do you find the hardest to play?

The Aristocrats: We really try to focus on executing parts as a band. Sure, every song has its challenges for individual members. Guthrie wrote himself a fairly difficult part in “Spanish Eddie”, the bass chordal melody in “Last Orders” is tough, and Marco has to remember a lot of little things in “The Ballad Of Bonnie And Clyde”. But most of the time the challenge for us is making sure that we can execute things as a unit, and making them sound good. Sometimes that’s more difficult to pull off than just executing a single difficult part, even though we do want to get our own parts right, of course. As a unit, performing live, from this album, the flamenco/metal section of “Spanish Eddie” is probably the biggest challenge in that regard. There’s a whole lot going on there, and we do it in every soundcheck to make sure it will work. Perhaps the jazz section of “When We All Come Together” is a close second. 

Q: Do you intentionally try and make the music challenging in terms of composition or is it a natural thing for you all?

The Aristocrats: We truly don’t try and make music “challenging”, even though we understand that some people appreciate it in this way. If we’ve done it right, it’s supposed to be something you can enjoy as well rather than something *only* to be analyzed and dissected, though that of course has its place for educational and musical growth purposes for anyone willing to dive in. Ideally there’s room for both! Also, humor counts as well. We’d rather have folks laugh and be entertained than try and “blow their heads off,'' so to speak. But again, we understand that they’re not mutually exclusive concepts, and Frank Zappa taught us that long ago.

Q: I know dinosaurs were an influence for the record, but what musical influences were there for the record?

Marco: I personally never think about musical influences whilst writing a song. Yet history and influences are probably subconsciously undeniable and become roots. The bands and artists I grew up on surely must have played a role. Queen, Led Zeppelin, Frank Zappa, Kate Bush, Kraftwerk, Ryuichi Sakamoto, Rush... and many more. But, you somehow learn the letters and words and start forming your own language and speak with own voice, which then maybe will stay in the universe to influence the next generations. I guess that’s important, the never ending road, haha.

Bryan: Just speaking for me on my songs, “All Said And Done” was definitely a Beatles pastiche, converted into an instrumental guitar trio arrangement. No hiding the ball there. “D Grade Fuck Movie Jam” was probably a lot of Jimi Hendrix as seen through the lens of Michael Landau. Perhaps a touch of early Van Halen snuck its way in there as well? “The Ballad Of Bonnie And Clyde” was the most curious one for me. I know the foundation of it was influenced by the Pink Floyd song “Sheep”, and I also realized we didn’t have any mid-tempo galloping rock shuffles in our repertoire. But there’s a whole host of 70s instrumental rock guitarists that probably influenced that one.

Guthrie: “Terrible Lizard”, just as you hinted, was intended to be my sonic representation of a huge dinosaur lumbering around: the glissando lick leading into the “chorus” was intended to mimic the way I imagined that one dinosaur might call out to another, whilst the intro riff was meant to be a crude representation of thunderous footsteps. “Last Orders” is an atypically mournful ballad, which could be taken to represent the general idea that good things don't always last forever - as symbolised by the “last orders” bell which you hear in a traditional English pub just before closing time! As for “Spanish Eddie”… I honestly have no idea where that one came from: the notes just kind of “coagulated” in my head for no apparent reason ;-)

Q: Were there any tracks “left on the cutting floor” that you might revisit later?

The Aristocrats: Not on this album. We generally write specifically for the band and agree in advance which songs will be on the album. Marco is the occasional exception as he writes more often, but this only comes up in terms of choosing which songs we eventually record. We’ve never, in the history of the band, recorded a track that we didn’t use. Make of that what you will. :-)

Q: For learning the guitar parts, what would your main piece of advice be?

Guthrie: I strongly suspect that most of the players reading this will already be familiar with the concept of taking things slowly and prioritising accuracy over speed… if you practice something slowly and perfectly enough times then increasing the speed will ultimately prove to be less challenging!

Thinking more specifically about this package of transcriptions, I would very much encourage players to take some liberties with the notes in certain sections, as the intentions behind the “written” and “improvised” sections in these songs were entirely different. I would say that the “verse/chorus” parts of each track in this package were very deliberately composed and would benefit from some detailed study. The “solo” sections, on the other hand, were all improvised and consequently they feature a few stream-of-consciousness passages where I was just “going for it” - hoping to convey a kind of explosive energy rather than any specific melodic content.

I wouldn’t personally want to memorise every last detail in those “crazier” passages and have to replicate them note-for-note so… I’d say that the way to get the most out of these transcriptions is to use your discretion when tackling the solo sections: it’s probably wisest to focus on learning your favourite licks note-for-note and then trying to look for any useful patterns in terms of note choices which seem to work particularly well over each chord, rather than feeling duty-bound to replicate every minute detail of the original!

In other words: some of these notes probably deserve more of your time than others ;-)

Before you go

A huge thanks to Bryan, Marco and Guthrie for talking to us. For even an even more in-depth look, read our track by track review of You Know What…?

Vacancy: Graphic Designer/Motion Graphics Editor

Tuesday 7th January 2020 News

jtc guitar hiring

We are seeking a talented designer who loves creating effective visual assets throughout the forms of video, branding, print and website elements to join our team at JTC - a fast growing online guitar-based education, production and digital download company.

Working remotely, a significant amount of your time will be spent creating assets for our weekly product releases and to use in social media campaigns. You will be an integral part of our post-production video team, where you will work on everything from product promotional videos to end boards and lower thirds.

You will have a keen eye for design and put your skills to good use, supporting the team with the designs for product release artwork, social media campaigns and elements for the site. You’ll need a good and instinctive understanding of what works on social media, and be able to apply that to both moving and static images. You’ll need to be big on ideas and able to understand a brief quickly and turn it into a visual reality.

For our social campaigns, you’ll need an understanding of how to engage audiences across various social platforms, creating effective content alongside our marketing team. We’re looking for someone who can be involved from the very start, brainstorming ideas for projects and coming up with concepts for campaigns. You’ll have a great balance of working within a creative and supportive team but also having plenty of autonomy to work your own magic.

Requirements and Qualifications:

  • Adobe After Effects - Advanced
  • Adobe Photoshop - Advanced
  • Adobe Premiere Pro - Advanced
  • Adobe Illustrator - Intermediate
  • Adobe InDesign - Intermediate
  • Experience in website design and content development
  • Stellar written and oral communication skills
  • A sharp eye for quality design and ability to create artwork
  • Excellent time management, able to balance many projects at once
  • Interest in guitar would be desirable

There are superb prospects for the right candidate and the chance to join a dynamic and growing company. Starting salary: TBD

Deadline is 17th January 2020. - This position is now filled

For immediate consideration please email your CV to jonny@jtcguitar.com

Get to know: Funtwo

Thursday 16th January 2020 News

get to know funtwo

In 2005 a video was uploaded to YouTube that would go on to inspire people from all around the world to pick up their guitar and play. That video was “Canon Rock” and was performed by South Korean viral legend Funtwo.

Now a JTC artist with a brand new track on offer, we thought we’d get to know him a bit more.

So here he is, Funtwo.

Q: How did you get into playing?

I went to a school camp back when I was 14 and a group of older students with acoustic guitars were playing a cool riff of a song and I fell in love with the sound of the power chord right away. I realized the riff they played was from ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ a few years later. Anyway, coming back from the camp I grabbed a guitar that was stored away at home in the storage and started this journey.

Q: How would you describe your style?

Music with nice melodies! Some of the songs sound like the soundtrack of a video game or anime. I love listening to Bach, Vivaldi and 90s Pop Music. And probably the melodic aspects from those styles may have been influencing me largely.

Q: Canon is of course what launched you as a guitarist. Are you keen to move on from that or is still very much a part of you as a player?

The Canon video kind of forced me to start this career and I feel so grateful about it. Canon Rock is a wonderful rendition, it certainly had a big impact in my life and I still enjoy playing the piece. However I wish my originals could resonate with people as well, since I put more passion and effort to my own stuff nowadays.

Q: What was the inspiration behind the track "Story"?

Thank you for asking this question. There was a period of time last year, when I kept thinking about the fact that every single human being has a different background and unique story. A little random, but I felt diversity and variety is so awesome! And this music I was writing at the time, sounded to me like it was portraying a story of a person. In addition, I added a section in the song that is played with an Indian instrument called Bansuri. It was a fun experiment and I’d love to work with other world instruments in future tracks as well.

Q: What guitars are you playing with right now?

In recent years I’ve been enjoying my Tom Anderson guitars. I still often play the ESP guitar appeared on the Canon video which I’ve been playing for 16 years.

Q: You of course know about viral guitar videos, what’s your opinion on the current crop of viral players such as Manuel Gardner Fernandes, Nathaniel Murphy or Charlie Robbins?

Every time I find these new viral players, I’ve been amazed by their unique style, super chops and musicality. To me the rising players are… are on point with every aspect. Foreseeing the future, I see even more ‘scary’ musicians coming continually. It could be led to some competition but I would rather see it as a fun way to enjoy the different styles. As a guitar fan, I appreciate these artists on the various video platforms as I can easily enjoy their music.

Q: Who are your biggest influences?

People who are passionate about something are the main influences for me to create something. And good music certainly motivates me to make music. Reading a good book is also a big part, as I feel like it gives me some artistic insights.

Q: Favourite JTC artist?

I respect Jack Thammart’s music and himself as a wonderful human being. Marco Sfogli always blows my mind with his music and insane technique. Recently I’ve been enjoying Kit Tang’s beautiful music. I’ve been learning many practical insights from Al Joseph's videos. Last but not least, Jason Kui is such a talented musician and nice dude to hang around.

Any idea for the future with JTC?

20 Melodic Licks would be fun. I’d also love to make Learn to Play packages of my future originals.

Q: Before you go…

A huge thanks to Funtwo for taking the time to answer our questions! Check out his JTC debut and let us know what you think.

Get to know: Igor Paspalj

Wednesday 11th March 2020 News

get to know igor paspalj

Igor Paspalj’s JTC debut, “Full Throttle” is proof that sometimes you’ve just got to shred.

It's got high speed runs, every type of picking you could ask for and is as tight as tight can be. But who is Igor Paspalj?

Before he answers that question, we want to know something...

We've only just taken you on as a JTC artist, how come it's taken us so long?

First of all, thanks for having me as a JTC Artist, I am truly honored!

I guess I never advertised myself that much, and was never very active on social media until recently. I’ve been playing guitar for over 20 years professionally, but I never invested real time or effort to advertise my stuff online to some extent to maybe get eventually noticed by a company like JTC. Luckily, I discovered a JTC “Jam Of The Month'' in December 2019. I entered for fun, and everything kind of picked up from there in a good way!

You became a JTC artist after winning the Jam of the Month, do you think online guitar comps are a good way to get noticed?

Absolutely! In my case, that’s exactly what happened. Even without any ambition of winning it, they are also a great way of just comparing approaches. For example in the JTC “JOTM" where everybody plays over the same track and progression. Everybody can actually improve a lot of things in their own playing; improvisation, musical thinking, and get more creative by just comparing to what other great players do. 

Your JTC debut is shred, is that your main thing as a player?

Since early days of me being present in the guitar community, lots of people were connecting me to pretty much shred only, and earlier it was, but it's not my main thing anymore. At least, lately, the last couple of years, I am always trying to expand as a player, leaning toward some fusion stuff, blues, even country. I have my YouTube channel full of all kinds of takes on everything, but it’s a never-ending, and slow journey, and my playing style changes all the time.

What is your top tip for playing fast?

Huh, not an easy question I can give a really short answer, but general principles of starting slow, and gradually building up speed always seems to work. Of course, it’s not simple as that. There’s a ton of little details and variables included. Having proper technique, relaxed left hand, efficient practice routine, smart practice routine, consistency, and most importantly, patience.

There’s also one thing that I discovered and helped me a lot over the years, which consist of practicing slowly combined with shorter bursts of much faster tempo for the same licks, and rocking back and forth between those two extremes, gradually increasing tempo. You can almost compare it to the P90x gym fitness program!

But that’s maybe a topic for some extensive lesson, or even a Masterclass.

Who are your inspirations?

If we are talking about guitar players, too many too count. But besides obvious guitar legends, and we all know who they are, I am very inspired lately by players such as Guthrie Govan, Mateus Assato, Greg Koch, Tom Quayle…again, there’s more, also too many to count!

Who is your favourite JTC artist?

Well, there are so many great players at JTC, it would be hard to choose only one, but that guy Feodor Dosumov is absolutely from another world! What a player! I am enjoying his playing so much lately, and I am not sure how I failed to get to know about him until just recently. Absolutely shame on me for that.

What next for you at JTC?

Some projects are already aligned for the near future. Beside that, I would like to eventually develop some form of extensive Masterclass about improving technique, efficiency, different practice routines, and a lot of little tips and tricks all related to developing clean and efficient guitar technique that helped me over the years. According to messages I am getting over social media, apparently, that's the main thing that people want to know from my side. Let’s see what the future brings.

Before you go...

Watch the full playthrough of "Full Throttle" below!

Get to know: Jack Gardiner

Friday 20th March 2020 News

jack gardiner bridging masterclass

Some JTC releases come together quickly. They find us or we find them, we agree on a release and in a few months time, out comes some killer content.

Other releases take a lot longer. Jack's addition to the JTC roster has taken around 3 years! But now his Bridging Masterclass is here, we don’t really mind. Here to tell us why it took so damn long, and what it’s all about, is the man himself.

Take it away, Jack!

This release has been a long time coming...what took so long?

Too long - hah! In all seriousness, I think it was a mixture of a few things. Firstly, I took a bit of a step back from the online world for a couple of years for a number of reasons but mainly due to gigging/touring commitments. Secondly - I wasn’t quite sure what to debut with. I get asked a lot of questions about improvisation/phrasing/technique based things, but since the whole R&B and neo-soul styles really became popular, a lot of people want to know how to compose in a modern kind of way. I think this was a logical place to start seeing as it’s such a huge topic. Playing chords has become cool again!

It’s not often a JTC artist debuts with a Masterclass, so what’s it all about?

I guess it’s really about understanding harmony, building chords/triads etc. and being able to interconnect these with single line solo phrases. I’ve tried to start right from the beginning with this kind of stuff, covering all of what I believe to be the fundamental aspects of this style of playing. There are of course some technique-based exercises in there, but it’s really about developing a good understanding of what exactly it is you are playing and what you can to do to expand on this - not just playing by numbers so to speak.

You mention in the promo for it, that players from all backgrounds will find it useful, so metal with neo-soul? What do you mean!?

Haha - has this style already been done? Basically, I think that as rock/metal players, traditionally we don’t tend to see chords that are bigger or more colourful than straight major/minor chords and we tend to stick to a couple of shapes that we learn for each of these. What I’ve tried to do with this package, is to help you understand how to create these more complex chords, and how to create way more voicings without just relying on muscle-memory shapes. Watching neo-soul/R&B type playing can seem really intimidating if you’re a rock/metal player that’s not used to seeing or hearing all of the different chord shapes and sounds. The idea with this is to break the mysticism and give you the tools to develop your own musical ideas in this style. Who knows - maybe you could incorporate it into a metal/neo-soul fusion track!

How can you use the ideas learnt from this in a real life context?

Most of the things that I’ve covered in this Masterclass are ideas/vocab/concepts that I have picked up gigging. I didn’t really know what neo-soul or R&B was until I started gigging professionally around when I was 17/18. Lots of the singers I would work with wanted to play D’Angelo/Erykah Badu/Destiny’s Child covers. Luckily, the other guys in the band were all from a Gospel Background so they would absolutely nail this style. The first few gigs were brutal, but just listening and absorbing language helped me to get through it and develop my own understanding of what’s going on. From my experience, Gospel guys are insanely talented players but sometimes they find it hard to break down exactly what they’re doing - it’s just in their blood so to speak. The goal with this package was to do exactly that - break it down.

If there’s one major takeaway from the Masterclass what is it?

Learning just a few triads/inversions can be a game-changer in the way that you compose if you learn to visualise them quickly. It’s something that keyboard players do naturally, but as guitarists we seem to neglect a little. It can sound super flash, even if technically it’s not so complex.

A bit about you, what are you up to right now?

Currently, I’m quarantined over here in Zermatt. Our whole town shut down the day this Masterclass released - hah! Unfortunately, all of my gigs/tours all the way as far as August are being cancelled. On the plus side, it’s allowing me to focus on some cool projects! I’m currently working on my debut original release. I’m unsure whether this will be an E.P./album or a collection of singles, but the demo’s are shaping up nicely. Other than that, I’m teaching a lot over Skype and I’m working with some super talented players on a few different projects - both covers and originals. I wonder how much new cool music we’re going to hear over the next few months with everything being on lockdown?!

And in the future, what can we expect?

I guess a mix of more lesson content! I’ve always wanted to cover more of my improvisation based playing in more of a rock/fusion sense. I think a “Bridging the Gap” volume 2 is definitely in order too. The content covered in this Masterclass is huge but I feel that I have enough ideas/concepts/language to further expand on it. Other than that, I’m always open to suggestions. If there’s something you want to learn, shoot me a message!

Before you go...

Check out the promo for Jack's JTC debut to find out just what to expect from his incredible Masterclass

Claudio Pietronik: Masterclass Q&A

Friday 15th May 2020 News

claudio-pietronik_masterclass

Use UNLOCK25 for 25% off the full Masterclass
Expires 9am (BST) 3rd June

Chord changes pose a challenge no matter what setting you are in. They are the fork in the road, and if you take the wrong turn, things can often go wrong.

Claudio Pietronik’s latest Masterclass, Unlocking Chord Changes, is a way to learn how to navigate these forks.

So to give you a better insight into the release, is the man himself!

Q: What was the inspiration for this Masterclass?

I decided to create this Masterclass focusing on what for me is the most important thing when improvising, respecting notes of the chords. This would be the key to play cool melodies but also fundamental to create more exciting fast lines!

Q: What is the number one takeaway from this release?

The main purpose of this Masterclass is to give you a different (but not so much) point of view on playing over backing tracks. We have to consider backing tracks and solos as strictly connected. A backing would be more interesting if we respect that and solos can be more interesting if they follow the backing. This would be a great starting point and also a cool way to expand your mental approach for those who already played for years!

Q: Do you think the ideas in the Masterclass work in many different types of music?

Absolutely YES! Genre doesn’t matter. Of course a different genre can require a different stylistic approach but the main concept is the same. Notes of the chords and notes outside the chords. Everything is cool, we just have to know their momentary role!

Q: What was your set up for recording? Our audience always wants to know how to get the same sound as our artists!

For this Masterclass I just used my signature guitar Brea PK6 from Negrini Guitars directly into my Neural Nolly plugin! Then mixed everything from the DAW.

Q: What’s next for you at JTC?

I started working on a big Masterclass expanding this concept of playing through the chords, but through another kind of backing. The first part has already been prepared. Lots of fun here hehe!

Q: Bonus question, why are you so good at hybrid picking?

Ah, ehm, oh….I don’t know! I started playing with that technique because I love this kind of approach to the instrument. I started feeling more control on the strings also from the beginning, so I then just continued doing it but everywhere and in every case! One of the most important things, for me, is to try to apply a technique in every situation, and through improvisation, so you’ll start thinking really soon directly with that and will be easier sooner!

Before you go…

A huge thanks to Claudio for his incredible Masterclass. Check out the video below to find out more!

Get to Know: Connor Kaminski

Tuesday 14th July 2020 News

connor kaminski

If you’re good enough, you’re old enough. That’s often the way with life, and Connor Kaminski is proof of that. At the age of 23, he makes his JTC debut with his “Learn to Play: The Haven” release.

Featuring a 15/8 intro, a bunch of chunky riffs and some very tasty shred, it’s a perfect balance of rhythm and lead.

But who is the young gun behind the groove?

How would you describe yourself as a guitarist?

For the past 2 or 3 years, I’ve been trying to approach the instrument in a much more balanced fashion. When I was younger, I’d utterly focus on speed and nothing else. While at the time, I figured that if I could shred, that meant I must be a good guitarist in theory… I have come to learn that was a wrong way of thinking about it. Now, I really try to use the guitar as a conduit to write truly emotive and meaningful music. I learned quickly that only guitarists/musicians care about a shredding guitar solo but many many more people care about a great, catchy melody. I’ve tried to harness that idea in my approach to guitar and songwriting especially for this EP. I only really start shredding if it serves the emotion of the song at any given point.

What was the inspiration behind “The Haven”?

The “Escapism” EP is about a day in my life. With “The Haven” being the last track, it’s about finishing a day's work and finally getting home to your peaceful place. It’s a celebration where we can claim back our own time to do what we want. That’s why it’s the most energetic and uplifting song on the EP. The end of the song closes out with the 15/8 repeating motif which directly links it back to the start of the EP, namely titled “Restart”. This is to signify that once we go to sleep and wake up again, the 9-5 work life repeats itself.

Is there a reason you went with the e flat tuning for the EP?

I was really struggling with writer's block in E standard and I’d been putting off changing tuning on one of my floating trem guitars for the longest time. It got to a breaking point where I realised two things: it’s really easy to change tuning on a floating trem if you follow the correct steps and second, I could write so much easier in Eb tuning. That’s when I wrote Restart and adapted the intro of Stir-Crazy to be played in Eb so I could finish writing the song. Noon Dreamer and The Haven were written a few days later over the course of a few weeks. I’ll probably stay in Eb standard for a while just for ease of playing the tunes live.

What was it like working with Nick Johnston?

Having Nick play a guest solo on the record is an honour and he truly added his own flavour to the section of music I had in mind for a solo. He was super cool about playing a solo on my record! I remember waking up one morning checking my Instagram messages and I realised he sent me his finished guest solo. I remember smiling whilst listening to it in bed on repeat. To feature a wonderful guitarist like Nick on my music was a surreal moment!

Who are your biggest inspirations?

John Petrucci has to be number one, I don’t think I surprised anyone there. I’ve been a big fan of Plini and Intervals’ music for the longest time as well. Aside from guitarists, I think it’s important to allow yourself to be inspired by things outside of guitar and music. When you let that happen, that’s when the magic and originality happens. I tried to use my daily life as a source of inspiration for my new EP and it eventually became the centre concept of the entire record.

Do you have a favourite JTC artist?

I think Mateus Asato is otherworldly and can embed such raw emotion in his playing that I find mesmerising. I also really dig Lari Basilio for her insane phrasing!

You are still very young and have already made a name for yourself. What plans do you have for the future?

I plan to keep growing and to prove myself to people that might not have heard of me yet. My plans for the future are to increase my listening audience and to get out there and play some live shows perhaps in 2021! Perhaps keep the new music dropping along the way as well as some top secret JTC packs, who knows!

Before you go...

Watch the playthrough of "The Haven" right here.

Your first blues solo

Wednesday 21st September 2011 Knowledge Base

It's a scary thing, but we all have to face it at some time. You're jamming with friends, just taking it easy, when someone goes... "Hey, go on, take a solo!" Oh noooooo! Don't panic, though. We're here to help, and it doesn't have to be too scary. We'd all love to be Guthrie Govan, but that takes time, and even Guthrie had to start with the basics. Most people start off with the minor pentatonic scale. Here's the start of 'Red Onions' from our Jambusters series. The scale being used here is the E minor pentatonic (E G A B D) and this is such a simple line, but it's melodic...

For the full track check out our Jambusters Series 1 

Also in the spirit of keeping things simple, don't be afraid to think rhythmically... instead of playing all the notes in the scale, try and do as much as possible with every short phrase. Vary the rhythms, play long notes and short notes... squeeze as much as you can out of those notes! Here's a line from the Billy Gibbons style solo in our Total Blues series...

For the full track check out our Total Blues Series 2 

Remember, there are loads of ways of getting more variety from a simple lick. Use hammer-ons, pull-offs, slides and bends. If you play the same note on two different strings, you'll get a different tone, and you can vary the tone by picking closer to the bridge or closer to the neck. Be creative! Here's 'Strut Blues' from Jambusters, showing some of these ideas on a simple E minor pentatonic line...

For the full track check out our Jambusters Series 2 

Above all, don't try to be too clever at first. The main thing is to have fun and make the music FEEL good. Don't be afraid to take a simple line and play it like you want to kill it! Here's the Hendrix style solo from our Rock Blues package...

For the full track check out our Rock Blues Series

Your first blues solo

Wednesday 21st September 2011 Knowledge Base

It's a scary thing, but we all have to face it at some time. You're jamming with friends, just taking it easy, when someone goes... "Hey, go on, take a solo!" Oh noooooo! Don't panic, though. We're here to help, and it doesn't have to be too scary. We'd all love to be Guthrie Govan, but that takes time, and even Guthrie had to start with the basics. Most people start off with the minor pentatonic scale. Here's the start of 'Red Onions' from our Jambusters series. The scale being used here is the E minor pentatonic (E G A B D) and this is such a simple line, but it's melodic...

For the full track check out our Jambusters Series 1 

Also in the spirit of keeping things simple, don't be afraid to think rhythmically... instead of playing all the notes in the scale, try and do as much as possible with every short phrase. Vary the rhythms, play long notes and short notes... squeeze as much as you can out of those notes! Here's a line from the Billy Gibbons style solo in our Total Blues series...

For the full track check out our Total Blues Series 2 

Remember, there are loads of ways of getting more variety from a simple lick. Use hammer-ons, pull-offs, slides and bends. If you play the same note on two different strings, you'll get a different tone, and you can vary the tone by picking closer to the bridge or closer to the neck. Be creative! Here's 'Strut Blues' from Jambusters, showing some of these ideas on a simple E minor pentatonic line...

For the full track check out our Jambusters Series 2 

Above all, don't try to be too clever at first. The main thing is to have fun and make the music FEEL good. Don't be afraid to take a simple line and play it like you want to kill it! Here's the Hendrix style solo from our Rock Blues package...

For the full track check out our Rock Blues Series

Your first blues solo

Wednesday 21st September 2011 Knowledge Base

It's a scary thing, but we all have to face it at some time. You're jamming with friends, just taking it easy, when someone goes... "Hey, go on, take a solo!" Oh noooooo! Don't panic, though. We're here to help, and it doesn't have to be too scary. We'd all love to be Guthrie Govan, but that takes time, and even Guthrie had to start with the basics. Most people start off with the minor pentatonic scale. Here's the start of 'Red Onions' from our Jambusters series. The scale being used here is the E minor pentatonic (E G A B D) and this is such a simple line, but it's melodic...

For the full track check out our Jambusters Series 1 

Also in the spirit of keeping things simple, don't be afraid to think rhythmically... instead of playing all the notes in the scale, try and do as much as possible with every short phrase. Vary the rhythms, play long notes and short notes... squeeze as much as you can out of those notes! Here's a line from the Billy Gibbons style solo in our Total Blues series...

For the full track check out our Total Blues Series 2 

Remember, there are loads of ways of getting more variety from a simple lick. Use hammer-ons, pull-offs, slides and bends. If you play the same note on two different strings, you'll get a different tone, and you can vary the tone by picking closer to the bridge or closer to the neck. Be creative! Here's 'Strut Blues' from Jambusters, showing some of these ideas on a simple E minor pentatonic line...

For the full track check out our Jambusters Series 2 

Above all, don't try to be too clever at first. The main thing is to have fun and make the music FEEL good. Don't be afraid to take a simple line and play it like you want to kill it! Here's the Hendrix style solo from our Rock Blues package...

For the full track check out our Rock Blues Series

Beyond the pentatonic box

Thursday 29th September 2011 Knowledge Base

Most people play their first solos using the minor pentatonic scale, usually with a simple 'box' shape. Here's the most common one, showing the A minor pentatonic at the 5th fret...

 

The great thing about box shapes is that you can move them to different positions, to suit the song you're playing. For a solo in D minor, you'd move to the 10th fret, or for G minor, you'd move to the 3rd fret. Lots of classic solos have used simple shapes like this. But why restrict yourself? By learning a scale over a wider area of the fretboard, you can create a lot more licks! Here are three easy ways to expand your pentatonic playing, all using examples from our Jambusters 1 series... The easiest thing to do is to drop down two frets on the low E and A strings. This gives you a little four-note mini pattern, and you can slide in and out of this pattern on the A string. That's exactly what happens on this excerpt from 'Spirited Blues'. We're in E minor, so the basic box shape is at the 12th fret.

 

We can also stretch the box shape upwards, and there's a great little triangular shape on the high E, B and G strings. A very common way of moving in and out of this mini shape is to slide up and down on the G string, as you'll see in this example from 'Reggae Blues'. This is in C# minor, and the basic box is at the 9th fret. You can also bend that top note (14th fret) to go even higher.

Let's try something a little bit more advanced. So far, we've just been adding notes to the basic box shape to stretch it, but there are whole other box shapes all over the fretboard. The one shown above has its root note on the E string... for instance, if you want to play B minor pentatonic, you find the B note on the low E string (it's at the 7th fret) and play the box shape in that position. This shape has its root note on the A string, so the position for B minor pentatonic is at the 2nd fret...

 

So you now have two whole box shapes you can use! Making use of these two shapes means that you need to learn the notes on the A and E strings, but that's worth the effort... the same system is used for locating barre chords. Here's the new shape in action, in an excerpt from 'Bullet Blues'...

Beyond the pentatonic box

Thursday 29th September 2011 Knowledge Base

Most people play their first solos using the minor pentatonic scale, usually with a simple 'box' shape. Here's the most common one, showing the A minor pentatonic at the 5th fret...

 

The great thing about box shapes is that you can move them to different positions, to suit the song you're playing. For a solo in D minor, you'd move to the 10th fret, or for G minor, you'd move to the 3rd fret. Lots of classic solos have used simple shapes like this. But why restrict yourself? By learning a scale over a wider area of the fretboard, you can create a lot more licks! Here are three easy ways to expand your pentatonic playing, all using examples from our Jambusters 1 series... The easiest thing to do is to drop down two frets on the low E and A strings. This gives you a little four-note mini pattern, and you can slide in and out of this pattern on the A string. That's exactly what happens on this excerpt from 'Spirited Blues'. We're in E minor, so the basic box shape is at the 12th fret.

 

We can also stretch the box shape upwards, and there's a great little triangular shape on the high E, B and G strings. A very common way of moving in and out of this mini shape is to slide up and down on the G string, as you'll see in this example from 'Reggae Blues'. This is in C# minor, and the basic box is at the 9th fret. You can also bend that top note (14th fret) to go even higher.

Let's try something a little bit more advanced. So far, we've just been adding notes to the basic box shape to stretch it, but there are whole other box shapes all over the fretboard. The one shown above has its root note on the E string... for instance, if you want to play B minor pentatonic, you find the B note on the low E string (it's at the 7th fret) and play the box shape in that position. This shape has its root note on the A string, so the position for B minor pentatonic is at the 2nd fret...

 

So you now have two whole box shapes you can use! Making use of these two shapes means that you need to learn the notes on the A and E strings, but that's worth the effort... the same system is used for locating barre chords. Here's the new shape in action, in an excerpt from 'Bullet Blues'...

Beyond the pentatonic box

Thursday 29th September 2011 Knowledge Base

Most people play their first solos using the minor pentatonic scale, usually with a simple 'box' shape. Here's the most common one, showing the A minor pentatonic at the 5th fret...

 

The great thing about box shapes is that you can move them to different positions, to suit the song you're playing. For a solo in D minor, you'd move to the 10th fret, or for G minor, you'd move to the 3rd fret. Lots of classic solos have used simple shapes like this. But why restrict yourself? By learning a scale over a wider area of the fretboard, you can create a lot more licks! Here are three easy ways to expand your pentatonic playing, all using examples from our Jambusters 1 series... The easiest thing to do is to drop down two frets on the low E and A strings. This gives you a little four-note mini pattern, and you can slide in and out of this pattern on the A string. That's exactly what happens on this excerpt from 'Spirited Blues'. We're in E minor, so the basic box shape is at the 12th fret.

 

We can also stretch the box shape upwards, and there's a great little triangular shape on the high E, B and G strings. A very common way of moving in and out of this mini shape is to slide up and down on the G string, as you'll see in this example from 'Reggae Blues'. This is in C# minor, and the basic box is at the 9th fret. You can also bend that top note (14th fret) to go even higher.

Let's try something a little bit more advanced. So far, we've just been adding notes to the basic box shape to stretch it, but there are whole other box shapes all over the fretboard. The one shown above has its root note on the E string... for instance, if you want to play B minor pentatonic, you find the B note on the low E string (it's at the 7th fret) and play the box shape in that position. This shape has its root note on the A string, so the position for B minor pentatonic is at the 2nd fret...

 

So you now have two whole box shapes you can use! Making use of these two shapes means that you need to learn the notes on the A and E strings, but that's worth the effort... the same system is used for locating barre chords. Here's the new shape in action, in an excerpt from 'Bullet Blues'...

Jazzy Jams Series Inside Guide

Thursday 15th December 2011 Knowledge Base

The Jazzy Jams series has been created by Alex specifically to help you improve your Jazz by improvising over some of the most popular chord progressions played by millions of musicians around the world. The following is a guide to which famous tunes the Jazzy Jams series are based upon. This series is also progressive, so if you’re new to chord changes then ‘Night train to Chicago’ and Series 1 is where you should start and then work your way up to series 3. If you are a more experienced player then choose any (or all!) of Alex's Jazzy Jams Series and learn Alex’s Solo’s as well as trying out your own ideas.

The idea is to try to memorize all progressions which will then enable you to play and jam with other Jazz musicians that also know and have memorized them. So let's look at which classic tracks Alex has based his series on with his own little twist. Here is the track breakdown:

'Night Train To Chicago' - 'C Minor Blues/Equinox' by John Coltrane

Jazzy Jams Series 1

'So What Do you Say' - 'So What' by Miles Davis

'She's Got Rhythm' - I've Got Rhythm by George Gershwin

'Brand New Bounce' - 'Billy's Bounce' by Charlie Parker

Jazzy Jams Series 2

'Autumn Trees' - Autumn Leaves by Joseph Kosma

'Blue City' - 'Blue Bossa' by Kenny Dorham

'All The Best Things' - 'All The Things You Are' by Jerome Kern

Jazzy Jams Series 3

'Inner Moment' - 'Inner Urge' by Joe Henderson

'Me and Miss T' - 'Misty' by Erroll Garner

'Joans Diary' - 'Have You Met Miss Jones' by Richard Rodgers

Alex Hutchings' Jazzy Jams Series 1-3 are available NOW!

Smooth Grooves Gear Setup

Friday 20th July 2012 Knowledge Base

Dave Lockwood's Smooth Grooves series has been a wonderfully well received set of jam tracks. To help your quest to get the right sound for these early Larry Carlton sounding jam tracks, here is a breakdown of exactly what gear Dave used for each track.

All tracks are using a Fender 62 reissue Strat, except for Outside In, which is a 52 reissue Tele, and Parallax, which is a Les Paul Custom. The main amp is a Hughes & Kettner Statesman Dual 6L6, using the Drive channel always, even for the cleaner sounds. This drives a single Eminence 10" Alnico speaker in a sealed cabinet, miked with an AKG Solidtube large-diaphragm condenser. Dave monitor's reverb and delay whilst playing, but doesn't generally record it, preferring to maintain the flexibility at mixdown. The effects used on the guitar in the mix are Logic's stereo delay, and Universal Audio's Lexicon 224 plug-in. Anamorphic — Strat, middle and neck pickup combination; AnalogMan compressor pedal; H&K amp; sealed cab. Smooth Grooves Anamorphic Preview

Discoteca Potenza — Strat, bridge pickup; SansAmp Classic pedal DIed, using the Hot-rodded Marshall setting from the manual (I was reviewing it for SOS at the time and rather liked it). Smooth Grooves Discoteca Potenza Preview

Figueroa — Strat, bridge pickup; Fulltone OCD pedal in Hipass (Marshall) mode; H&K amp, sealed cab. Smooth Grooves Figueroa Preview

Gone So Long — Strat, bridge pickup; Fulltone OCD pedal in Hipass (Marshall) mode; H&K amp, sealed cab. Smooth Grooves Gone So Long Preview

Hot Wired — Strat, bridge pickup; SansAmp Classic pedal DIed. Smooth Grooves Hot Wired Preview

Make It So — Strat, bridge pickup; Fulltone OCD pedal in Hipass (Marshall) mode; H&K amp, sealed cab. Smooth Grooves Make It So Preview

Outside In — Tele, bridge pickup; H&K amp, sealed cab. Smooth Grooves Outside In Preview

Parallax — Les Paul, neck pickup (A part), bridge pickup (B part); H&K amp, sealed cab. Smooth Grooves Parallax Preview

Snake Oil — Strat, bridge and middle pickup combination; H&K amp, sealed cab. Smooth Grooves Snake Oil Preview

Some Time Soon — Strat, neck pickup; AnalogMan compressor pedal; H&K amp; sealed cab. Smooth Grooves Some Time Soon Preview

Smooth Grooves is available for £14.99. 

GG's Axe-FX Settings

Tuesday 24th July 2012 Knowledge Base

For the many thousands of you that have watched or purchased Guthrie Govan's 'The Late Night Sessions 2' series then you will most probably have noticed that he is using the incredible Fractal Audio Systems Axe-FX II throughout.

Now, we imagine that many of you would be thinking just how we got those incredible sounds out of Guthrie's guitar. Of course, the player helps....but, due to the power of this incredible unit we took a few of the simplest factory presets and modified each of them with just one basic tweak - i.e. removing all the reverb and delay so that we would have the option of adding those effects separately (with outboard gear or plugins) which we did for the final mixes. Just a touch of delay and reverb was all that was required. So, here are the factory presets used for each track:

East City Central Lights - Friedman HBE

The Open Highway - Friedman HBE

Seal The Feel - Plexi Treble

The Best of Times - USA Lead

Time to Let Her Go - Class A 15Watts TB

We hope to get the SysEx files for Axe FX customers who have both the new package download and an Axe-FX II in the near future, so keep an eyes out on the newlsetters for this. And for those that have not yet got their copy of the Late Night Sessions 2...what are you waiting for?!?

Vintage Blues Series Notes

Tuesday 2nd October 2012 Knowledge Base

Last week we released the incredible new 10 track Vintage Blues series by Paul Harvey. Here, Paul breaks down each track to help you get the best out of learning to play the solos in this series, as well as approaching your own improvisations.  

Cloud Bathing - Melody is king in this melodic Fleetwood Mac inspired  tune. The ethereal atmosphere and percussive elements create the perfect backdrop for the memorable top line.This is a great tune to improve your vibrato and general expression in your playing.  

The Conjurer - Another Fleetwood Mac inspired tune with a mid tempo rhythm and almost "latin" feel. The beginning of the track will make you focus on the melodic and as the tempo increases, the upbeat backing will allow you to make your notes sing over the top of the ascending sequence.

Axis -  A classic blues progression with a mid tempo shuffle feel. By using controlled blues licks and note bending at the start of the tune, you can gradually build your solo using higher octaves to reach a crescendo. Then by returning to the melodic licks, you can achieve more dynamics in your playing.  

Crossing the River - A Blues Gospel style ballad which is so cool to play over. Leaving space between your licks is so effective here. Those gaps between phrases can seriously enable you to confidently build the solo.You are quite literally taking the role of the vocalist and by employing these techniques you will make the melody strong and expressive.  

Speedway Blues - This has an uptempo bouncy groove where the solo guitar can really dig in. Think power trio, where the bass and drums are holding down a solid groove urging you to let loose and burn!  

Over the Wall -  A confident sounding backing track which puts you the soloist firmly in control. Paul Kossoff style licks work so well over this solid groove.  

Fault Line -  I've used that famous 'Out of Phase' Strat sound on this swinging blues progression. This sound will give you a glassy and dynamic tone which is so expressive in these type of arrangements. Melodies are easily achievable here by simply using the trusty old pentatonic scale.  

Party Animal - Riff driven 'US Cop Show' style blues in C sharp minor. The feel is more open here which encourages a rhythmic approach to soloing and will help you develop your note bending skills.  

Hustler - Modern lazy blues shuffle in G major. Grown up confident licks work so well over this sophisticated groove.  

Steam Driven - Delta style blues with a twist. A combination of minor and major sections give light and shade making effective use of the pentatonic scales employed.  

For these tracks I used a late '70's Tokai Stratocaster Style guitar with a Seymour Duncan humbucking bridge pick up and all the amps sounds came from a GNX 3000 guitar workstation.   I'm sure that you will find these tracks just as enjoyable, inspiring and challenging to play with as I did. Can't wait to see you on Youtube using them!   Cheers   Paul Harvey  

Dominants And Altered Dominants

Monday 14th January 2013 Knowledge Base

ALL ABOUT DOMINANTS AND ALTERED DOMINANTS

We hope you've been enjoying the new debut package by the mysterious guitar guru known as The Oracle.

You might have noticed that a couple of the tracks are specifically about dominant and altered dominant chords. There wasn't space for a lot of detail in the PDF included with the package, so we thought we'd tell you a bit more in this free bonus lesson. We're going to show you the (musical) meaning of dominant and how an altered dominant is created.

DOMINANT

We'll start with the genuine Official Music Theory Police definition...

In any key, only one chord is called the dominant... the one built on the 5th note of the major scale. This is always a major triad and if you extend it, the 7th is always minor. In the key of G major, the dominant chord is D and the dominant 7th is D7.

Counting from the D note (the root of the chord) that gives us a major 3rd, a perfect 5th and a minor 7th.

(If you don't know how chords are related to scales, or what 'diatonic' means, check out our previous lessons, In Search of the Right Chord and More Searching for the Right Chord.)

In practice, we all became lazy with the terminology. Most people refer to any 7 chord as a 'dominant 7th'. We have major 7ths, minor 7ths and dominant 7ths. And we can extend that to cover all chords with a major 3rd and a minor 7th...

See? They all have the F# (major 3rd) and C (minor 7th) but they gradually get more notes, always added a 3rd above the previous one, always sticking to notes from the scale (that's what diatonic means).

All those chords are described as dominant chords, and if you want some cool ideas for soloing over dominant chords, check out the track Dominant Nature in the first package from The Oracle!

ALTERED DOMINANTS

Don't worry... if you understood the stuff about standard dominant chords, this bit is easy!

An altered dominant is created by raising or lowering one note by a half-tone. This is always the 5th or the 9th, so we have four basic types of altered dominant...

It's standard practice to leave out the 5th in dominant chords (especially on guitar, when you have limited fingers and strings). However, if the 5th is altered, it MUST be included. Altered chords can also include all the other dominant extensions and more than one altered note, so you could have D13b9 or D7#5#9... beautiful complex jazz chords.

In the first Oracle package, the lesson Altered Reality shows how the Superlocrian scale can be used to solo over altered dominant chords. Trust us, it sounds great!

JTC Tab Guide

Thursday 17th January 2013 Knowledge Base

The Jam Track Central Tab Guide

All of our Tab transcriptions and lesson notes are in PDF format. This universal format can be viewed in Acrobat Reader (Mac/PC/Linux) or Preview (Mac only).

Most of our Tabs are also in Powertab (.ptb) format. The Powertab Editor program is only available for Windows, but it has a MIDI playback facility so you can play the notes (with a synthesizer sound) and you can adjust the tempo for more effective practising.

Mac users can open the Powertab files adequately with Tuxguitar.  If you prefer to use Guitar Pro (on PC or Mac) this program can very easily import Powertab files into .gp5 format.

Here is a Tab guide which shows you what each of the note symbols mean (you can download the full size version by right clicking on the image and choosing save to PC): 

Play like Guthrie!

Friday 2nd September 2011 Hints And Tips

We'll be absolutely honest... we can't make you play like Guthrie. We can show you some cool licks and explain the theory, but we can't recreate the years and years of practising, listening, composing, recording, experimenting and everything else that have made Guthrie the player he is today. What we can do is show you some of the main aspects of Guthrie's playing, to give you some ideas of what makes the Guthrie Govan sound.  

MASTER THAT PICK!

It's well worth putting in the hours developing a solid alternate picking technique. You don't have to use it for blazing up and down endless harmonic minor scales; the technique gives you more freedom to make your own sounds. The important thing is being able to cross from string to string without losing the flow... sometimes this will be on an upstroke, sometimes a downstroke. You have to be ready for all combinations, and the only way to do this is PRACTISE! Check out this excerpt from 'Along the Tracks'...

DON'T FORGET THE BLUES

Guthrie is a master of complex fusion, but his playing is never sterile... he never loses sight of how much music history is based on the blues. Learning from the blues doesn't mean you have to play all those cliché licks over a 12-bar sequence in A... be creative! Listen to singers, slide guitarists, saxophonists, pianists. Learn as many licks as you can, and listen carefully to how they make use of phrasing and the space between the notes. In this excerpt from 'Trial By Fire', Guthrie uses double stops, muted ghost notes, subtle bends, open strings and lots of space!

POSITION SENSE

One of the reasons people become bored with their own playing is because they use the same scale shapes all the time. It's very important that you learn the notes over the ENTIRE fretboard. Every shape, every position, every string has its own sound, and the more sounds you have, the more interesting your playing will be. Check out this excerpt from 'Arctic Roll'... 

BEND THOSE STRINGS!

We all know how to bend the strings, right? Well, prepare to be amazed by Guthrie's bending prowess. Instead of picking those safe old notes from the pentatonic, Guthrie finds ways of bending any note in any scale, pushing them up a halftone, a quarter tone, two tones, three tones... sometimes right off the neck! Here's a cool passage from the Albert King Custom solo, where Guthrie uses a wide variety of bends, even doing three different bends on the same sustaining note.

 

BE CREATIVE!

Finally, the most important lesson you can learn from Guthrie is to keep learning. Try everything... new techniques, new scales, new chords, new styles of music. Keep listening, and keep experimenting. Don't be afraid to dig in and be aggressive, and don't be afraid to try the most ridiculous note or lick. Try this line from 'Bullet Blues'... the sound of one of the world's best players improvising with sheer abandon! 

Play like Guthrie!

Friday 2nd September 2011 Hints And Tips

We'll be absolutely honest... we can't make you play like Guthrie. We can show you some cool licks and explain the theory, but we can't recreate the years and years of practising, listening, composing, recording, experimenting and everything else that have made Guthrie the player he is today. What we can do is show you some of the main aspects of Guthrie's playing, to give you some ideas of what makes the Guthrie Govan sound.  

MASTER THAT PICK!

It's well worth putting in the hours developing a solid alternate picking technique. You don't have to use it for blazing up and down endless harmonic minor scales; the technique gives you more freedom to make your own sounds. The important thing is being able to cross from string to string without losing the flow... sometimes this will be on an upstroke, sometimes a downstroke. You have to be ready for all combinations, and the only way to do this is PRACTISE! Check out this excerpt from 'Along the Tracks'...

DON'T FORGET THE BLUES

Guthrie is a master of complex fusion, but his playing is never sterile... he never loses sight of how much music history is based on the blues. Learning from the blues doesn't mean you have to play all those cliché licks over a 12-bar sequence in A... be creative! Listen to singers, slide guitarists, saxophonists, pianists. Learn as many licks as you can, and listen carefully to how they make use of phrasing and the space between the notes. In this excerpt from 'Trial By Fire', Guthrie uses double stops, muted ghost notes, subtle bends, open strings and lots of space!

POSITION SENSE

One of the reasons people become bored with their own playing is because they use the same scale shapes all the time. It's very important that you learn the notes over the ENTIRE fretboard. Every shape, every position, every string has its own sound, and the more sounds you have, the more interesting your playing will be. Check out this excerpt from 'Arctic Roll'... 

BEND THOSE STRINGS!

We all know how to bend the strings, right? Well, prepare to be amazed by Guthrie's bending prowess. Instead of picking those safe old notes from the pentatonic, Guthrie finds ways of bending any note in any scale, pushing them up a halftone, a quarter tone, two tones, three tones... sometimes right off the neck! Here's a cool passage from the Albert King Custom solo, where Guthrie uses a wide variety of bends, even doing three different bends on the same sustaining note.

 

BE CREATIVE!

Finally, the most important lesson you can learn from Guthrie is to keep learning. Try everything... new techniques, new scales, new chords, new styles of music. Keep listening, and keep experimenting. Don't be afraid to dig in and be aggressive, and don't be afraid to try the most ridiculous note or lick. Try this line from 'Bullet Blues'... the sound of one of the world's best players improvising with sheer abandon! 

Swing for beginners

Thursday 13th October 2011 Hints And Tips

If you've downloaded Denny Ilett's fantastic new 'Jazzin' the Blues' package, you'll be hearing a whole new sound for Jam Track Central... SWING. Swing was the pop music of the 1930s and 1940s, and both jazz and blues players absorbed influences from the swing style. The primary blues player associated with swing is of course T-Bone Walker, and you can hear lots of his sound in Denny's solos and jam tracks. But the word 'swing' means more than just a style of old dance music. It's a whole approach to RHYTHM that can be applied to all styles of music. In fact, we're going to show you how it works with reference to two very modern guitar heroes... our buddies Alex Hutchings and Guthrie Govan! Start off by listening to the beginning of 'March of the Machines' from Alex's Custom Fusion 2 package. Pay attention to the heavy riff shown in the Tab below...  

 

Got that? Hear the drums pounding away, in 4/4 time? And the guitar riff is made up mostly of half-beats... 'dubba-dubba dubba-dub ba-dubba-dubba-dub'? Hold that thought and listen to this clip from 'Tipsy Gypsy', taken from Guthrie's new Vintage Modern package. It's a totally different style, but listen to what the guitar is playing in relation to the background drum beat...   

OK, so we've got the drums playing in 4/4 again. And once again, the guitar is largely playing two notes per beat, but there's no 'dubba-dubba' this time. It's more like 'shooby-dooby'. It's lop-sided, with the 'shoo' and the 'doo' lasting longer than the '-by'. This, ladies and gentlemen, is SWING! Here's how it works. Without swing, we're dealing with 'straight' time. The most natural way to subdivide a beat is to cut it into two halves (called 8th notes) or four quarters (called 16th notes). The halves and quarters are all exactly the same size...   

 

With swing, the most natural way to subdivide a beat is into three equal parts (called triplets). Although we can still create lots of different rhythms by combining long notes and short notes, the whole sound changes because of the triplet feel. And if we play the first and third note of each triplet, we get that classic 'swing 8th' feel. Instead of splitting the beat in half, we have a longer note and a shorter note. Shooby-dooby!   

One last thing. You remember how we started off cutting the beat into 8th notes and 16th notes? Well, you can have swing 16ths too. It's the same principle, except a beat is split into a whole 'shooby-dooby' and not just 'shooby'! Here's a clip of Alex playing in a 16th note swing feel in 'So What Do You Say?', taken from his series Jazzy Jams 1...

 

 

Swing for beginners

Thursday 13th October 2011 Hints And Tips

If you've downloaded Denny Ilett's fantastic new 'Jazzin' the Blues' package, you'll be hearing a whole new sound for Jam Track Central... SWING. Swing was the pop music of the 1930s and 1940s, and both jazz and blues players absorbed influences from the swing style. The primary blues player associated with swing is of course T-Bone Walker, and you can hear lots of his sound in Denny's solos and jam tracks. But the word 'swing' means more than just a style of old dance music. It's a whole approach to RHYTHM that can be applied to all styles of music. In fact, we're going to show you how it works with reference to two very modern guitar heroes... our buddies Alex Hutchings and Guthrie Govan! Start off by listening to the beginning of 'March of the Machines' from Alex's Custom Fusion 2 package. Pay attention to the heavy riff shown in the Tab below...  

 

Got that? Hear the drums pounding away, in 4/4 time? And the guitar riff is made up mostly of half-beats... 'dubba-dubba dubba-dub ba-dubba-dubba-dub'? Hold that thought and listen to this clip from 'Tipsy Gypsy', taken from Guthrie's new Vintage Modern package. It's a totally different style, but listen to what the guitar is playing in relation to the background drum beat...   

OK, so we've got the drums playing in 4/4 again. And once again, the guitar is largely playing two notes per beat, but there's no 'dubba-dubba' this time. It's more like 'shooby-dooby'. It's lop-sided, with the 'shoo' and the 'doo' lasting longer than the '-by'. This, ladies and gentlemen, is SWING! Here's how it works. Without swing, we're dealing with 'straight' time. The most natural way to subdivide a beat is to cut it into two halves (called 8th notes) or four quarters (called 16th notes). The halves and quarters are all exactly the same size...   

 

With swing, the most natural way to subdivide a beat is into three equal parts (called triplets). Although we can still create lots of different rhythms by combining long notes and short notes, the whole sound changes because of the triplet feel. And if we play the first and third note of each triplet, we get that classic 'swing 8th' feel. Instead of splitting the beat in half, we have a longer note and a shorter note. Shooby-dooby!   

One last thing. You remember how we started off cutting the beat into 8th notes and 16th notes? Well, you can have swing 16ths too. It's the same principle, except a beat is split into a whole 'shooby-dooby' and not just 'shooby'! Here's a clip of Alex playing in a 16th note swing feel in 'So What Do You Say?', taken from his series Jazzy Jams 1...

 

 

Swing for beginners

Thursday 13th October 2011 Hints And Tips

If you've downloaded Denny Ilett's fantastic new 'Jazzin' the Blues' package, you'll be hearing a whole new sound for Jam Track Central... SWING. Swing was the pop music of the 1930s and 1940s, and both jazz and blues players absorbed influences from the swing style. The primary blues player associated with swing is of course T-Bone Walker, and you can hear lots of his sound in Denny's solos and jam tracks. But the word 'swing' means more than just a style of old dance music. It's a whole approach to RHYTHM that can be applied to all styles of music. In fact, we're going to show you how it works with reference to two very modern guitar heroes... our buddies Alex Hutchings and Guthrie Govan! Start off by listening to the beginning of 'March of the Machines' from Alex's Custom Fusion 2 package. Pay attention to the heavy riff shown in the Tab below...  

 

Got that? Hear the drums pounding away, in 4/4 time? And the guitar riff is made up mostly of half-beats... 'dubba-dubba dubba-dub ba-dubba-dubba-dub'? Hold that thought and listen to this clip from 'Tipsy Gypsy', taken from Guthrie's new Vintage Modern package. It's a totally different style, but listen to what the guitar is playing in relation to the background drum beat...   

OK, so we've got the drums playing in 4/4 again. And once again, the guitar is largely playing two notes per beat, but there's no 'dubba-dubba' this time. It's more like 'shooby-dooby'. It's lop-sided, with the 'shoo' and the 'doo' lasting longer than the '-by'. This, ladies and gentlemen, is SWING! Here's how it works. Without swing, we're dealing with 'straight' time. The most natural way to subdivide a beat is to cut it into two halves (called 8th notes) or four quarters (called 16th notes). The halves and quarters are all exactly the same size...   

 

With swing, the most natural way to subdivide a beat is into three equal parts (called triplets). Although we can still create lots of different rhythms by combining long notes and short notes, the whole sound changes because of the triplet feel. And if we play the first and third note of each triplet, we get that classic 'swing 8th' feel. Instead of splitting the beat in half, we have a longer note and a shorter note. Shooby-dooby!   

One last thing. You remember how we started off cutting the beat into 8th notes and 16th notes? Well, you can have swing 16ths too. It's the same principle, except a beat is split into a whole 'shooby-dooby' and not just 'shooby'! Here's a clip of Alex playing in a 16th note swing feel in 'So What Do You Say?', taken from his series Jazzy Jams 1...

 

 

In search of the right chord

Thursday 20th October 2011 Hints And Tips

When people start writing their own songs, they often get stuck because they don't know which notes and chords sound good together. It's great when you can write a fully formed song by ear, but in reality we usually have to take simple ideas and work at them... swapping chords around, trying different alternatives. This process is a lot quicker if you know some music theory! If you've already started writing melodies or riffs, you're probably using a scale. Let's use the G major scale...

 

Now, a scale isn't just a bunch of notes for playing solos... it's a whole MUSICAL WORLD! Every scale also has a set of chords that usually sound pretty good together. There are no guarantees, but it's better than making wild guesses. The chords follow a standard pattern for every scale, and this is called the 'Diatonic Sequence'.

 

Those chords only use notes from the G major scale. You could make up chord progressions using those chords and build melodies and riffs over the top using the scale notes (or vice versa). You might not get perfection right away, but the results shouldn't sound too terrible. Take note of that sequence: major, minor, minor, major, major, minor, diminished. It's the same for EVERY SINGLE major scale. All twelve of them. Let's take E major as an example. The notes are E F# G# A B C# D#, and the diatonic chords are therefore... E major - F# minor - G# minor - A major - B major - C# minor - D# diminished Or check out Jack Thammarat's amazing instrumental 'Tokyo Trip', available as an exclusive download package from our online store. This song is in the key of E major, so Jack has used the E major scale for his cool melodies, and the chords from the E diatonic sequence for the chords. Here's a section from the verse...

   

All the notes in the lead part and the chords are from the E major scale. The A/E chord just means you're playing an A chord, but with an E note in the bass. Here's another clip from later on...   

Again, all the chords are in the list above, but as you can see, they're all 7th chords. We'll look at those in the next lesson, but for now, have a look at the whole video for Jack's track. Remember, you can buy the package from our online store, and it includes high-quality video, audio, backing track and full Tab!

 

In search of the right chord

Thursday 20th October 2011 Hints And Tips

When people start writing their own songs, they often get stuck because they don't know which notes and chords sound good together. It's great when you can write a fully formed song by ear, but in reality we usually have to take simple ideas and work at them... swapping chords around, trying different alternatives. This process is a lot quicker if you know some music theory! If you've already started writing melodies or riffs, you're probably using a scale. Let's use the G major scale...

 

Now, a scale isn't just a bunch of notes for playing solos... it's a whole MUSICAL WORLD! Every scale also has a set of chords that usually sound pretty good together. There are no guarantees, but it's better than making wild guesses. The chords follow a standard pattern for every scale, and this is called the 'Diatonic Sequence'.

 

Those chords only use notes from the G major scale. You could make up chord progressions using those chords and build melodies and riffs over the top using the scale notes (or vice versa). You might not get perfection right away, but the results shouldn't sound too terrible. Take note of that sequence: major, minor, minor, major, major, minor, diminished. It's the same for EVERY SINGLE major scale. All twelve of them. Let's take E major as an example. The notes are E F# G# A B C# D#, and the diatonic chords are therefore... E major - F# minor - G# minor - A major - B major - C# minor - D# diminished Or check out Jack Thammarat's amazing instrumental 'Tokyo Trip', available as an exclusive download package from our online store. This song is in the key of E major, so Jack has used the E major scale for his cool melodies, and the chords from the E diatonic sequence for the chords. Here's a section from the verse...

   

All the notes in the lead part and the chords are from the E major scale. The A/E chord just means you're playing an A chord, but with an E note in the bass. Here's another clip from later on...   

Again, all the chords are in the list above, but as you can see, they're all 7th chords. We'll look at those in the next lesson, but for now, have a look at the whole video for Jack's track. Remember, you can buy the package from our online store, and it includes high-quality video, audio, backing track and full Tab!

 

In search of the right chord

Thursday 20th October 2011 Hints And Tips

When people start writing their own songs, they often get stuck because they don't know which notes and chords sound good together. It's great when you can write a fully formed song by ear, but in reality we usually have to take simple ideas and work at them... swapping chords around, trying different alternatives. This process is a lot quicker if you know some music theory! If you've already started writing melodies or riffs, you're probably using a scale. Let's use the G major scale...

 

Now, a scale isn't just a bunch of notes for playing solos... it's a whole MUSICAL WORLD! Every scale also has a set of chords that usually sound pretty good together. There are no guarantees, but it's better than making wild guesses. The chords follow a standard pattern for every scale, and this is called the 'Diatonic Sequence'.

 

Those chords only use notes from the G major scale. You could make up chord progressions using those chords and build melodies and riffs over the top using the scale notes (or vice versa). You might not get perfection right away, but the results shouldn't sound too terrible. Take note of that sequence: major, minor, minor, major, major, minor, diminished. It's the same for EVERY SINGLE major scale. All twelve of them. Let's take E major as an example. The notes are E F# G# A B C# D#, and the diatonic chords are therefore... E major - F# minor - G# minor - A major - B major - C# minor - D# diminished Or check out Jack Thammarat's amazing instrumental 'Tokyo Trip', available as an exclusive download package from our online store. This song is in the key of E major, so Jack has used the E major scale for his cool melodies, and the chords from the E diatonic sequence for the chords. Here's a section from the verse...

   

All the notes in the lead part and the chords are from the E major scale. The A/E chord just means you're playing an A chord, but with an E note in the bass. Here's another clip from later on...   

Again, all the chords are in the list above, but as you can see, they're all 7th chords. We'll look at those in the next lesson, but for now, have a look at the whole video for Jack's track. Remember, you can buy the package from our online store, and it includes high-quality video, audio, backing track and full Tab!

 

More Searching for the Right Chord

Thursday 24th November 2011 Hints And Tips

Remember what happened in the last lesson? We looked at how every major scale has a set of 'native' chords that are built only from the notes of the scale, and therefore fit pretty well under melodies made from the scale. This time we're going to move on pretty quickly and add three more things for you to learn. BIGGER CHORDS As we saw in the second Jack Thammarat example last time, the diatonic system can be applied to more than just major and minor chords. We'll go back to G major, where the diatonic chords are... G major, A minor, B minor, C major, D major, E minor, F# diminished This time we'll extend those chords to create the diatonic 7th chords. Once again, there's a fixed pattern that works the same for every major scale! 

That last chord might sound complex, but don't worry... it's used a lot in jazz and is sometimes called a 'half-diminished' chord. You can use all those new chords in just the same way as the straight major and minor chords. Invent some chord progressions, invent some melodies with the G major scale, put it all together, see what happens! MODES Let's be honest, the major scale doesn't really do MOODY or MYSTERIOUS, or even FUNKY. Fortunately, everything you just learned about the major scale also works for the modes: Dorian, Phrygian, Lydian, Mixolydian, Aeolian (natural minor) and Locrian. Let's say you wanted to find the diatonic chords of A Dorian. The quick way is to figure out which major scale has exactly the same notes as A Dorian... this is G major. The diatonic chords for A Dorian are therefore exactly the same!

 

It's as simple as that! The difference is that A is now the important root note, instead of G. Eventually, it's good to learn the chords for each mode, but it's fine to use this short cut at first. MIXING IT UP We've covered a lot in two lessons, and there's SO much that we don't have space for. Don't be afraid to experiment and find your own sounds. Try adding other notes from the scale to any of the chords. What does that Bm7 sound like with an E note added? You'll find some great examples of this in Guthrie Govan's Melodic Series, available in our store. All of the tracks are built using diatonic chords from a particular mode. Here's an extract from'LA Acoustic'...

It's in E Aeolian (natural minor) so the notes and chords are once again the same as G major. In that excerpt, there's a selection of the standard diatonic chords, but there's also a couple of 'slash' chords, D/E and D/C. What this means is that a D chord is played over an E bass note and then a C bass note. This is exactly what we mentioned above... be creative with the notes and chords, and mix them up in lots of different ways!

More Searching for the Right Chord

Thursday 24th November 2011 Hints And Tips

Remember what happened in the last lesson? We looked at how every major scale has a set of 'native' chords that are built only from the notes of the scale, and therefore fit pretty well under melodies made from the scale. This time we're going to move on pretty quickly and add three more things for you to learn. BIGGER CHORDS As we saw in the second Jack Thammarat example last time, the diatonic system can be applied to more than just major and minor chords. We'll go back to G major, where the diatonic chords are... G major, A minor, B minor, C major, D major, E minor, F# diminished This time we'll extend those chords to create the diatonic 7th chords. Once again, there's a fixed pattern that works the same for every major scale! 

That last chord might sound complex, but don't worry... it's used a lot in jazz and is sometimes called a 'half-diminished' chord. You can use all those new chords in just the same way as the straight major and minor chords. Invent some chord progressions, invent some melodies with the G major scale, put it all together, see what happens! MODES Let's be honest, the major scale doesn't really do MOODY or MYSTERIOUS, or even FUNKY. Fortunately, everything you just learned about the major scale also works for the modes: Dorian, Phrygian, Lydian, Mixolydian, Aeolian (natural minor) and Locrian. Let's say you wanted to find the diatonic chords of A Dorian. The quick way is to figure out which major scale has exactly the same notes as A Dorian... this is G major. The diatonic chords for A Dorian are therefore exactly the same!

 

It's as simple as that! The difference is that A is now the important root note, instead of G. Eventually, it's good to learn the chords for each mode, but it's fine to use this short cut at first. MIXING IT UP We've covered a lot in two lessons, and there's SO much that we don't have space for. Don't be afraid to experiment and find your own sounds. Try adding other notes from the scale to any of the chords. What does that Bm7 sound like with an E note added? You'll find some great examples of this in Guthrie Govan's Melodic Series, available in our store. All of the tracks are built using diatonic chords from a particular mode. Here's an extract from'LA Acoustic'...

It's in E Aeolian (natural minor) so the notes and chords are once again the same as G major. In that excerpt, there's a selection of the standard diatonic chords, but there's also a couple of 'slash' chords, D/E and D/C. What this means is that a D chord is played over an E bass note and then a C bass note. This is exactly what we mentioned above... be creative with the notes and chords, and mix them up in lots of different ways!

More Searching for the Right Chord

Thursday 24th November 2011 Hints And Tips

Remember what happened in the last lesson? We looked at how every major scale has a set of 'native' chords that are built only from the notes of the scale, and therefore fit pretty well under melodies made from the scale. This time we're going to move on pretty quickly and add three more things for you to learn. BIGGER CHORDS As we saw in the second Jack Thammarat example last time, the diatonic system can be applied to more than just major and minor chords. We'll go back to G major, where the diatonic chords are... G major, A minor, B minor, C major, D major, E minor, F# diminished This time we'll extend those chords to create the diatonic 7th chords. Once again, there's a fixed pattern that works the same for every major scale! 

That last chord might sound complex, but don't worry... it's used a lot in jazz and is sometimes called a 'half-diminished' chord. You can use all those new chords in just the same way as the straight major and minor chords. Invent some chord progressions, invent some melodies with the G major scale, put it all together, see what happens! MODES Let's be honest, the major scale doesn't really do MOODY or MYSTERIOUS, or even FUNKY. Fortunately, everything you just learned about the major scale also works for the modes: Dorian, Phrygian, Lydian, Mixolydian, Aeolian (natural minor) and Locrian. Let's say you wanted to find the diatonic chords of A Dorian. The quick way is to figure out which major scale has exactly the same notes as A Dorian... this is G major. The diatonic chords for A Dorian are therefore exactly the same!

 

It's as simple as that! The difference is that A is now the important root note, instead of G. Eventually, it's good to learn the chords for each mode, but it's fine to use this short cut at first. MIXING IT UP We've covered a lot in two lessons, and there's SO much that we don't have space for. Don't be afraid to experiment and find your own sounds. Try adding other notes from the scale to any of the chords. What does that Bm7 sound like with an E note added? You'll find some great examples of this in Guthrie Govan's Melodic Series, available in our store. All of the tracks are built using diatonic chords from a particular mode. Here's an extract from'LA Acoustic'...

It's in E Aeolian (natural minor) so the notes and chords are once again the same as G major. In that excerpt, there's a selection of the standard diatonic chords, but there's also a couple of 'slash' chords, D/E and D/C. What this means is that a D chord is played over an E bass note and then a C bass note. This is exactly what we mentioned above... be creative with the notes and chords, and mix them up in lots of different ways!

Mixing Distorted Electric Guitars

Thursday 5th July 2012 Hints And Tips

Part 1 Basic EQ techniques. By Keith More

Rock, metal, punk and indie guitars tend to sound best as a pair of almost identical but separate takes panned hard left, hard right. If you only have one guitar part you can fake a stereo pair with a delay which we'll go into later. The centre position of the mix should be reserved for kick, snare, bass and vocals only. Set your DAW to pre fade listen and check the recorded guitar track isn't peaking (Going into the red). If it is, you need to repair or replace. If the guitar has been recorded too quietly you should normalize it to around 75%. Never ride the fader passed 0dB in the mix as this can digitally distort the output . Solo the guitar track and delete any noise in the sections where the guitar isn't playing. Its a good idea to start work on the guitar sound after you've got the kit and bass sounding great together. Always start with the guitar flat (EQ out) as the recording engineer may have got it just right. If the guitar does need some work I tend to start the signal chain with an EQ strip. My personal preference is the SSL 4000 E series for distorted guitars and Waves do an amazing plug in version of this. Don't worry if you've not got an SSL though as you can get great results with any generic four band EQ. Listen to the guitar track in solo mode and engage a Hi Pass filter (HPF). This is used to get rid of any low end information which will interrupt the kick and bass frequencies. Set it to a sharp curve if you can, and find a cut-off point somewhere between 70-100 Hz.

The idea is to clean up the low end to make sonic space for the kick and bass without making the guitar sound thin. Take solo back off and double check with the rhythm section. Feel free to experiment until you find the sweet spot. This will work well for guitars in standard or drop D tuning. Low tuned metal guitars are much more complicated though, and really do require an experienced mix engineer to make them sit. I tend to go for subtractive EQ as it sounds more natural. I think of the effects of EQ as yin and yang and what I mean by that is, by reducing low end EQ, I'm increasing the perception of the high end, reducing the hi end increases the perception of low end, and reducing the mids increases the perception of lows and highs. Always be aware of this when applying EQ. Also, when you apply any EQ, either subtractive or additive, you are changing the gain of that channel so always check for digital peaks and reduce the output volume of the EQ plug in until the dreaded red light disappears! 

Getting it right.

If the guitar sounds muddy or dull (Like putting your hand over your mouth when speaking), solo the guitar track again and engage the low mid band (LM) on your EQ. The problem areas are usually around the 200Hz300Hz region (Although it can go a bit higher or lower depending on the recording). Start at 200Hz with a medium Q and reduce the gain of that frequency by around 3dB. Then sweep the frequency between 200Hz-300Hz to find the sweet spot. Now try sweeping the Q from narrow to wide to see if you can get the sweet spot sweeter and finish by sweeping the gain (Always subtractive i.e. -dB) to get it spot on. Feel free to experiment a lot with this EQ band and remember to take into account the Yin and Yang effect. Also, take the guitar out of solo and see how it sounds in the track. If the guitar sounds too bright or harsh, engage the high frequency (HF) band. Dial in 1.5kHz and select shelving type. Pull down the gain by a couple of dBs and sweep the frequency between 1.5kHz and 5kHz to find……...you guessed it, the sweet spot! Then adjust the gain to taste. If there are still some very high frequencies which are interfering with say, the cymbals, you can engage a low pass filter (LPF) and trim off at somewhere between 6kHz-10kHz. It's suck it and see I'm afraid, so let your ears tell you when its right.         

Cool EQ trick:

If you want to make the guitar sound harder and more in your face, engage a notch filter and sweep between 1kHz-2kHz to find the SWEET spot…..Im getting sick of that phrase too! This gets rid of some of the air type frequencies and should make the guitar feel more direct. This trick works best with quite heavily distorted rock/metal guitars but not always, so tread with care! O.K. presuming youve recorded a stereo pair of guitars with the same tone each side. Take the guitar youve been working on and pan it hard right. Now copy all the EQ settings to the other guitar track and pan that one hard left. At this point I usually darken the left side EQ with a medium Q at around 2kHz which should make the guitars appear wider. Not much, just about -1dB should do it. You can also move the LMF a tiny little bit on the left guitar to help separate the guitars even more. Say youve set it to 250Hz, well just move it to 255 or 245Hz and that should do the trick. Fake stereo guitars: Create an aux buss channel, select the buss input and put on a short delay plug in of around 20ms on that buss. Set the output of the delay to 100% wet and if you have depth and rate controls, set the depth to around 15% and the rate to around 1.0Hz. The delay feedback should be set to zero. Send the main guitar to that buss input and set the buss output fader from the main guitar track to 0dB. Please note, this isnt the main guitar fader, its the fader sending to the delay buss input. Pan the main guitar hard right and the delay aux hard Left. Bingo! Stereo guitars...…ish! Adjust the Main guitar and delay buss faders until they sound about the same volume in each speaker. You can also apply a one band EQ after the delay to darken the left side EQ with a medium Q at around 2kHz which should make the guitars appear wider. Not much, just about -1dB should do it as before. Enjoy! Keith. 

Keith is a mix engineer that can make you tracks sound kick-ass!

Contact him by licking here: http://keithmore.net

Counting Time

Tuesday 29th January 2013 Hints And Tips

Here at Jamtrack Central, we provide all our transcriptions with both Tab and standard notation (the "dots"), so everyone has a chance of learning those amazing solos. But wait... why is the standard notation there at all? Doesn't everyone just read the Tab?

Well, maybe that's true. Even if you ask very experienced guitarists, they'll probably admit that they follow the Tab if it's there. But some people like to read standard notation, so it's important for them. They might want to figure out their own fingerings, and standard notation is actually better for that.

But there's an even more important reason... standard notation shows the RHYTHM. Even if you never learn to read music properly, we recommend that you learn how rhythm and time is shown in standard notation. Sometimes the rhythm symbols are also added to the Tab (you can do this in Guitar Pro) but the basic system is the same. It makes it much easier to look at the Tab and understand how the numbers relate to what you are hearing.

Here's our first type of note. It's just a black dot with a stick. It's called a quarter note and you hold it for one beat.

(The "beat" is the basic pulse of the music. In most rock, metal, fusion, jazz and a lot of blues there are four beats in each measure. That's what the 4/4 symbol means.)

There are other symbols to show longer notes...

And symbols to show shorter notes...

You may have noticed that we're using the American names for notes. We decided to do this because they follow a simple pattern and are easiest to remember. In Britain, the quarter note can also be called the crotchet, and then there's the semibreve, minim, quaver and semiquaver.

When it comes to real music, you're obviously going to see a total mixture of these symbols...

That only gives us a limited range of rhythms. We have a couple of more advanced tricks for getting even more rhythm values. If you put a small dot after a note, it becomes 50% longer. So a dotted quarter note is 1.5 beats, and a dotted 8th note is three quarters of a beat. Then you can use a "tie" (the curved line) to join notes together. When two notes are joined with a tie, you don't play both notes. Just play the first note and let it sustain for the value of both notes. So a half note tied to a dotted quarter note...?

Did you get the answer? A half note tied to a dotted quarter note lasts for 3.5 beats!

Of course, you still don't HAVE to know this stuff. When you're learning a new solo, the Tab tells you where to put your fingers and you can hear the rhythms on the CD or mp3. But we think it's better to use as many senses as possible when learning a piece of music. Learn music with your ears, your fingers and your eyes!

Decoding The Shred

Tuesday 5th February 2013 Hints And Tips

LESSON - DECODING THE SHRED

In our last lesson we showed you how it can be useful to understand how time and rhythm is shown in music notation, even if you normally only read the Tab. We showed you how different note-lengths can be made using five basic symbols, with dots or ties added to make other lengths.

But you might have wondered about the fast notes... there are four 16th notes in a beat, but surely you can go faster than that? What about all those crazy solos by Guthrie Govan, Andy James or Alex Hutchings? Well, it's actually pretty simple, but first we'll review the information so far...

To make faster notes, we just follow the same principle, adding a tail to the note (which becomes a horizontal beam when the notes are joined together) and cutting the length by 50%. A 32nd note is half the length of a 16th note, and a 64th note is half the length of a 32nd note. Simple!

As before, you can still use dots and ties to create other rhythm values. But there's one more trick we need to add, something a little more advanced. Let's have a quick introduction to the subject of "tuplets"!

The simplest type of tuplet is a triplet. This tells you that three notes are played (evenly!) in the space normally filled by two notes. You normally play two 8th notes in the space of a beat, but an 8th note triplet has three notes in the space of a beat. All of our rhythm values can be made into triplets.

There are other types of tuplets, but they're less common. In Jam Track Central transcriptions, you might see an occasional quintuplet, sextuplet or septuplet... that's five, six or seven notes in the space normally filled by four notes!

[You could say that the sextuplet is the same as two groups of triplets... we use both, depending on how the notes are emphasised. If there's an obvious "ONE-two-three-ONE-two-three" sound, we'll notate it as two sets of triplets.]

This is getting complex, but there's a good reason to know this stuff. If you understand how these rhythms work, it's a lot easier to learn fast licks. If you only look at the Tab, you just see a long line of notes. Listening to the mp3 doesn't always help, as the notes go by so fast. But if you understand the rhythm notation, you can see the structure. Look at this scary Andy James line (from "Ultimate Force", in our package Custom Metal 1)...

There's 27 notes in the space of four beats! If you were just working from the Tab numbers, you'd have to listen pretty carefully and keep trying until you figured out the rhythm. But if you know how to read the rhythm notation, you can immediately see where the four beats are (look for the gaps where the beams are not joined together). So when you practise that line, you can work on one beat at a time, or even half a beat at a time. And you gain a much deeper understanding of music in the process!

[Unfortunately, Powertab joins 32nd and 64th notes in groups of eight, which is harder to read. We prefer groups of four, but there's nothing we can do about that!]

Tapping For Beginners

Tuesday 12th March 2013 Hints And Tips

This lesson is designed to give you a basic introduction to the technique known as tapping.

Maybe you've heard people talking about it and never knew what they meant, or maybe you looked at some of our jamtrack packages and were confused by the tapping licks. Or maybe you just always wanted to play Van Halen's groundbreaking 'Eruption'! Whatever the reason, we're going to give you a gentle introduction.

Let's start by explaining what we're talking about. Normally, you have one hand holding the pick (or plucking the strings with your fingers) while the other hand presses the strings against the frets. You knew that, right? With tapping, your picking hand is also used to press strings against the frets. Both hands are now doing the same job.

Here's what a simple tapping lick looks like in Tab. We're doing a regular hammer-on from 10 to 12, then tapping 14, then pulling off the tapping finger and finally doing a regular pull-off from 12 to 10...

Let's look at the basics... which finger should you tap with? Different people do different things, but we'd recommend using your 2nd (middle) finger as your primary tapping finger. This means you can hold your pick as normal, making it easier to switch quickly between tapped notes and regular picked notes.

And then, exactly how do you tap? Well, you already know how to do a hammer-on, right? Tapping is EXACTLY the same movement. Doing a pull-off with your tapping finger is just like a regular pull-off, except you have two choices... you can pull upwards or downwards. Try both! Possibly most people prefer to pull upwards, but Guthrie Govan is one notable player who pulls downwards.

The basic tapping action is shown here. In the first photo, we have already hammered the 12th fret and the tapping finger is moving towards the string. In the second photo the tapping finger has hit the string. Note how the pick is held in the normal position between thumb and first finger.

 

You might be wondering... why would anyone do that? Why not just play the notes normally? Well, tapping is one of the "legato" techniques, which are used to make the notes flow smoothly. Tapping simply allows you to play MORE notes without breaking the flow. You now have five fingers working together instead of four. You can also have wider jumps between the notes. Some players like to take things further and use two or more fingers to tap. But we should definitely save that for another lesson!

Just to show you what's possible with some creativity and MASSES of technique, check out Guthrie at his best in the track Fade To Blue (Preview 5 from Contemporary Series 1).

The Amazing Flat Fifth

Tuesday 23rd April 2013 Hints And Tips

In this lesson we're going to tell you about a note called the 'flat fifth'. That doesn't sound very exciting, but trust us... it's one of the most important features of music from the last 100 years!

Let's do the basic theory first. The flat 5th is also called the diminished 5th, and in proper music symbols it is shown as 'b5'. It lives six half-tones above the root note. So, if you were making a riff in E, the flat 5th would be Bb.

The flat 5th can be added to many different scales, but possibly the most common use is in the minor pentatonic...

This hybrid scale is what we often call the 'blues scale' (although that is not a precise term!)

Now, here's a slight complication. That EXACT same note can also be called the sharp 4th or augmented 4th. Huh? Well, it depends on the context and how the note is being used, just as the note Bb can also be called A#. Don't worry about this now... the most important thing is to try using the note and be aware that it has two names.

It's also important to learn the SOUND of the flat 5th. This note is often described as being 'dissonant', but it can also have a neutral or unsettled character. It certainly sounds quite uncomfortable if you let it ring for too long... try playing this E minor chord and then add the flat 5th...

But that's what's so great about it! Just as we like to use spices to make our food more exciting, we use dissonant notes to make our music more spicy! Without the flat 5th, you wouldn't have the classic riffs from 'Enter Sandman', 'Black Sabbath' (the title song) or 'Sunshine of Your Love'. It's not just rock and metal, either... in its other job as the sharp 4th, this amazing note has important roles in 'Maria' from West Side Story, and the Simpsons theme.

Here's a clip from our upcoming brand new Guthrie Govan package, West Coast Grooves (out this Friday). This is from the track 'Jelly Bean' and shows how Guthrie uses the flat 5th in a mostly E minor pentatonic context.

 

Top 10 Tips To Get The Most Out Of Your Guitar Licks Part 1

Tuesday 13th January 2015 Hints And Tips

Written by Steven Martin (Steven Martin Guitar)

Part 1:

We all hear about them, 'Lick of the week', 'Lick of the day', 'here's this week's free lick', check out this 'rad Dorian lick'. Guitar licks are everywhere! Due to popular demand and great feedback we have recently been releasing some REALLY great 20 licks packs that are crammed with great content, but instead of just learning some awesome and obscure lick that you may never play again and moving on, have you ever considered trying to squeeze EVERY last bit of value you can from each and every lick? Below are our 'Top 10 Tips For Getting The Most Out Of Your Guitar Licks':

Learn the same lick all over the neck - This first one may seem basic, but that's because it needs to be! You should first aim to be able to play the lick in the SAME octave in as many different places as you can. The guitar fretboard is laid out in a wondrous fashion, making plenty of notes available in any position. This means you can play the same lick in the same octave in different places, but you can also start in the same place and then switch to a new position in the middle of the lick. Certain neck positions and variations in note positions will present different challenges to you; certain string sets will be more difficult to work with. There may also be times when a change of technique may be cool to try, such as string skipping a lick that previously used sweep picking. As you play the lick in various places, try to visualise the 'parent' scale or chord/arpeggio. This will both help you remember the lick, and help you to formulate similar licks when you come to use that position while improvising. The extension of this is to then transpose the lick up or down an octave and repeat the same method of playing it everywhere you can. It may seem like a dull approach but if you really work on this for EVERY lick, you'll open up a whole world of fretboard freedom.

Learn the lick in familiar AND unfamiliar keys - This is very important because you will probably not always use the same key for every track. Learning the lick in a familiar key makes perfect sense because you want the lick to be available to you while you are improvising and playing. If you love playing in that classic 5th fret A minor position then you need to find a logical fingering for your lick in this position. Moving to unfamiliar keys is usually an easy task on guitar... it's just a case of moving all the notes together up or down the frets to match the new key. Learning to play the lick in many different keys is going to help solidify the lick in your mind. The goal here is to aim to be able to play the lick at ANY given moment, regardless of which key you might be playing in.

Learn how the notes relate to the underlying chord - This is going to help you BIG TIME with improvising, for three reasons. Firstly, it will give you a more thorough understanding of exactly which notes you are playing and why. For example if you know which notes you are playing in relation to the chord (root, 3rd, 9th etc) you instantly have more control over your playing. You hear the sound of the notes, learn their names and how they relate to the chord, and you can then access those sounds when you want them. For example, take a lick that highlights the 9th over a minor 7 chord. Once you know what is happening to create this sound, you then know what to do when you wish to call upon that particular sound again. Secondly, this links with the first tip, increasing your fretboard/chord knowledge. Try not to just learn licks as patterns... if the first note is E, is it the root of the scale? Or the 5th... or the 3rd? Thirdly, if you know how a lick fits with one chord, you can figure out how to change it for other chords; which leads us to our next top tip!

Learn how to play Major/Minor/Dominant versions of the same lick - Using your knowledge of how the lick relates to a chord, you can now alter it to fit other chords. Let's say your lick works over a major chord and uses notes from the major scale. The major scale is built from the root, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th and 7th (in C, this is C D E F G A B). Now lets say that we want to play a minor version of the same lick. In the natural minor (Aeolian) scale the 3rd, 6th and 7th are lowered (flat), so if your lick contains the notes E, A or B, you need to change them to Eb, Ab and Bb. The same lick pattern will now work over a C minor chord. In some cases, you can leave the A notes... this creates a Dorian sound. Experiment!

For dominant, the only note you need to change is the 7th... shift the B to Bb, and your lick will now work over a C7 chord. With this basic principle you can change your lick to fit a wide range of scales and modes.

Reuse/Recycle the Lick - This can be quite a fun one to mess around with. Try focusing on the rhythm of the lick, using the same rhythm but adding your own choice of notes. Or focus on the melodic shape, looking at when the melody goes up or down. Effectively we did this when we changed/altered our licks to create major/minor versions. You can be as exact or vague as you like. For example if the original lick went 'down down down up' then you can take that same pattern but use different sized intervals. This can give you some very interesting results!

So that is the first 5 tips of our top 10 tips for trying to get the very most out of a single guitar lick. Be sure to stay tuned for part two where we'll go through the final 5 tips! You can subscribe to our mailing list at the very bottom of the page to be notified of our releases and future blog posts (including the second of this series).

P.S - Part two of our Top Ten Tips for Guitar now available! 

If you enjoyed this article, please do share it on Facebook and Twitter to let all your friends know how to get the most out of their licks!

Steve.

Top 10 Tips To Get The Most Out Of Your Guitar Licks Part 2

Wednesday 28th January 2015 Hints And Tips

Written by Steven Martin (Steven Martin Guitar)

I hope you enjoyed part one of this series . This is the second part and the final 5 licks; enjoy!

Develop the lick - This can involve adding notes or removing notes. There are loads of ways of adding notes ('melodic ornamentation', if you prefer). Chromatic passing tones can be added between scale notes as melodic 'filler'. This is common in Jazz or Fusion where you'd play 'strong' notes on the beats with the added chromatic notes in between. Any notes (not just chromatic) can be used to 'fill gaps', including wider intervals to create a melodic jump.

You can also displace or develop the rhythm, increasing the rhythmic density and building momentum. Or try altering the articulation of a lick by sliding into or out of certain notes; adding bends or vibrato; playing staccato or legato; adding or changing accents.

Melodic Superimposition - This technique can be difficult to master because it requires either a knowledge of theory or a great ear. The basic concept is to take a lick that was orginally played over one chord and play it over a different chord. This means that all the notes in the lick have different functions and relationships to the chord. For example...

Your lick uses the notes C B G D E over a C major chord. This means we're using the root, major 7th, 5th, 2nd and major 3rd.

Now we'll play the same notes over an E minor chord. How do they relate to the new chord? The C is now the minor 6th, which is a whole different sound from the root! And then we have the 5th, minor 3rd, minor 7th and root; a completely different set of sounds. The best way to see how these types of devices work is to try them out for yourself and see how you get on!

 

Swing vs Straight - This can also be a fun way to excite old licks. Using both straight and swing rhythm with your licks will really help you to learn them and also give you a few more ways of using them. Also trying playing straight licks over a swing backing and swing licks over a straight backing for some cool variations.

 

Change the speed of the lick - This doesn't mean changing the tempo (like 120 bpm to 130 bpm). What we mean is moving up or down through 'rhythmic subdivisions'. If your lick is made up of 8th notes, play it as 16th notes or quarter notes. Or if it starts with one 8th note and two 16th notes, change that to one 16th and two 32nd notes... and so on. The idea is that sometimes there are great melodies hidden within blisteringly fast shred lines that you'd normally miss. Conversely some of the best melodies make very interesting shred lines when sped right up!

Use the licks in a new genre - Who says you can't use your best country licks in a metal song? Or your best jazz licks in a pop tune? Sometimes taking things out of context and viewing them in a new light can change your perceptions and get more from your music!

So that's the last 5 of the top 10 tips for getting the most out of a single lick! Why not try it with one of the 20 Licks packs? Pick any lick and really experiment with all the tips in this article... I GUARANTEE you will get so much more out of the licks. You'll also develop your own creativity, find fresh inspiration, expand your fretboard knowledge and improve your improvisation!

If you enjoyed this article, please do share it on Facebook and Twitter to let all your friends know how to get the most out of their licks!
Steve.

Written by Steven Martin.

 

How to use guitar jam tracks effectively

Tuesday 21st May 2019 Hints And Tips

When it comes to practice sessions, not much else trumps guitar jam tracks. They’re fun, allow you to learn new skills and come in all “shapes and sizes”.

You no doubt want to get the most out of anything in life, and we’re here to help you do that with jam tracks.

What are guitar jam tracks?

In short, a jam track is a form of backing music, for you to play over to your heart’s content. Jamming with other musicians can be super fun, but also quite hard to come by for many.

So instead of trying to find a few like-minded individuals and a large space for you all to stand in, you can have yourself some backing musicians in the form of an MP3. Best of all, you not only get to take the lead, but you also get to improve your playing.

Pressing play and having some fun is the easiest way to enjoy a jam track on guitar, but it’s always a good idea to have a little think before you use one.

Before you use a jam track…

After years of playing, you might be able to hear a song, find the key, and have a twiddle on your guitar straight away. If that isn’t the case, then no problem, but either way, it’s always a good idea to familiarise yourself with the details of the track, even if you don’t plan your “session” down to the last note.

The main aspects you’ll want to know, is the key, the tempo and the style. Playing to the key (and chords) will help to avoid any unwanted dissonance in your phrases, but this shouldn’t limit you. Many of the best 'colour tones' can often be found lurking outside the diatonic notes. The tempo and style are then there as a guide to the kind of feel you might want to go for.  

By getting as much of the technical information in your pocket as possible, you can free yourself up to jam. You also avoid any pant-down moments if there is a tempo or time signature change mid track!

The best ways to use a guitar jam track

Once you know what’s what with your jam track of choice, it’s time to play. Here are a few different approaches that you might find useful.

Practice a technique

Guitar masterclasses might be the number one tool for developing and pinning down your skills, but jam tracks allow you to use them in context. It is a lot easier to play a set tapping exercise in isolation then it is while playing other stuff too. So pick a technique, such as alternate picking, and use the track as a setting to nail that skill.

Try something new

Everyone has favourites, and it can be easy to keep playing the same things. But if you step out of your comfort zone, even a little bit, you can really add a new level to your playing. Pick a mode to play in that you normally ignore, or perhaps go for a genre that is way out there in terms of your tastes. You don’t then have to become a fully fledged fan of that music, but each style brings with it it’s own challenges, and the more you can conquer the better. For something really out there, you could even see how one of your favourite licks works in a different setting. By adapting that lick to “fit” you’ll invariably uncover something new, and that’s what jamming is all about. 

Just jam

Of course, sometimes it is just as fun and useful to plug in and jam away. Doing this every session is fine, but we’d always say to try and structure your time playing at least a little bit. This way you can see where your strengths and weaknesses are. Maybe leave the full-on jamming time to the end of your session as a little treat! 

One last thing…

Jam tracks are in many ways the antithesis of the metronome. Instead of that click, click, click to rigidly stick to, you get to have some fun and develop an internal sense of timing. That doesn’t mean that metronomes don’t have a place in practice, and are often quite good when used in conjunction with a jam track, but to really develop fluidity in your playing, it has to be a jam track.

 

What are fanned fret guitars?

Wednesday 28th August 2019 Hints And Tips

lucas moscardini fanned fret legator guitar

Photo credit: Lucas Moscardini

Life is full of change. Some changes stick and some don’t.

Gimmicks like Gibson’s Reverse Flying V and Fender’s self turning amp knobs have come and gone. But with more and more players embracing fanned fret guitars, they're proving that they could be here to stay.

You’re probably wondering if you should try them, and are wanting to know more.

Let’s start with the basics.

What are fanned fret guitars?

In short, fanned fret guitars - also known as multi-scale - feature a fretboard with angled nuts as opposed to the perpendicular fret of a traditional guitar. Usually the one perpendicular fret is at the 9th, with the rest leaning towards the headstock or down to the bridge, depending on which direction along the fretboard you travel along.

It looks lovely, but why bother?

What’s in a scale?

To look at the benefits of fanned fret guitars, let’s start with your good old trusty traditional specimens. Every guitar has a scale length, which is the distance between the nut on the headstock to the bridge. Usually this means you’ll be playing on a 24 - 25.5″ scale guitar.

Bass guitars obviously have a longer scale allowing lower frequencies to ring more clearly. Baritone guitars have similar benefits due to a longer scale length. But this benefit is where we start to run into a few problems. While the baritone scale is great for low end, it can be a challenge on the higher frequencies, and bends can become muddy.

So downtune a standard scale right? No problem. But go anywhere below C and unless you have tree trunk strings, you may start to run into clarity and tuning issues. You might also find that most of your guitars are better suited to one thing or the other. High end or low end. Wouldn’t it be good to have one designed to do both?

The benefits of fanned fret guitars

Thanks to the angled nut of a fanned fret guitar, the string tension on the higher strings is reduced, which makes big bends a lot easier. It can also serve to give you a smoother sound.

At the other of this shredding, riffing, see-saw, you’ll find greater tension on the lower end. If you downtune or use thicker strings, there will be more clarity and a heavier tone.

One major spoken about benefit though, is better intonation and tuning accuracy across the whole fretboard. Which is somewhat counter intuitive when you think about the angles on show!

The drawbacks of fanned frets

Fanned fret guitars are relatively new so the market for them isn’t huge. The market is growing but you will be paying more for a multi-scale instrument than your regular models. Likewise, not all guitars are available with fanned frets, so you may have to enter the custom market which can get very pricey!

Money aside, it will take time to adjust to the frets on offer. This can make some chords more challenging and bar chords in particular can take some time to get used to.

There is also a thought that the angles frets wear away at strings quicker, but that can be remedied with a decent set. Our suggestion would be Elixir Strings due to their impressive durability which helps them to retain their tone.

Who uses fanned frets?

Metal guitarists are perhaps the main adopters of this innovation. Future JTC artists Lucas Moscardini and Manuel Gardner Fernandes both play with multi-scale guitars. While Misha Mansoor, the man behind Horizon Devices and guitarist of Periphery, is one of the most well known users of fanned frets.

Conclusion

What was good enough for Hendrix and is still good enough for our very own Guthrie Govan, is good enough for you. If you’re used to standard scale guitars and happy with them, stick with them.

But change can be good and often the best way to improve or learn new things is to try something new. So if you’ve ever played on a fanned fret, or want to give them a go, drop us a message on Facebook. We’d love to hear your thoughts!

How to choose guitar strings

Wednesday 19th February 2020 Hints And Tips

lucas moscardini legator guitar bridge and strings
Credit: Lucas Moscardini

Whether you’re new to the world of guitar or you’re that person who has owned a guitar for 10 years but never changed the strings, then you’re in the right place!

This is your chance to better understand the world of strings. The lingo, the variations and the maintenance of strings can be confusing no matter what level you’re playing at, so we’re here to give you a full rundown.

Let’s start with why they are so important.

What’s the deal with strings?

First, the basics. Strings are fixed at the machine heads on the headstock and the bridge towards the bottom of the body of the guitar. Fret wires at key intervals along the length of the neck then allow you to play different notes. These fret wires are normally straight, but modern variations include fanned fret and True Temperament™.

It is said by many that strings don’t have an impact on tone, and while the sound of the likes of Guthrie Govan and Brian May is unmistakable, even these greats of guitar will have a string preference. Brands, types and gauges of strings all help to create a different tone.

Note attack, sustain and decay are all aspects of how we summarise a string’s tone. The initial note volume and dynamic response of a string can be looked at too. Finally, the EQ profile of a string is tightly linked to the harmonics and overtones it produces.

But what causes these tonal differences in the first place?

String materials

Material is likely the most influential as it vastly affects the tone of the notes. Electric and acoustic strings generally have steel cores with varying materials for the windings. Steel and nickel are common electric guitar string materials, brass and bronze are common windings for acoustics, and nylon (sometimes animal gut) is almost exclusively used for classical guitars.

String gauges

String gauge is the thickness of a guitar string and is measured in thousandths of an inch. Common string gauges for a standard 6 string guitar are; light (10-46), medium (11-49) and heavy (10-52). You can also get fancier with skinny top, heavy bottoms and custom gauges.

The first factor in determining your string gauge is the application. If you’re keeping things in standard tuning you have the most options but there are certain situations where you may require thicker strings. The odd drop-D tuning would likely work fine but if you’re down tuning everything to Drop-f# then light strings are going to first get very flappy, very fast and the pitch will be all over the place when you pick hard. A more appropriately thicker gauge string will solve this.

Other needs requiring different string gauges would be extended range guitars (think 7 or 8 string guitars) or funky scale lengths. Lastly, your hand/forearm strength and fingertip calluses can also dictate string gauge preferences because thicker strings hold more tension at the same pitch, so thicker strings can make string bends and vibrato more difficult. If you’re new to string bending, we advise picking light strings until you get the technique down, and then you can get all sadistic and bend 13s all day long like Stevie Ray Vaughan.

Feel

The strings are your direct connection to the instrument, so if you strongly dislike the feel of them you just won’t want to pick up that guitar again. Material, winding type and coating are the biggest contributors to how a string feels. Nylon strings feel slicker and smoother than heavy acoustic strings, while steel strings on an electric guitar might be considered a middle ground between the two.

Windings usually come in three main forms, round-wound, flat-wound and half-round, with round-wound being the most common. A typical downside to round-wounds is that they harbour dirt and grime. Companies such as Elixir Strings offer coated strings which improve the life of strings and ‘smooth’ out the feel a little. Flats generally feel smoother and have their own unique tone.

elxiir strings coating
Elixir String coating to stop corrosion

Notes from the JTC team

Steve
JTC artists rave about the Elixir Optiweb coated series so I gave them a go and they’ve quickly become my favourite strings to date. First and foremost it was the feel that attracted me. I’m most at home on roundwounds but the coating the Optiwebs have gives them an elegance and slickness I prefer, that makes playing feel more natural than other brands I’ve tried. Second, but equally as important for me is that the strings have a great balanced feel and really nice attack/clarity to the tone, without sacrificing the full body sound of the notes. Comfort and great tone make for a deadly combination.

Matt
When playing I like to use 10-52s. I play a lot of classic rock/ blues and instrumental stuff so sound is everything to me. I don’t use too many effects and like to keep things pretty raw so my string choice plays a big part to getting the most tone sustain as possible. I like to go heavy without stringing them with fencing wire! The light tops heavy bottoms never let me down. Whether I’m ripping a solo or laying down some sweet riffs they’ve got that perfect balance, but each to their own!

Dan
I go with a skinny top/heavy bottom pack whenever I restring. I down tune a lot and play a lot of chuggy, riffy stuff, so I like a good grip on the low end, but on those rare occasions where I do venture to the higher strings, the lighter gauge gives me a bit of a hand. I’m quite often guilty of playing strings to death so when I do change them, I’m always surprised at the freshness of the tone. Maybe there is a lesson there!

21/07/2015 - Complete Artist Boxset - Special Offer Of The Week

Tuesday 21st July 2015 Promotions

Special Offer Ends 28th July 2015

Right now you can get a whopping £60 off of our 'Complete Artists Boxset' for one week only! This boxset features 30 awesome tracks which works out at LESS than £1.35 EACH (With each track containing a video, full TAB, and backing track). You can't find that kind of value anywhere else. That's £109.71 off of the packs full RRP value (which is worth £149.70). And with a package line up containing the likes of Guthrie Govan (Official), Jack Thammarat, Vinai trinateepakdee, DANIELE GOTTARDO, Alex Hutchings, Jess Lewis, Andy Wood, Feodor Dosumov, Jan Cykra, Ignazio Di Salvo and Hedras Ramos you REALLY can't go wrong!

Available here: https://jamtrackcentral.com/store/series/complete-artist-series-box-set

28/07/2015 - Zakk Wylde From The Vault - Special Offer Of The Week

Tuesday 28th July 2015 Promotions

Special Offer Ends 4th August 2015!

For this week only we have Zakk Wylde's 'From The Vault' on special offer with a whopping 50% off! Inside this pack you will find 6 rocking tracks all complete with video, audio, backing tracks and of course full TAB/notation!

- JTC

Tips For Learning Chord Progressions

Tuesday 3rd April 2018 Guest Articles

Tips to Learn Chord Progressions - Marc-Andre Seguin

There are so many platforms these days with so much media and information that it is almost too much to handle. If you go on YouTube and you are looking at guitar videos, you will probably see any number of ads for apps or instructionals that claim to have the quintessential guitar method. These programs always target beginners, and while some of these might be really good, it can definitely get exhausting. I will not be making any claims like this, but I will share with you the way that I learned to play chord progressions and what worked - or did not work - for me. I will not be discussing much of the theory aspect of chords here, but I would suggest getting into that early in your playing career or you will be left trying to catch up and many things will seem confusing.

Before moving on, this article requires that you are able to read chord charts. It’s fairly simple. Basically, the diagram is read as if you are holding a guitar up with the fretboard facing you. Any markings are frets that you would play. A “0” above the string, means that string is played open. An “X” above the string means you do not play that string. Lastly, an arc or a thick black line over a set of strings means that you bar that set of strings by placing your finger across multiple strings.

 

Here’s an example with everything we just mentioned for reference:

 



Now that we understand how to read chord charts, let’s go ahead and discuss how we can approach chord progressions. In this article, I will mostly address chords belonging to the keys of G and C major. The shapes I will share with you today are open position chords, meaning they use open strings as well as the first few frets. To move these around to different keys, you will need what’s called a capo, which basically serves to move the nut around, so to speak. The good thing is that the shapes themselves don’t change!

 

First, let’s give you some chords to work with.

 


Before moving on to playing actual progressions, the most important thing is that you are able to get a good sound out of each chord. Make sure every note is audible as this is often the most difficult thing for beginners. At first, you will certainly be muting certain notes. This is just something you will have to work through in the beginning.

 

These are a few considerations with regard to getting a clear sound out of each note:

 

-POSTURE. Yes, like in school. Sit up straight. This will ensure that your hands don’t land in undesirable positions.

 

-Your grip should look like you are gripping a tennis ball. Try to avoid bending your DIP or fingertip joints and try to avoid pressing your palm up against the neck.

 

-You should be using the actual tips of your fingers to fret.

 

Once you feel like you’ve got a good sound out of each chord, it’s time to start trying to play them in succession. The best approach, in my opinion, is to take these in pairs then try to link them all together. Take the metronome, take the first two chords, and play them each four times to a metronome alternating between the two. Remember, take it SLOWLY. It’s important that you get a nice clean sound out of each note than it is to play it fast. I cannot stress enough how important this is. Lots of students come to me with bad habits and it is much more difficult to retrain than it is to learn correctly in the first place. Use the metronome and take it slowly. Additionally, a little bit each day goes a much longer way than trying to cram things into one session and not touching it for another week.

 

Assuming we play the chords in the order displayed above, your practice should look something like this:

 

G > C > G > C > G > C and so on…

 

Then

 

C > Em > C > Em > C > Em

 

Then

 

Em > Am > Em > Am > Em > Am

 

Then, you would link the first one back to the last one to begin the progression.

 

Am > G > Am > G and so on…

 

Once you feel comfortable making each of these transitions, you can go ahead and try the whole progression.

 

Play each chord four times with a metronome before moving on and then loop the progression.

 

G > C > Em > Am > G > C > Em > Am etc.

Now let’s add a few more chords in open position.

 

 

The F major, while it does not use any open strings, it is close enough to that part of the fretboard that we will group it with the rest of them.

 

Before moving on, I strongly recommend going over the theory that comes with chord construction and functional harmony. This will give you a better understanding of why chords move the way they do and how to create desired effects with specific progressions.

 

Now that we have got some more chords available to us, let’s come up with a few more progressions to give you some practice material.

 

  1. G - Em - Am - D

  2. C - Am - Dm - G

  3. Em - C - G - D

  4. Am - F - C - G

 

These progressions might sound very familiar. They have all been used to write thousands of songs - literally. As you practice them, take the same approach we discussed earlier. Take two chords at a time, slowly, and link them all together in the end. Doing things slowly and correctly is the key here. Not long after getting this stuff under your belt, you should go ahead and learn a bunch of songs. This is the best way, in my opinion, to see how songs and chord progressions are used to create different effects. The best way to advance in any trade or craft is to build upon what others have already done before you. This way, you will learn new shapes and new approaches as well as gain a better understanding of how certain concepts work.

 


Lastly, I encourage you to begin writing your own songs. The exploration involved with composing is far and away the most intrinsically rewarding part of playing music. The whole point of becoming proficient with progressions and really getting to know your instrument is so that you are able express yourself as fully and as honestly as possible.

 

About the Author

Marc-Andre Seguin is the webmaster, “brains behind” and teacher on JazzGuitarLessons.net, the #1 online resource for learning how to play jazz guitar. He draws from his experience both as a professional jazz guitarist and professional jazz teacher to help thousands of people from all around the world learn the craft of jazz guitar.

 

 

 

 

5 Reasons You Should Learn to Play Guitar

Wednesday 17th July 2019 Guest Articles

From Jimmy Page to Alex Hutchings, Larry Carlton to Andy James music history has seen a lot of great guitarists. However, you don’t have to play the guitar on the world’s stage to enjoy or benefit from it. 

There’s no shortage of benefits when it comes to learning to play the guitar. From bettered brain activity to bragging rights, starting the guitar will be the best thing you’ve done in a long time. Here are six reasons to put aside your apprehensions and kick off those lessons!

1. Stimulates the brain

Learning the guitar can seriously stimulate the brain. Not only can guitar-playing improve your memory and concentration, but it will also enhance your spatial reasoning and make you better at multitasking. What with reading music or tab, developing a musical ear, and remembering those new patterns and chord shapes, your mind will love the challenge you’ve set. 

2. Improves health

For those of you that may have anxiety and other stress related illnesses, research has indicated that playing an instrument can actually lower blood pressure. 

Many first-time guitar players compare playing music to a form of therapy and consider it a way to “reset” mentally. Playing the guitar allows you to forget about “real life” for a while. You’re able to focus fully on learning your chords and arranging them into music. Before you know it, you’ll be the most chilled out you’ve been in weeks, months, maybe even years. 

3. Boosts creativity

Get out of robot-worker mode and exercise your creativity through playing the guitar. Even if you don’t consider yourself a typically creative person, music may be precisely the outlet that suits your kind of imagination. Whether you’re writing a new song, mastering an old classic or taking on a Masterclass, there’s space for innovation at every turn.

4. Another source of income

If you work hard and have a natural knack for the guitar, then you could reach a stage at which you’re able to actually sell your talent. 

A great way to get started as a professional musician is to play at events such as weddings, school proms, and birthday celebrations. The first gig is always the trickiest to land, but getting booked once can have a domino effect. At the same time as you’re doing the event circuit, you might think about joining groups in your local neighbourhood. Often, these gigs don’t pay quite as well, but they’re great exposure and will give you a heap of great contacts.

5. Make yourself more interesting

Having the ability to just pick up and play a guitar when you’re socialising makes you look more interesting to the people around you. Picking up this hobby can give you a real edge when it comes to social events and interactions. Use your new talent to entertain family, friends, or work colleagues. You’ll radiate self-confidence and a passion for music. People love well-rounded, surprising people, and taking up the guitar will make you just that.

 

Harper is an avid freelance writer residing in Auckland, New Zealand. In between writing and editing articles for blogs and sites such as About Giving, you’ll find her singing along to her favourite songs or learning to play the guitar. To discover more of her work, visit her personal blog: Harper Reid.

 

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