Guitar Heroes – Big George Watt

Guitar Heroes – Big George Watt

Big George WattWho? You might well be asking but I had to include my local guitar hero Big George who sadly passed away just a year ago. With his band –“The Business”, George was as we say in Glasgow “a character” as much as he was a sublimely talented blues guitarist from Glasgow.

I couldn’d begin to guess at the number of times my friends and I saw Big George and the business play at bars like Shadows, Furlongs, Nibbs or Wypers in Glasgow. We used to form a dancing scrum at the front of the stage when they played and became friendly with the big guy and the rest of the band. We went to the same parties and George even played at my mate’s wedding.

Glasgow is full of bands so it takes a special talent to build the kind of reputation that George had. His playing took him to blues festivals all over the world and had him featured on bills that included Bo Diddley and Buddy Guy – two of the players who inspired this blues guitarist from Glasgow.

It used to be quite something to hear someone who was up there with his own Hero Rory Gallagher, Stevie Ray Vaughn and many other better known guitarists, giving it large in a tiny Glasgow bar. He was that good.  With The Business keeping it solid and steady behind him he just let us have it with a mix of blues classics, standards and his own brilliant songs.

Big George And The Business
Big George And The Business – Hat n braces

Sometimes George would let guest guitarists play a song with him and I was lucky to have shared a stage with him on one such night. George didn’t actually play the song we’d agreed on “help me babe” but I busked along with him anyway and as a result I didn’t sleep alone that night – there were lots of pretty ladies in the audience : ) (cheers big man !)

Kit wise George played a white Strat or Strat copy sometimes and favoured a little Peavey bandit amp (set to 11) a boss overdrive and the occasional touch of chorus. The sounds he was able to pull out of that lowly set up were truly awesome.

I don’t think he’d mind me saying he was fond of a drink or two and this led to some great banter. He was also a very funny guy. I remember one night when, worse for wear he actually puked on his guitar mid solo. He casually excused himself and, laying his guitar against the amp ran for the bog.

The Business just kept laying down their solid drum and bass as the amp started to produce a lovely feedback. Minutes later he was back. He just picked it up, caught the next beat and continued where he left off. One of the best things I’ve ever seen.

Glasgow had produced a legend or two over the years but none will be as sadly missed by me as Big George watt. Sadly in recent years his health had declined due to a stroke so I hadn’t seen the Glasgow bluesman play for quite some time but I can picture him playing perfectly and have some recordings which, along will a hundred great memories, will have to do.

 

R.I.P Big Man
R.I.P Big Man

Guitar Compressor Pedals

Guitar Compressor Pedals

guitar compressor pedalsMan I love a good compressor. Some years ago I discovered that with a good sounding amp a guitar compressor pedal  is a much better option than an overdrive or distortion pedal (although I love them too) The trouble is for recording purposes the overdrives and distortion pedals can actually make the guitar harder to place in the mix – they actually make the sound weaker strange as that may seem.

There are two types of compression really: The type that you use for a single source at instrument level – a pedal, and the type that you strap across channels in a mixing desk for use in recording and mixing.

The Two Types Of Compressor

The pedal version in simple terms squeezes the sound coming from the guitar pickups so that the amp is driven harder. This results in longer sustain, higher volume and an overall smoothness of sound – great for lead guitar playing.

guitar compressor pedals
The Line 6 M9 Pedal board includes their awesome compressor.

The other type is used to cut the dynamic range of a signal so that the quieter bits are louder. This makes it easier to make vocals sound bigger an fuller without distorting (digital distortion unlike valve or analogue distortion is hideous) This is probably the most used effect in digital recording, mixing and mastering. Technically its not an effect but a signal processor.

A Couple of Great Guitar Compressor Pedals

Anyway back to the one we are interested in here – the guitar compressor pedal. If you ever wonder how guys like Zak Wylde or Steve Vai get those crazy sounds – you know, the endless sustain and the little palm noises, squeals and controlled feedback stuff – it’s partly down to massive compression. Some from the tuned up amps they use and the rest from outboard compressors.

Basically all this compression makes the guitar and amp hyper sensitive so it’s often partnered up with a noise gate that stops things getting totally out of control!

My favourite compressor pedal is the Line 6 Tone Constrictor which I’ve been using for some years. It’s a nice chunky pedal that sits on stage firmly. The Constrictor has 3 settings – compact, sueeze and mellow, each offers a slightly different level of aggression which is further controlled by the level, gate and sustain controls. Sadly not available as a single pedal but incorporated in the M9 and other well – priced pedal boards by Line 6

This pedal does tend to eat batteries so a mains adaptor is highly recommended. I also have a little Danelectro Surf & Turf pedal which is a lot less highly featured with just level and sensitivity controls but it’s a useable little budget unit – good for that clean country twang or even the Dick Dale type of surf sound as the name suggests.

Boss – CS3 – Another great budget pedal

So if you haven’t yet experimented with compressors its time to get your feet wet and add a guitar compressor pedal to your arsenal.

 

How To Earn Extra Money Without A 9-5 Soul Sucker

How To Earn Extra Money Without A 9-5 Soul Sucker

musoSo here’s the thing. You want to make music, playing that guitar your whole life, , but you also want to make  money from your music too don’t you? You need to keep a roof over your head, eat, pay for all those band expenses: Rehearsal rooms, equipment, van hire to get everything and everyone to those hard won gigs – even when you have to sell tickets to your friends and family  to pay for the PA. It’s a pain when really all you really want to do is play – to get in front of people.

These days there are many more options to earn extra money to fund your passion without having to resort to the day job. I’ll tell you how I do it now in a minute.  At the end of the day a day job just sucks the soul out of you if it’s not what you want to be doing. Chances are you’ll suck at it anyway cos your heart is just not in it.

Living Your Dreams And Keeping Body And Soul Together

I’ve been there and I’ve also tried the starving artist thing – didn’t like it much. I remember when I worked as an AV technician while my band was doing a support tour with All About Eve. I was touring the country with the day job on a Financial roadshow (yeah it was dull !) and having to find time to make all the phone calls to arrange transport, time off, accommodation and to coordinate the other band members – Nightmare !!

earn extra money
Are you living the dream yet?

Since the support tour wasn’t actually paying us – other than plenty of food and booze, we also had to find time to burn CD’s in between day job and gig schedules so that we could sell them at the gigs to earn extra money. We came in with a slight profit in the end actually but it was hard work.  Remember you also have to put on a show in the tiny amount of time you are actually on stage between all the other crap in between.

Cooler Ways To Earn Extra Money And Get More Time For The Fun Stuff

Meantime technology has just been getting better and better. Look at what you can do at home now in terms of recording: Look at all the amp modelling and effects possibilities – never mind marketing. It’s the last point that made me realise that the 9-5 day job is just no longer necessary. You can make money online in exactly the same way that you no longer really need record companies to sell your music – you can do it online.

I make my living now doing digital marketing. This website is just one of the ways I make money so that I can spend more time with a guitar round my neck. I did this by learning the ropes – exactly like I learned how to play guitar in the first place. I went back to school, got some great teachers and now I have multiple income streams.

You see when you know how to market products and services online the right way – no scams or get rich crap – just earning commissions from selling whatever you like using automated systems, you can free up a ton of time. What can you do with that time – you guessed it – concentrate on your music.

Anything Is Possible These Days

I signed up to a training programme run by two of the coolest and most successful guys I’ve ever met after seeing some videos they made and I’ve never looked back. If this sounds like the solution you have been looking for to earn extra money, then you can see those videos by clicking on Zak’s Les Paul below – they’re free and they could be the best thing you ever do for you and your music. Too many great musicians give up because of the money thing – you don’t need to give up on living your dream anymore.

living your dream
Click On The Axe To Get Your Free Videos

Guitar Heroes – David Gilmour CBE

Guitar Heroes Dave Gilmour – Master Of Tasteful Guitar Playing

tasteful guitar playingSo good to get round to writing a few thoughts on the magnificent master of tasteful guitar playing that is Mr Dave Gilmour. When you think about the players that have pulled the most memorable sounds from the haloed Stratocaster you just can’t not mention this guy.

Two of The Most Famous Guitar Solos Of All Time

This is the man who played the famous guitar solos on songs like “Another Brick In the Wall” and “Comfortably numb”, (although rumour has it that he used a Les Paul for that) Those are two of the solo’s I can pretty much sing note for note I love them so much.

What Dave brings to the world of creative guitar playing is taste and tone for me. Never a shredder or a fancy tricks merchant, his playing is fluid, emotive and gorgeous in every way. His playing and vocals just fit with the whole Pink Floyd “Thang” perfectly – adding to the moods, complimenting the feel and fitting right in with one of the best and most successful bands of all time.

famous guitar solos

Die hard Floyd fans apparently were a little miffed when he was brought in to replace the late Syd Barrett, but lets face it – something had to be done. With a band as unique as Pink Floyd and a guitarist/Singer as enigmatic as Syd, this can’t have been an easy task but luckily they got it right.

 

Replacing Syd Can’t Have Been Easy

It’s pretty hard to actually conceive of just how successful Floyd became with Dave Gilmour at the helm. From an unusual psychedelic band with an increasingly erratic front man, they went on to become an institution to serious music fans the world over and a global multi national corporation..

Mr G’s Strat these days is a much-worked on thing. The pickups are non-standard, the wring has been altered and the tremolo system replaced many times over the years. For detail on the DG set up this is a great site to visit http://www.gilmourish.com/?page_id=66 He also uses Les Pauls and Telecasters frequently.

As far as effects go the current DG set up is immense but the early days saw much use of Big Muff compressors and distortion pedals, Ibanez Tubescreamers and a variety of delay pedals – possibly the biggest part of his signature sound. The result is a big, sweeping sound that, together with the solid bass, huge keyboards and syncopated drums from messrs Wright, Mason and Waters gives us the amazingness that is Floyd and some of the most tasteful guitar playing you will ever hear.

Squier Affinity Strat Guitar Package - Black Squier Affinity Strat Guitar Package – BlackEverything you need to get started — with great tone! Includes a Squier Affinity Strat Special, Fender Frontman 15G guitar amplifier, and more.






Best Guitar Gadgets – Using An Ebow

 Best Guitar Gadgets – The Ebow

ebow

My friend Elmo has been using an Ebow for many years but it wasn’t something I tried myself until just a couple of years back. I quickly fell in love with what it could do and was pretty soon using it in loads of our songs.

buy ebow online
The Ebow – Get One !!

It’s quite easy to start getting those viola and violin type of sounds with an Ebow after some tinkering around and playing with volume, tone and pickup settings. The Ebow parts in songs like Heroes by David Bowie or She’s a Star by James are probably the first things you work out by doing long slides up the fretboard and just holding the Ebow on the sweet spot of one string.  After that you’ll just let yourself go and experiment.

Experimenting with The Ebow Rocks !

As well as the long note thing you can also do very fast arpeggios across 2 or more strings by sawing the bow across them. You can also do this with whole chords once you’ve practised a little more with the timing and control of the thing.

If you combine these techniques with effects you can make some truly stunning sounds – the Ebow increases the output of the pickups so you can also get some great controlled feedback going with a touch of overdrive or compression. Try also using a slide and/or a wah wah pedal for some real class !

Guys like Peter Buck form REM have used the Ebow to great effect too in simple but cool sounding ways – listen to “Ebow the letter” from the underated New Adventures in Hi-Fi album.

Best Guitar Settings For Ebowing

As I mentioned, you’ll find that you need to driop the volume and tone quite a bit on your guitar with an Ebow otherwise you’ll find things getting out of control – and not in a good way. I find with my Les Paul that the bridge pickup works best with the volume and tone down quite a lot: Start low and wind them up till you get things sounding sweet basically.

It’s a case of experimenting with this gadget. You can move it along or across the strings, bend the strings and just play with that infinite sustain – swell it, choke it – any way you want to LOL ! Mine came with a little demo mini disc featuring some very fancy tricks you can learn but the joy of the Ebow is that there are no rules – just do what you feel – see what you can find.

Most of all it’s always cool to discover new ways of pulling new sounds out of your trusty axe  and working them into songs or jams – using an ebow does just that – pure inspiration in the form of a funky magnet thang ! Love it.