Archive for Guitars

You’d prefer a DJ

Posted in Guitar riffs with tags , , , , on December 7, 2009 by stevenreedkelly

 

"Loretta" (one of my American Standards) got some shiny new strings and a healthy dose of recording.

Last year over the holiday break, my friends Ryan and Blake helped me record a song (Ryan is a killer pianist.  Blake is one of the few drummers I prefer to jam with).  Our goal was to write this 5+ minute epic track.  We had this great idea for a bridge and it turned out that a song I was working on over the summer was in the same key.  We combined them and I think it really turned out great.  When I returned from break and asked Ryan to send me the track, it seemed that we actually lost all the drums.  That was deflating – and the song never really sounded complete.

Yesterday, I just sorta got an itch to re-record the song and use some sample drums to fill the voids.  I changed a few parts around and eliminated all acoustic guitars from the song as well.  I hoisted Ryan’s original piano line from the bridge from the old recording and added it to this newer version.  I also changed Loretta’s strings yesterday, so it was a productive day all around!  

My friend Justin (Ryan’s brother and the singer in my old band) was working on vocals to this song for a while – maybe that’s something we’ll work on over this holiday break!  

Here’s the latest re-recording of a song I call “You’d Prefer a DJ”.  Excuse the disjointed drums.  Let me know what you think! 

Mustang surf rock

Posted in Gear, Guitar riffs with tags , , , on November 19, 2009 by stevenreedkelly

It’s a little late in the year for summer jams, but I just felt like posting this track.

In 2007, I bought a Fender ’65 Reissue Mustang.  I always liked Fender’s non-traditional models like Jaguars, Jazzmasters and Mustangs.  What I’d really like to add to the collection someday is an old Duosonic II (Basically a Mustang with a hardtail bridge), but I bought this thing instead.

At first, I didn’t love the Mustang like I thought I would.  It’s a thin guitar that doesn’t have much sustain.  It’s much better for chording than soloing, and the pickups don’t pack much of a punch.  For an aspiring blues player, this was a mismatch.  The Mustang and I parted ways in summer of 2008 when I traded it in for my second American Standard Telecaster (my stepmom always said – if you find something you like, get it in several colors… but I think she was talking about clothes).

In retrospect, I really miss the Mustang.  I did a lot of recording with it and I used it on a lot of my favorite jams.  It had a really great, although thin, tone and I’ll definitely look into getting another one of these for cheap someday.

Anyways, during the Mustang’s tenure in my rig, I decided that I needed to record something reminiscent of the old surf bands of the 60s.  I never really finished this song, but I’m happy with the way it turned out so far…

Latest gear I’m obsessed with…

Posted in Gear with tags , , , , , , , , , on November 15, 2009 by stevenreedkelly

 

fenderheadandcabnew02

A Fender Bandmaster Reverb - Similar to the one I got to jam on.

I have serious gear envy sometimes.  Here are a few amplifiers I’ve been crushing on lately…

Last week I went to practice with a new band.  The guitar player and drummer have a practice space out in Long Island, which is great because it’s not one of those pay-per-hour places that plague the boroughs surrounding New York (which are always booked when I try to reserve some time).  I had the pleasure of using an old Fender Bandmaster Reverb from the 70s – from the “silverface” era.  These amps are generally dismissed by guitar players because they were made during the time when Fender was bought by CBS and their products’ quality suffered.  CBS opted for different circuits and solid state rectifiers instead of tube rectifiers (although the amps were still tube-driven), which make the amps sound much different than the vaunted “blackface” era amplifiers Fender had previously been producing.

 

I gotta say, contrary to popular opinion, I thought the Bandmaster sounded amazing.  All I really need though is a good clean channel with some reverb – something most Fender amps do reasonably well, no matter the era.  It’s also been a while since I’ve been able to crank an amp up – and at only 40 watts, this one started breaking up nicely at high volumes (which meshed really well with the Tube Screamer I had running into it).  I don’t have a lot of experience with a lot of the different “blackface” Fenders, but I think the Fender Bandmaster Reverb is a super under-rated amplifier.  The good news about that is that you can still get a head for relatively cheap on ebay or at used gear stores.  I don’t know that I’ll ever need an amp this big in my life (at this point) but that’s something I’d seriously consider. 

markvcomboMy friend Jaydee and I went to Rudy’s Music after work on Friday to see a Mesa Boogie workshop (we heard they’d be raffling off an amplifier – a rumor that turned out to be false).  I was excited about the workshop because I own a Mesa Lone Star, which has been an incredible amplifier.  I couldn’t wait to tell someone from the company how much I treasured something that they made.  We got to Rudy’s a little late, but still caught about an hour of the Mesa sales rep’s presentation.  He went over a couple of their newer models, primarily the Mark V and the Electrodyne.  The Electrodyne model doesn’t do much to excite me, but the Mark V is like a guitar workstation more than a simple amplifier – I love this amplifier.  There are 23 knobs on the front of this amplifier (plus a 5 band EQ and over 10 switches).  To put that in perspective, a standard amp has between 6 – 10 knobs.  Each of the three channels has its own treble, bass and mid control.  You can tweak the amps power between 10, 45 and 90 watts.  Everything on this amplifier seems fully customizable.  At $2100, it’s a steal since you pay way more for a boutique amplifier with less features.  The best thing about the amp is that it doesn’t sound like a Mesa Triple Rectifier.  You really can get any sound you want out of it.  I like that Mesa is playing less to the nu-metal audience lately, their products are becoming so much more versatile.  Kudos to Mesa Boogie.  We also got some sweet free t-shirts from the workshop.

 

blankenship_amp

Blankenship Fatboy amplifier - horrible name, beautiful amp.

One more amplifier that I had the opportunity to see, but not play at Rudy’s.  This is the Blankenship Fatboy.  I’ll probably go back to the store to mess with it this week, as this one really looks like something I see myself needing in my lifetime.  See, I have this fantasy that someday I’ll have a room in my house where I can display my gear.  It’ll have dark cherry cabinets for the guitars, club green carpeting, a leather chair and a beautiful tweed amplifier.  In this fantasy, I’m also much better at playing guitar.  And I’m 60+ years old.

A guy can dream, can’t he? 

 

I can’t believe this man still tours

Posted in Guitar riffs with tags , , , on November 13, 2009 by stevenreedkelly

keith_richards

Last Christmas, my dad and I spent a couple hours watching Shine A Light, the Martin Scorsese documentary on the Rolling Stones.  The first thing I noticed was that Mick Jagger still moves like a teenager.  I have no idea how this is possible.  The man is in great shape (He must be like 70 years old by now).  Scorsese also talks at length about the essence of the legendary Keith Richards – the infamous lead guitarist who looks like he should have died in a gutter 40 years ago.  I thought about that today while I was listening to Forty Licks at work.  I’ve always wanted to play guitar like Keith Richards.  He has this Suessical way about him, although it usually looks like he has no idea what the hell he’s doing.  His licks are brilliant, but sometimes I wonder if Keith actually remembers the parts to his songs – or if it’s all improv.  Thank god Ron Wood seems lucid enough to hold a song together.

In the spirit of Keith Richards, I spent some time tonight trying to play some loose riffs over a chord progression.  It’s just a couple measures…

It’s a guitar I’ll have to grow into

Posted in Guitar riffs with tags , , on November 12, 2009 by stevenreedkelly

Ladies and Gentlemen, meet Rachel.

Rachel

Affectionately named after my first crush from day-care, "Rachel" is the latest addition to my telecaster collection.

I had been searching for an American Deluxe Telecaster for a while when I stumbled across this guitar on the Pianos N’ Stuff used gear website in July.  The price was right and I admittedly have a problem with impulse purchasing.

So here I am with my third telecaster.  To be fair, this one has a little switch that puts the two pickups in parallel and that makes it sound slightly different…

And the other two are exactly the same aside from the color.

So why do I like telecasters so much?  I don’t know that I have a great answer.  I certainly don’t play country music.  It’s not like I have an assortment of other types of guitars to compare, so I can’t tell you that I wouldn’t prefer a Les Paul or a Gretsch.  The bottom line is that I always just thought they were cool looking guitars for punk rock.

As I get older, I find myself trying to get more out of my guitar than just wailing on some power chords… but I’m not remotely talented enough to crack off a soaring, face-melting solo.  That’s why I get along with telecasters.  I don’t even think you CAN solo on a tele.  My newest guitar clip is just an example of how my playing is starting to mold to the guitar…