That right there is a title. It’s a good title, as far as titles go. It tells you exactly what I’m gonna do! (It’s probably a horrible lie.)
Today, I’m in the mood to write something. I feel pretty good, actually. I was even able to smoke some pot. Damned right and about time!
That was probably a bad idea, ’cause I haven’t been able to smoke much lately and imbibed a ton of it. Hindsight is 20/20 and I now see that I didn’t think my plan through very well.
After much inner-discussion, I narrowed down the list of things I was going to write about. Trust me, you don’t actually want to know the subjects that were cut from the list, but they had very little to do with guitar and things like fake Grange Hall conspiracies were on the list.
It’s probably important for me to tell you the complete truth. It is that I don’t actually yet know what guitar I’m gonna tell you about. Not a clue, really. I’m pretty sure I’ll think of something!
Hmm… I should do a series on guitars that were horrible, horrible ideas. I’m probably not gonna, but I should do that.
But… The plan is to write about a guitar. I can’t actually say that’s what I’m gonna do, but I remain hopeful! So, get in the car! We’re going on a grand adventure!
~*hands you a rusty screwdriver, half-eaten fruit roll-up, and an old film canister filled with pennies*~
If you’re a fan of this guitar, you may wish to use the little X button in the upper right part of your browser or to make judicious use of the back button. I’ve been debating writing this for a day or two and I’m not sure if this is a direction that I want to take site’s articles – but it seems likely that they’ll go there.
Let’s start with a story, shall we? The only problem is, this is a story that can begin in any number of different places – and end in a bunch more places.
If you recall, I recently had to take a trip with my drummer. He’s a good kid (if mid-30s is still a kid) and is very skilled at drumming. What he is not so skilled at is driving.
But, skipping that topic entirely, he’s also not a very skilled guitar player. He’s so gonna read this. That’s okay, he knows his guitar playing isn’t up to snuff – nor is it expected to be. He told me a friend had an excellent guitar that he wanted to sell.
This close friend of his this guitar that he was interested in selling and, because I’m afflicted with a horrible disease, I told ’em to bring it by and I’d give it a test drive for a few days. I’d then decide if it was something I’d be interested in owning at the asking price.
It was on that recent trip that he dropped off a Dillion DR 450, in a gig bag (!) and with a note asking if I’d take a look at the intonation. I’d never played one before but it can’t be that different to fix intonation issues.
I just recently wrote about a magical guitar and that was actually based on a few comments I’d had in reply, an email, and a private message. One thing led to another and you ended up with that article.
It’s what I do!
Anyhow, I have decided to write some more about that guitar company – but with a bit of history.
The ‘net is right full of sites that will give you free lessons with which to learn to play guitar. There’s even whole forums dedicated to mastering classical guitar. There’s speed metal, neo-classical metal, folk, hard rock, classic rock, and progressive rock forums – all dedicated to teaching you how to play guitar.
They do a pretty good job teaching and, frankly, you all seem to enjoy this sort of stuff more. Having had careers that meant performing, I’m acclimated to giving people what they want. It’s in my blood. It makes me happy to see your comments and to see the number of times y’all read these silly things.
So, surely I’ll continue to write and call them lessons – even if they don’t seem like things you need to know if you want to play Smoke On The Water.
I have no shame. None. I sold that, probably long before you were born. In the 1980s, I played a keytar – on stage. I didn’t just play it – I played it like a fucking rock star. I’ve played Madonna’s Material Girl, live and on stage.
I shouldn’t quite say I have no shame ’cause. if I had recordings from that period of my life, I wouldn’t share them with you. Wait… No, I have no shame ’cause I’d giggle like a little schoolgirl and share them with you. I’d even track the number of times they were listened to.
I’m not sure, now that I think about it. It may be that I have no shame – or that I’m incapable of being embarrassed. When it comes to music, I “sold out” long ago. When it comes to being embarrassed, I can (and will) tell corny jokes on stage. Not just corny jokes – but the kind of jokes you get from a Popsicle stick. Worse, if I’m inebriated, I may make bad puns – for the whole show.
Sort of related, I once had a drummer (everyone say hello to Wog) who knew me very well. He’d punctuate my bad jokes with the drum.
Because I have no shame, I seem to have recently taken the platform of my blog to write about any damned thing I want. That’s fine – but the shameless part is that I call them “lessons.”
I get a few questions and have developed some stock answers to them. One of the questions that I get is, “What kind of guitar should I get?”
My stock answer is, “Ibanez, any model.”
First, it’s their first guitar and, truthfully, it’s most likely to be used for a few months and then used as a decoration after a few months go by and people realize that it’s difficult to learn to play guitar.
Yes, yes it is difficult to learn to play guitar well. No, it’s not impossible and anyone can probably do it. It’s just a lot of work. For a small subset of people, it comes naturally. Don’t count on it. Count on it taking thousands and thousands of hours of practice.
So, if nothing else, an Ibanez looks good on the wall and is perfectly playable for those times when their buddy shows up and actually can play guitar. Which is a bonus…
There are so many models of guitar that I am not sure anyone can ever be an expert with regards to all of them. There are variations by year, custom orders, short-lived models, and more.
Well, the Gibson Les Paul (GLP) is no exception. If you ever decide you want to become a collector, then collecting the various GLP models is a stupid place to start.
That’s right, I just said it’s stupid. Why?
Because there’s tons of them. I have a pretty nice collection and not even I have them all. But, they come with so many variations that you’ll be a lifetime just getting half of the models.
Alright, for the purpose of this discussion, we’re going to have three different types of guitar body. We have a solid body, a semi-hollow body, and a hollow body. We’re also going to limit ourselves to discussing just electric guitars. Yes, you can get sound from an unamplified semi- or hollow body guitar. Skip it. I’m not writing a damned encyclopedia for you.
Alright, TheBuddha, now you’re just being confusing.
Well, sit down and take notes ’cause I’m only going to say this once.
Solid Body: This is a guitar body made out of a single piece of wood (typically) and will have no chambers designed to resonate.
It gets weird here, but trust me… A good thick solid body (like a GLP) will have oodles of sustain, is pretty easy to lay on effects, and is much easier to amplify louder with less feedback. Not that you can’t do that with the other models, but that requires skill and can be a bit of an art form learned over decades.
These are guitars like the Fender Stratocaster, Gibson SG, or the Fender Telecaster. This is what one might look like:
Hollow Body: This guitar will have lots of resonating space – it’s usually pretty much like an acoustic in regards to the fact that it’s mostly empty. I really shouldn’t have to explain this, but I feel compelled to.
This bad boy is lovely for jazz or even amplification of classical music. You get deep, rich, vibrant tones – and lots of clear bass. And, you get feedback if you go too loud, effects may sound muddied, and (believe it or not) they’ll often get less sustain.
It takes some work to truly master the sound from a hollow body electric guitar. I do not recommend folks start with one. They might look something like this:
Semi-Hollow Body: Somewhere between the hollow and solid lies the middle. There are so many different kinds that I am not even going to bother trying to list them all.
You’ll get a wonderful blend of tone, sustain, and ease of play. There’s a bunch of models but the one for this topic is the GLP ES. It looks like this:
And that, folks, is the holy grail. Oh, there are many other fine GLP models. There’s the Studio, the Junior, and countless other models. But, that one right there is the perfect blend of sustain, ideal weight (though a little light for my taste), ease of adding effects, warmth of tone, durability, and value for price.
If you’ve already got a GLP and want to plunk a few more bucks down, then the ES model is a very, very fine choice.
Now, to my point! (I typed all that just so that I could type this.)
Most folks are only familiar with the solid-body GLP but there are a number of different models that span many, many years and have many variations. It’ll take a lifetime to collect all of them, but I’ve never met a GLP I didn’t like. I have a great fondness for the ES model, but not many musicians play them. So, as I typically do covers, I seldom get the chance to play them for other people.
Either way, there’s some history/lesson/gibberish stuff for you. I’m not sure if this will help you understand anything, nor am I sure what I’ll write about next, but it’s something and something is often better than nothing.
Now, shut up and play us a song! (And until next time…)
I know there are plenty of resources on the web for guitar lessons. Yet, I still keep feeling the need to add more to the list. The problem is, I can never really think of things to write about. So, today, I was playing a Gibson SG and I decided that’d be a fine thing to write about. Continue reading “Let’s talk about the Gibson SG!”
There are some misconceptions about the origins of the electric guitar. Many people credit Les Paul with the invention – but that’s not true. He just helped make it perfect. No, the story is stranger than that. It’s so strange that we’re going to ignore the various attempts and stick with the first viable electric guitar.
Way back before any of us was hatched, a fella by the name of George Beauchamp used to play in a Hawaiian band. Never mind that he wasn’t actually from Hawaii, that’s not important. What matters is that he was a steel guitar player.
Now, a steel guitar (not to be confused with a pedal steel guitar) is played by putting the guitar, top up, across your lap as though you’re Jeff Healey. Then, you use a piece of steel to slide and fret your guitar. This, of course, is absolutely retarded.
I’m going to assume you know how a guitar works. By putting the guitar perpendicular across their lap and pointing the sound hole up, that means the sound goes into the ceiling and not into the audience. Like I said, it’s fucking retarded.
I will take a brief moment to point out that Country and Western music has steel guitar in it ’cause these same bands would play both genres and they’d play them with the same musical instruments. So, you ended up with steel guitar in country music and, eventually, pedal steel in country music. Most musicians don’t make much money. You play with what you’ve got – and they had a steel guitar. So, goat roping music has steel guitar in it.
Where was I? Oh, yes…
George Beauchamp didn’t like this very much and realized it was retarded. He was unable to get the volume out of the guitar that he needed to be heard along with the other instruments. (Important side note: It’d be a bit longer before the guitar moved to the front of the band.)
So, using magnets and coils, Beauchamp set about making himself an electrified guitar. Well, it pretty much sucked – but he was pretty pleased with himself. I’d like to think the first thing he played was a bitchin’ solo, but that’s unlikely because the bitchin’ solo hadn’t yet been invented. This was still the 1920s, after all.
Even though it sucked, George thought it was the best thing ever. He meandered all over California with his band and guitar. This would have been awesome, but did I mention it kind of sucked? Well, it did.
Eventually, and I’m not actually sure how, he met a fella by the name of Adolph Rickenbacker at Dopyera Brothers in Los Angeles, CA. It turns out, Adolf was a bit of an electrical engineer and was really interested in new technology. Working together, they fashioned themselves some pickups and probably worked on playing bitchin’ solos together.
It’s sort of important to note that they weren’t actually the first to amplify a guitar. No, the first amplified guitars were probably from the jazz guitarists and they weren’t actually commercially available.
It was about this time when they started making guitars out of metal. George and Adolf said, “Sweet.” Then, they put their pickups into these metal guitars. These guitars were shaped like long-handled frying pans and the “Frying Pan” electric guitar, and amplification, were born.
That was in 1931.
Strangely, there’s no story of misdeeds and intrigue. The Rickenbacker guitars are known as such ’cause Beauchamp is fucking hard for people to pronounce.
And those were the first commercially viable electric guitars. They weren’t invented to make bitchin’ solos. Nobody would leap around with ’em for years to come. They woudn’t move to the front of the band until the 1950s. They were invented so that they could play Hawaiian music at volumes loud enough to be heard with the rest of the band.
Don’t get me wrong, Hendrix was a good guitarist. He took things from other artists, put them together in a package all his own, and did things with the guitar (in totality) that other guitarists simply weren’t doing at the time.
But, listen to his live stuff. He couldn’t stay in key, couldn’t play the same thing twice, knew maybe a dozen basic progressions and scales, and was remarkably sloppy.
I won’t deny that he was influential. I can even say that he’s influenced me. I can also say, with some absolute certainty, that I can play everything Hendrix played and I can play it better than he did. It’s not hard. If you want something difficult, try Leyenda (Asturias).