All the questions and answers that you see here
were asked by users of Access Rock to either
Mike Abbott, Analog Brothers
Amps, or Mark Tenorio

 


Click on A Question:

>Where to Mount A Strap Button?

>Should I practice Sitting or Standing?

>Reading Guitar Music With Chords

>How do I play solo runs?!!

>Soloing on Electric Guitar!!

>Shimmering tone like The Edge!

>70’s Funk Guitar Sound(7-5-07)

>Using Pentatonics in the Blues

>In What Order Should I Place My Effect Pedals?

>Problems with a Fender Squire Tremolo System

>How to get good-sounding pick slides?

>How to Play the Guitar With Small Hands(1-5-07)

>Problems with Strumming the Guitar

>Good Tone with Marshall JMP-1 and JCM 2000

>A High-Pitched Sound From My Guitar

>Buying a Good Gigging Amp

>Getting a Good Tone from my Marshall JMP-1

>Learning Satriani Solos by Ear

>Volume and Tone Knobs are dirty

>Kurt Cobain’s “MTV Unplugged” guitar!

>Transcribe Joe Satriani Licks

>Hints on playing punk

>What exactly is riffing?

>Using Noise Gates with a pedal board

 

 

Click Here to read older
archives!

Where to Mount Strap Button?

Q:
Where is the best place to mount an upper strap button on an acoustic guitar which is lacking one?

A: First define BEST…..hmmmm.
Best=point of balance.
Most manufactures do not put them on primarily due to balance reasons. Now knowing this, the BEST place to support an instrument is at the center of the butt end and tying it off at the headstock. Now if you wish to put it in the heel as most people do you will run the risk of cracking the heel if not properly drilled, crack the side or drop it while the strap is on due to balance problems.


4/1/2009

Should I practice Sitting or Standing?

Q:
Practice. Should I do it sitting or standing? I find that some things I can play great when I’m sitting and playing, but when I stand up and try to play the same thing I suck. I can’t very well play at clubs or in front of an audience sitting down. That only works for Jeff Healy.
Any help on this subject would be a great help.

A: This is easy. Stand up when you practice. Pretend that you are on stage and move around while you play. Practice stage moves. Check out our lesson on performance Tips


Reading Guitar Music with Chords

Q: i’ve been teaching myslef to play guitar. I am now starting on a new book by Will Shmid/Hal Leonard.
I’m learning chords (now where they are and how to play them) i’m having trouble understanding how to read it. They are starting with a song called Rock-a-my soul and on top of the bar is a C(chord), then there are little slashes / above almost every note.

Should I play the 5-string C chord for every slash or do I play the C chord only when there’s a (letter) C above the note ?

A: Hi…thanks for your question,

I think what you are saying is that there are 8 slashes per measure (bar). You would strum the C chord 8 times (1 strum per slash) probably alternating up and down strums. The notes on the staff don’t have anything to do with the slashes. Please check out our Strumming Basics Lesson!


How do I play solo runs?

Q:Hi my name is Ryan Gens, I’ve been playing guitar for a couple years now and have just begun to solo. So far I can play pretty decent solos, but have BIG TROUBLE with runs. How do you do them? Do you use pentatonics?  Diatonics? Which is best for a rock/ metal style song? Do you coil? Play straight scale runs? I can’t figure it out. Also my instructor says that he likes to change keys and run. But I have no idea what key to change to, and what type of scale I should use. PLEASE HELP!!!!!!

A: Hi…thanks for your question,

Yes, you can use pentatonics or diatonics for runs. You can execute the runs many ways:

1. down-up picking – use alternating picking for picked runs – this will make the run sound smoother. Try different patterns up the scale (order of notes in the scale) – 123, 234, 345, etc.., or 1234, 2345, 3456, etc.., or 1231, 2342, 3453, etc.. This will give you more options besides 12345678.

2. Slurring – pick only the first note on each string. The rest of the notes are hammer-ons (low to high) or pull-offs (high to low).

3. Tremolo picking – strum each note of the scale about 4 or 5 times really fast. You don’t need to play the whole scale, just use part of it.

Minor and Major Pentatonics or diatonics will work great for rock/metal. You should also learn many more scales – all minor diatonics (escpecially harmonic minor – used a lot in metal) and the modes of Major.

Changing keys and run – this is not necessary for playing great runs. What is necessary is practicing all of the scales that I mentioned until you have memorized them in many positions on the fingerboard, and until you can play them medium to fast speed using the techniques above. PRACTICE WITH THE METRONOME!


Soloing on Electric Guitar!

Q:Hi, I’d just like to tell you this is a rather cool site.
I have been playing for about a 2 years now. I used to play acoustic, but now I have purchased an electric and I am having some tough time soloing in it. I simply cant figure out the techniques such as sweep etc. I have my first electric performance due next week please help me cover some good killer playing techniques.

A: Hi…thanks for your question,

Soloing or improvising requires different skills and knowledge. You don’t need to know how to sweep pick in order to solo well. Here are some things you need to work on:

1. Scale knowledge – Learn blues, minor pentatonic, major pentatonic, Major, minor and other scales.

2. Soloing Techniques and Concepts – you need to know many techniques such as slides, hammer-ons, bends, vibratos, double notes, etc..


2. Soloing Techniques and Concepts – you need to know many techniques such as slides, hammer-ons, bends, vibratos, double notes, etc.. Look at all of our soloing lessons!


Shimmering tone like The Edge!

Q:
Hi,
I have a blues driver pedal from boss and also a Digital delay, the DL6 I think its called I was wondering what tips you would give me to find a nice shimmering tone using the 2 together…..a good example of what I’m looking for is the tone the edge has when playing all I want is you live….

A: Hi…thanks for your question,

First off, it’s going to be very difficult to get a similar sound as The Edge with a couple of pedals. The Edge uses a huge rack full of studio-quality delays, and he uses vintage Vox AC-30 amps running in stereo which makes for a huge guitar sound. Then, you need to factor in how great of a player the Edge is! That said, here’s what you can do:

Set the blues driver to give you just a little overdrive, On your amp, turn the mids and highs up. Experiment with these tone settings quite a bit. The Edge often uses what is called a dotted-eighth note delay. If you know a little music theory, this means that the delay happens exactly three sixteenth notes after your original note.


70’s Funk Guitar Sound

 

Q:
I am trying to get a funky 70’s disco style semi clean tone and cannot seem to get it. The sound is very similar to the early Chili Peppers. I play through a Fender Fat Strat, a Mesa Nomad amp and I use Chorus and sometimes wah for my effects. I am still not getting the right tone. I bought an envelope filter and that sounds terrible. Do you have any suggestions?

A: Hi…thanks for your question,

This should be an easy tone to get. Try either the 2nd, 3rd, or 4th pick up position on your Strat. Make sure your guitar tones are on 10. I’m not really familiar with the Nomad amp, but you don’t need any overdrive at all for the tone you’re referring to. You just need a good clean tone. Put the bass on 5, midrange, on 6, and the treble on 6.

Be sure to plug into the Wah-wah first, then the chorus, then the amp.


Using Pentatonics in the Blues

Q:
I’ve been comping on rhythm guitar for quite a few years now and am just exploring the world of leads and I am extremely impressed with your site. That being said I’m struggling with what I believe is a basic concept of lead guitar. That is, I think I can use the same blues scale through an entire song (re: “A” blues in Key of A) has dissonance is a preferred part of the blues but in other styles i.e. country, rock etc do I need to change the scale being used to reflect the chord changes or can I use, for instance, in the Key of A, the A pentatonic through the entire song? Does one scale fit all?
Using the same scale in a pop/rock or country tune doesn’t seem quite clean enough and sometimes a little sour.

A: Hi…thanks for your question,

Hi,

Very good questions.

Do you think of the A pentatonic (which is really called an A Major Pentatonic) as A, B, C#, E, F#? An A minor pentatonic scale is different: A, C, D, E, G, A. Use A Major pentatonic over any chords in the key of A Major and it will sound great. Use A minor pentatonic or A blues scale when you are in the key of A minor.

Some pop/rock or country songs sometimes veer out of the chords in a key. When this happens, you usually need to change your scale. For example, look at this progression:

| A C#m | D E | F G | A |

The first 2 measures are in the key of A Major (use A pentatonic or A Major scale). The 3rd measure veers out of that key. The F and G chord are in the key of C Major or A minor (the relative minor of C Major). Therefore, you can go to your A minor pentatonic or A minor scale on those 2 chords.

If you need help on chords progressions or keys, click on the links below:


Problems with a Fender Squire Tremolo System.

Q:
I have a Fender Squire with a tremolo system. The
tremolo is tilting toward the neck so that it can be
pulled up. How can I get it to set flat on the body
again? Did my springs lose tension or is it something
else? Thanks.

A: Hi…thanks for your question,

There is a simple explanation for this. The tremolo springs in the back of your guitar’s body are not tight enough, or if you have only one or two springs you need to add another.

The bridge system is attached to springs which are in the back of the guitar. The springs are attached to a small plate which is screwed into the body of the guitar. To set the bridge flat to the body, just tighten those screws that are on the plate. That’s it!!

Now, if you would like to change the feel of your tremolo, take a spring or two out (they come off easily). Two or three springs works well when using the tremolo bar.


In What Order Should I Place My Effect Pedals?

Q:
I Got the basics from your site, other sites and knowledge of myself and others that I have spoken to. Wondering where my Ernie Ball volume pedal and Boss Loop Station go in this collection – guitar, Dunlop wah, soldano supercharger overdrive, boss dd3 delay, boss tuner, boss super chorus, boss phlanger, ts9 (may get rid of), boss loop, fender deville 2×12. Actually, would love to have your opinion on where to put everything. Amp has a loop for effects, haven’t been using it correctly.

A: Hi…thanks for your question,

The best place for your boss loop, boss delay, flanger, super-chorus is in your amps effects loop. Ambient effects like these always sound best in an effects loop rather than between the guitar and amp. You’ll hear a marked difference in the quality of these effects when they are in the effects loop. Put these effects in this order: delay, loop, flanger, super-chorus, tuner (flanger and superchorus can be interchanged).

Between the guitar and amp, here’s your order: Wah-Wah, Volume, overdrive, TS9. Here’s another tip. If you want to tune your guitar silently while on stage, you should pick up a boss line selector pedal. Put this pedal between your volume and overdrive. Plug the tuner into the B output of the Line Selector. Set the line selector to A-B mode. If you engage A, you’ll hear your guitar and all of the pedals. If you engage B, you won’t hear the guitar, but you can tune silently. This is an invaluable asset on stage.


How to get good-sounding pick slides?

Q:
I’m sure this sounds dumb, but I have been trying and trying to get good sounding pick slides, like when your moving into the Chorus of a song, and I can’t seem to get it right. It just sounds wrong, any tips would be much appreciated. Your website is awesome, thank you.

A: Hi…thanks for your question,

Thanks for your question. There is more than one way to execute a pick slide.

I use the wide edge of my pick on the bottom two or three strings (the wound strings). You can either slide the pick towards the head stock or slide the pick towards the bridge. The latter is useful when you need to play a chord immediately after the slide…just like when your moving to the Chorus of a song. It is important for the pick to touch the strings lightly. If you press down too hard with the pick, you’ll lose the sound.


Problems with Strumming the Guitar

Q:Hi.. I have been playing for 2 years now and I need major help on strumming! Everytime I strum, my pick starts to slip from my fingers. When I do basic down,up,down,up strums, my fingers seem to hit the strings rather than the pick. When I see players like Kurt Cobain strum he seems so comfortable makes no mistakes. I even started using the thinnest picks I could find and that didn’t help. lash uses thick picks and he strums well too. my friends in school strum better and i get annoyed to hell.

A:Thanks for your question,
Here are some answers:

1. Every time I strum my pick starts to slip from my fingers – Try using a pick that has a rougher texture. Dunlop and some other companies make these. Of course, grip the pick a little more firmly.

2. My fingers seem to hit the strings rather than the pick – You should grip the pick so that about a quarter of the pick is beneath your thumb and index finger.

3. Is it ok for your pick to some times hit the body and pickups underneath the strings while strumming – The pick should not hit the pickups. If it does, there is a chance that your pickups are set too close to the strings. You can adjust them so that they are further away from the strings.

I always consult the Guitar Player Repair Guide

4.  Why do I see some guitarists strum using their wrist where as others move their whole arm up and down? which one of these is correct? This really boils down to personal preference. I teach my students to use both the arm and the wrist for basic strums. Some strums require more wrist, some require more arm movement.

5.  I hold the pick with my thumb and index finger. what do i do with my free fingers, curl them into a fist or have them sticking out a bit? I have the rest of my fingers loose and slightly curled.

You should watch a lot of well-known players strum. Imitate what they do, then experiment and try to find what works best for you.


Good Tone with Marshall JMP-1 and JCM 2000

Q:I have a problem getting a good sound on my guitar amp when the volume is all the way up. The sound is piercing my ears (maybe that is the way it should be?). I have a Marshall JMP-1 which goes to a Marshall JCM 2000 DSL 201 amp (I insert the JMP into the “return” on the back of my amp). I also have T.C. electronic G-major. Maybe it is the reverb I don’t know. The input signal is set as it was explained in the T.C. manual. Maybe it’s the output signal. My guitar is Ibanez 550EX and it has got V7 humbucker as a neck pickup and V8 humbucker as the bridge pickup. In the middle ther is the S1 single. The sound is good at low volumes but when I turn the volume all the way up I have to bring down the pressence and treble. I would also like you to give me some advice on how to mike the amp and setting the frequencies on the mixer chanell because I don’t get the sound of my amp out on the large speakers. Please help !!!

A:Thanks for your question.

Hi John,

Thanks for the inquiry. From the description of your set up, it seems that
you’re using the JCM 2000 DSL as a power amp only, with the JMP-1 as the
preamp. The best way to go about finding a tone is to minimize the setup,
then add components gradually until it’s complete. In your situation, start
without the TC box. Feed the JMP-1 to the DSL as you’ve been doing. Do not
use the “speaker emulator” outputs, as you’re going to be using a cabinet.
They are primarily for “DI” usage.

A good starting point is to have the tone controls a bit less than half
way up, presence on zero, gain controls minimum and master volume controls
up all the way. Remember the the presence control on the DSL will still work,
as it’s part of the power amp section.
Gradually turn up the gain controls until you’re starting to get the tone
you’re after. At this point, start working with the tone or eq to further
shape the sound. When you close in on the tone, most likely it’s going to
be a bit too loud; at this point turn down the master volume a bit and then
bring one of the gains up to compensate. Presence controls should be used
sparingly like a strong spice; a little goes a long way, and too much will
make the tone “ear bleeding”. The best use for the presence control is to add
just a bit of “shimmer” to the top end, or to help cut through the
drums/cymbals on stage. It’s a very fine point between just right and too
much!

Note that as the sensitivity of the ear changes at different frequencies;
as you’ve found you have to add highs at lower volumes and reduce them at
higher volumes. This is normal, and you should never end up with a piercing
sound. A setting that works well at low volumes probably won’t work well at
higher volumes and the converse is true.

If you’re now happy with the basic tone, it’s time to put the TC into the
signal path. There are a few ways to do this; first, would be if the JMP-1
has an fx loop. If so, determine if it’s a series or parallel type. If
series, set the TC mix control about halfway. If it’s a parallel loop, set
the TC for full “wet”. The other way to connect it is between the JMP-1
output and the DSL return. In this case, set the mix about halfway, as this
is the equivalent of a series loop.
Be careful with the input gain attenuator on the TC so as not to
overload it, then use the output level to make up any lost gain. Spend some
time working with the programs to optimize them for your specific
requirements. Most factory programs are designed primarily for demonstration
of the units’ capabilities and are usually far too extreme for normal use.
Read the manual carefully and plan on spending quite a bit of time
re-programming the presets.

Mic’ing an amp is somewhat a trial and error situation. A good starting
point would be to use the old standard Shure SM57 placed about 6-12″ from
one speaker on about a 45 degree angle between the middle and outer edge of
the cone. Depending on the type of mic preamp or console, the eq will vary
considerably, but remember it’s always better to cut than to boost. Engage
the low pass filter to minimize l/f leakage and floor vibrations, use the
high pass filter or the highest frequency band of eq to cut at about 6K or
so and up, then sweep the midband(s) to optimize. This will take a lot of
experimentation and will definitely vary significantly at every different
venue, practice room or studio. It will be different with the room empty at
sound check and full during performance as well. This is where an
experienced FOH engineer can really help out. Trust them as they know the
system and room better than you will, and work toward a balanced
presentation of the ensemble rather than the “ultimate” guitar tone.

Keep working with your gear and trying different approaches; as you get
more familiar with it’s capabilities it will become easier to quickly “get
a sound”. Take the time to learn the relationships between the preamp,
power amp, fx unit and speaker cabinets and keep experimenting till you get
there. Write back if you have any other questions and best of luck.


High-pitched Sound From My Guitar

Q:
I’m currently playing on a Epiphone Les Paul Custom and when I blast my amp (marshall valvestate avt275) on overdrive, a high pitch sound is created immediatley after I stop playing when my tone is up. There’s also annoying noise in the backround when I play. I was wondering what can be done… like if the Boss noise supressor would be effective or not, or buying new pickups.  I’m am still using the stock humbucker pickups. 

A:Thanks for your question.

Hi John,

Thanks for the inquiry. A possible cause of your problem could be a loose
pickup winding; does this happen with both pickups? Try each one and see if
it only occurs on only one of them. If it occurs with either pickup,
there’s still a chance that both pickups have problems (a bad “batch” from
manufacturing could have caused two defects to end up in your instrument).
If you use another guitar and the same settings on the amp, see if still
happens. If the problem occurs with another guitar, we’ll have to revisit
your amp set up and control configuration.

If one of both pickups are indeed bad, about the only remedy is to replace
the pickup or to have it re-potted. When pickups are manufactured, they are
dipped (“potted”) into a molten wax or other damping compound to minimize
individual windings from moving.

Re-potting is a procedure where the pickup is heated until the wax or other
damping substance inside can melt further into the windings to minimize
vibrations and resonances. I’m not at all sure this is possible with your
specific pickups (some are epoxy potted and this won’t melt); you’d have to
speak with one of the pickup repair/rewinding shops. It may be easier and
less expensive to just replace them, particularly if you think a different
pickup could enhance your tone.

Please get back to us and let us know what you’ve found out so we can
offer some further tips. At this point, don’t invest any $ into external
noise suppression electronics as they’ll adversely effect your tone and
probably won’t help with this type of problem.


Buying A Good "Gigging" Amp

Q:
I have this amp which is really small, and I want to start gigging, but I don’t know what amp to buy. I’m into metal, blues, and most other stuff. I’ve thought about getting a Mesa Boogie Rectifier, but I have heard that they are a waste of money….any suggestions?

A:Thanks for your question.

Hi Rick,

Thanks for your question. Mesa Boogie is a fantastic amp company…their amps are never a waste of money!! It sounds like you’re looking for an amp that can give you a wide variety of sounds. There are a few amps that can give you this versatility while at the same time packing enough punch to fill up a club.

Let’s start by talking about amp power. You will most likely be playing small to medium size clubs it sounds like. You need a minimum of 40 watts to fill up a small club while playing with a full band. A nice feature to look for in this size amp is a line out. The line out can be run into a P.A mixer (the board) so that you’re tone will be pumped through the PA system. This is great when playing larger venues, or when the acoustics are really “live” in a room.


Getting a Good Tone from my Marshall JMP-1

Q:
I have a problem setting a good sound on my guitar amp when the volume is all the way up. The sound is piercing my ears (maybe that is the way it should be?). I have a Marshall JMP-1 which goes to a Marshall JCM 2000 DSL  201 amp (I insert the JMP into the “return” on the back of my amp). I also have T.C. electronic G-major. Maybe it is the reverb I don’t know. The input signal is set as it was explained in the T.C. manual. Maybe it’s the output signal. My guitar is Ibanez 550EX and it has got V7 humbucker as a neck pickup and V8 humbucker as the bridge pickup. In the middle ther is the S1 single. The sound is good at low volumes but when I turn the volume all the way up I have to bring down the pressence and treble. I would also like you to give me some advice on how to mike the amp and setting the frequencies on the mixer chanell because I don’t get the sound of my amp out on the large speakers. Please help !!!

A:Thanks for your question.

Thanks for the inquiry. From the description of your set up, it seems that
you’re using the JCM 2000 DSL as a power amp only, with the JMP-1 as the
preamp. The best way to go about finding a tone is to minimize the setup,
then add components gradually until it’s complete. In your situation, start
without the TC box. Feed the JMP-1 to the DSL as you’ve been doing. Do not
use the “speaker emulator” outputs, as you’re going to be using a cabinet.
They are primarily for “DI” usage.

A good starting point is to have the tone controls a bit less than half
way up, presence on zero, gain controls minimum and master volume controls
up all the way. Remember the the presence control on the DSL will still work,
as it’s part of the power amp section.
Gradually turn up the gain controls until you’re starting to get the tone
you’re after. At this point, start working with the tone or eq to further
shape the sound. When you close in on the tone, most likely it’s going to
be a bit too loud; at this point turn down the master volume a bit and then
bring one of the gains up to compensate. Presence controls should be used
sparingly like a strong spice; a little goes a long way, and too much will
make the tone “ear bleeding”. The best use for the presence control is to add
just a bit of “shimmer” to the top end, or to help cut through the
drums/cymbals on stage. It’s a very fine point between just right and too
much!

Note that as the sensitivity of the ear changes at different frequencies;
as you’ve found you have to add highs at lower volumes and reduce them at
higher volumes. This is normal, and you should never end up with a piercing
sound. A setting that works well at low volumes probably won’t work well at
higher volumes and the converse is true.

If you’re now happy with the basic tone, it’s time to put the TC into the
signal path. There are a few ways to do this; first, would be if the JMP-1
has an fx loop. If so, determine if it’s a series or parallel type. If
series, set the TC mix control about halfway. If it’s a parallel loop, set
the TC for full “wet”. The other way to connect it is between the JMP-1
output and the DSL return. In this case, set the mix about halfway, as this
is the equivalent of a series loop.
Be careful with the input gain attenuator on the TC so as not to
overload it, then use the output level to make up any lost gain. Spend some
time working with the programs to optimize them for your specific
requirements. Most factory programs are designed primarily for demonstration
of the units’ capabilities and are usually far too extreme for normal use.
Read the manual carefully and plan on spending quite a bit of time
re-programming the presets.

Mic’ing an amp is somewhat a trial and error situation. A good starting
point would be to use the old standard Shure SM57 placed about 6-12″ from
one speaker on about a 45 degree angle between the middle and outer edge of
the cone. Depending on the type of mic preamp or console, the eq will vary
considerably, but remember it’s always better to cut than to boost. Engage
the low pass filter to minimize l/f leakage and floor vibrations, use the
high pass filter or the highest frequency band of eq to cut at about 6K or
so and up, then sweep the midband(s) to optimize. This will take a lot of
experimentation and will definitely vary significantly at every different
venue, practice room or studio. It will be different with the room empty at
sound check and full during performance as well. This is where an
experienced FOH engineer can really help out. Trust them as they know the
system and room better than you will, and work toward a balanced
presentation of the ensemble rather than the “ultimate” guitar tone.

Keep working with your gear and trying different approaches; as you get
more familiar with it’s capabilities it will become easier to quickly “get
a sound”. Take the time to learn the relationships between the preamp,
power amp, fx unit and speaker cabinets and keep experimenting till you get
there. Write back if you have any other questions and best of luck.

re-programming the presets.

Mic’ing an amp is somewhat a trial and error situation. A good starting
point would be to use the old standard Shure SM57 placed about 6-12″ from
one speaker on about a 45 degree angle between the middle and outer edge of
the cone. Depending on the type of mic preamp or console, the eq will vary
considerably, but remember it’s always better to cut than to boost. Engage
the low pass filter to minimize l/f leakage and floor vibrations, use the
high pass filter or the highest frequency band of eq to cut at about 6K or
so and up, then sweep the midband(s) to optimize. This will take a lot of
experimentation and will definitely vary significantly at every different
venue, practice room or studio. It will be different with the room empty at
sound check and full during performance as well. This is where an
experienced FOH engineer can really help out. Trust them as they know the
system and room better than you will, and work toward a balanced
presentation of the ensemble rather than the “ultimate” guitar tone.

Keep working with your gear and trying different approaches; as you get
more familiar with it’s capabilities it will become easier to quickly “get
a sound”. Take the time to learn the relationships between the preamp,
power amp, fx unit and speaker cabinets and keep experimenting till you get
there. Write back if you have any other questions and best of luck.


Learning Satriani Solos by Ear

Q: I`ve got some questions like what kind of pick should i use – hard, soft, or medium?

I’m too a great fan of joe satriani and his songs and tracks ive been very much occupied by his styles and shreds.
I want to know how to listen to a solo, and play it the most accurately from a tape recorder. Many times i`ve tried to listen to Joe`s music and tried to play it, but I can’t because the licks are too fast.
How do I catch the real fast riffs of any guitarists like joe ,eric ,EC etc?? is their any way to practice hearing power?

A:Thanks for your question.

Question 1– The thickness and brand of pick that you use is really up to you. Every guitar player is a little bit different when it comes to picks. For electric guitar, 99% of players choose medium picks or heavier, not thin picks. Try different pick brands, sizes, and thicknesses to see what sounds and feels the best to you.

Question 2 – Transcribing or copying guitar parts by listening is a skill that takes a lot of practice. Taking off some extremely fast phrases is nearly impossible without slowing the song down. There are devices that you can buy that will slow down the speed of a song or cut out instruments that you don’t want to hear.


Volume and Tone Knobs are noisy

Q: i just bought an ibanez guitar on ebay, (for good or bad) hopefully good. The body is in great shape, but the electronics are a bit noisy. I have to toggle, shake the cord to get any noise at all, the knobs are “gritty” when turned up down. im going to clean the electronics with contact cleaner, and make sure the cord fits snug in the plug. I’m assuming its a no no, but could you spray this electrical contact cleaner in or on the pick ups? I know they are “electrical” but figured I would ask before I screw up my new ibanez more than it is..thanks guys. i just found your site about a week ago, its AWESOME. I’ve been goin over all the lessons and the old fingers are coming back to me..the info is great as well…thanks again..Dave

A:Thanks for your question.

No, you don’t want to spray the contact cleaner on the pickups! Here is what you should do in order of importance:

1. Try a brand new guitar cable (cord). If the cord that you’re using has an open (a spot where the wires have split), this would account for part or all of the noise problem.

2. Spray contact cleaner in the toggle switch. The toggle contacts can get dirty over time and can cause noise when moving the toggle switch. You can also remove the volume and tone knobs, spray the contact cleaner on the pole, and that will clean the potentiometers.

3. Check to see that the nut on the guitar jack (the jack is the hole on the guitar where the cord plugs into) is tight. If it is not, tighten it with the correct size socket wrench.

4. If you have experience soldering wires, you can open up the pick guard and check to see that the wires coming from the pickups are solidly attached to the toggle switch, and that the wires between the toggle switch and the volume and tone knobs are solidly attached. If you do not have experience soldering and you are not familiar with the wire connections on an electric guitar, take the guitar to a qualified guitar repairman.


Kurt Cobain’s “MTV Unplugged” guitar!

Q: I’m trying to find a guitar with a similar sound to the one Kurt Cobain uses on Unplugged. Apparently this was a 1968 Martin d-18e with 2 pick-ups on the outside of the instrument. Would any other electro-acoustics compare that are available easily now? Also…can you put electro-acoustics through distortion – is that how he got his buzz tone on “Man who sold the world”?

Please help me! I don’t get much of a chance otherwise to get out to guitar shops to get advice – my 19 month old daughter prevents it! My budget is about $500.

A:Thanks for your question.

It will be very hard to replicate the exact sound of this instrument because of the unusual mounting of the pickups. However, there are many acoustic/electric guitars (Takamine, Martin, Taylor, Yamaha, Ibanez) which have piezo pickups under the bridge and will sound very good. You can also buy a plain acoustic and buy a pickup which you can put into the sound hole yourself. With this pickup, you can take it out or put it in whenever you want. They sound quite good also. The pickup used in Cobain’s Martin was a Dearmond.

In answer to your other question, yes, Cobain plugged straight into a distortion pedal from his Martin. He used Boss DS-1, DS-2, and other distortion pedals.

Good luck in your search!


Transcribe Joe Satriani Licks

Q: I have trouble transcribing Joe Satriani Licks..and what kind of picks should I use?
What kinda pick should I use? Should it be hard, soft, or medium?
I’m a great fan of Joe Satriani and I’ve been very occupied by his styles and shreds. I wanted to know how to listen to a solo and play it accurately from a tape recorder. Joe’s licks are sometimes so fast that I am unable to hear what he plays! How do I catch the real fast riffs of any guitarists like joe ,Eric Johnson,Eric Clapton, etc… is there a way to improve my ear so that I can hear and transcribe this stuff??

A:Thanks for your question.

Question 1 – The thickness and brand of pick that you use is really up to you. Every guitar player is a little bit different when it comes to picks. For electric guitar, 99% of players choose medium picks or heavier, not thin picks. Try different pick brands, sizes, and thicknesses to see what sounds and feels the best to you.

Question 2 – Transcribing or copying guitar parts by listening is a skill that takes a lot of practice. Taking off some extremely fast phrases is nearly impossible without slowing the song down. There are devices that you can buy that will slow down the speed of a song or cut out instruments that you don’t want to hear.


Hints on Playing Punk

Q:
Can you give any hints on playing punk and how do I play a chromatic scale?

A:Thanks for your question.

Thanks for your question. Punk is a word which covers many different types of bands. You should begin with learning power chords and bar chords. This way, you can learn how to play the easier punk songs by The Ramones, The Clash, Green Day, The Sex Pistols, Blink 182, and more.


Using Noise Gates with a pedal board

Q:
I have a noise question I hope you can help me with. I currently play a strat through a bunch of effects into a Marshall JCM 2000 401 Combo, which is an amp I love. Anyway, recently as i have been adding effects, I have been hearing hissing noise through the amp, even without me playing.ÊA friend told me to check out noise gates but I don’t know which one does the best job of cutting the hiss but leaving my tone alone!!? So, which would you recommend to add to my effects chain. I currently run my strat into a Boss Chromatic tuner, Boss Compressor, Boss Blues drive, Ibanez TS9, Crybaby wah, Line 6 Modulation ML4, Boss Delay DD6 and Line 6 Delay Modulator DL4……in that order.

A:

Hi Rob,

The series connection of many FX can certainly cause noise problems, as well as general signal degradation. The first thing I’d suggest is taking the tuner out of the signal path. Tuners absolutely KILL guitar tone. Get a switch box that enables you to simultaneously send to the tuner and mute the main path; be sure it is a 100% true bypass switch box.

Next, find a pedal that acts as a “line driver” or a unity gain boost. Place this first in the chain. It will help “push” the signal through all the rest of the devices and isolate the pick ups.

You only want to use a noise gate as a last resort. Be sure all of your cables are top notch, connections are all good, power supplies, grounding and general layout are perfect. It take a while to optimize a pedal board that has more than a couple of devices, but it’s worth the effort. Go to Analog Man’s site and look at some of the bypass boxes he makes. Consider placing some of your FX into loops so they are not in line all the time. The Line 6 devices are all pretty noisy and not good for your signal. They do not 100% bypass as far as I know.

Now, if you’ve done that and still have a noise problem, perhaps you can consider a gate. The way they work is to clamp down during low/no signal conditions and “mute”. The problems are that they can be difficult to set to where they don’t cut off lightly picked notes or cut on and off too fast. I’m not familiar with the ones you mention, but try to find one that has the most flexible control possibilities. In addition to the usual level and threshold controls, look for one with variable attack and release settings. These will allow you to fine tune how it behaves.

Good luck with your set up and let us know how you make out.