Sunday, September 4, 2016

Customize Your Electric Guitar With A Built In Tuner

Six string or bass electric guitars can be customized.
If you have humbucker style pick ups on your electric guitar (i.e. Fender, Gibson) and are tired of carrying along a separate tuner, An N-Tune On Board Chromatic Bass & Guitar Tuner could be for you. Here's the original article, Fender Strat Gets N-Tune.  I had one of these on board tuners installed beneath the Volume Pot on my Fender Stratocaster a few years ago and never looked back. Why? Well because before that, I had to bring along a dedicated pedal tuner and add it to my effects chain. 

Before, I used a dedicated pedal tuner in my effects chain.
Now some musicians swear that pedal tuners diminish the guitar volume or effect the tone in some way. I can't say that I've noticed any real difference between before and after the N-Tune but just having one less pedal to pack in my flight case is a big deal.

Fender Strat with N-Tune installed.

The N-Tune Onboard Guitar Tuner fits behind the white pick plate on most Fender electric, humbucker pick up style guitars. These on board tuners come in different colors to match the following guitars: 
  • Includes Black,White,Fender(TM) -Cream,Gibson(TM) -Cream and Parchment colored tuning rings

Monday, August 22, 2016

How It's Made: Martin Guitar Museum and Factory Tours

Martin Guitar Factory - Museum & Visitor's Center

Martin Guitar Factory - 510 Sycamore St. Nazareth, PA 18064
One of my favorite tours of all time are my visits to the Martin Guitar Factory, Museum and Visitor's Center in Nazareth, PA. In fact, I've taken many friends and family along as it is such a fascinating place to see how these uniquely American guitars are handcrafted into the iconic instruments they are. 

D-28 Marquis. Martin Guitar Museum & Visitor's Center

One of the most fun things to see is how select pieces of precious wood become guitars. There are a lot of steps and the guitar is passed along to a succession of crafts people along the way. What I noticed is that each technician exhibited a great deal of pride in their contribution to the creation of each instrument.  Did you know that there are over 300 steps involved in the making of ONE guitar?

Thursday, October 8, 2015

New LP Release: Thomas Starks Burn the Attic

Vocalist, Guitarist, Thomas Starks latest LP release, Burn the Attic.

My friend, Thomas Starks of Seattle Washington, has just dropped his latest LP, Burn the Attic. Rooted in the music industry as a song writer and performer, he is a serious force to be reckoned with. Check out Thomas' music via his music sites listed below.

Monday, July 20, 2015

New R & B Sampling - Myke The Artist

Meeting Myke the Artist in NYC
NYC,NY During my last trip to NYC, I had the opportunity to meet and sample some tracks from city native, Myke The Artist. This soulful R & B artist has a new album available called "Chasing Paradise (Before I Found You)" which is available via iTunes, Google Play and Spotify.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Holiday Gifts: Audio Technica's ATH-M50xBL LIMITED EDITION Professional Monitor Headphones


LIMITED EDITION Professional Monitor Headphones

It's that time of year again! We find ourselves scrambling for just the right gift for the musicians and music lovers on our list. This year Audio Technica has come out with a Limited Edition version  of the ATH-M50xBL Professional Monitor Headphones. These are studio quality cans for use by DJ's, recording artists, musicians and people who enjoy the muff-style headphones for general listening. Here's what they are saying at the Audio Technica website:

Thursday, February 13, 2014

D'Addario's NEW Planet Waves NS Artist Guitar Capo

In the Studio: D'Addario, Planet Waves NEW NS Artist Capo, another guitarist's dream tool.
Farmingdale, NY I'm sure you can imagine how important an artist's tools are to his craft, you can begin to understand how this also transfers to musicians. As artists of sound, we quickly hone in on accessories that work in a number of settings, such as in the studio or performing live. The point is that they have to be reliable and work every time.

NS Artist Capo
So that's why I was pretty excited when Planet Waves sent me their NEW NS (stands for Ned Steinberger designed) Artist Capo to review. Their sturdy capos are all that I use right now but I was curious to see how they could possibly improve on an already good thing.

NS Artist Capo in packaging

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Artisan StudioWorks Stone Guitar Pick Jewelry

Beautiful Brazilian Agate natural polished stone from Artisan Studio Works, Santa Ana, CA
Guitarists can also be classified as artists.  I guess that's why Greg Atkin of Strum in Comfort, (the original SharkTooth Pick) introduced me to his Artisan StudioWorks lovely natural stone pendants. These are beautifully polished and the lead photo is a translucent Brazilian Agate wrapped with sterling silver wire and a delicate rose design at the top. The necklace is made of black leather with a lobster claw clasp and built in extender. I know what I'm wearing for New Year's Eve. Fabulous!

Interchangeable semi-open sterling silver wired pendant.
I still have one of the first stone pick pendants which I love because I can change the look by adding a different polished stone heart to the holder. These new sterling silver wired necklaces are even more dramatic and elegant. The above stone pick holder has a stylized G-Clef and can be changed to match your outfit or mood by switching out the stone of your choice. Stop by Artisan to see more designs and products from artist, Greg M. Atkin.

Artisan StudioWorks
Artisan StudioWorks now has a secure & convenient Etsy site where you can purchase one of a kind guitar accessories and stone guitar pick jewelry designed by artist Greg M Atkin. In addition, several other artisans have helped develop hand tooled and painted leather wrist cuffs, ornate guitar pins and a banjo clip.

I'd like to thank my friend, artist Greg M. Atkin for sending me this collection and have added them to my Lucky Gift Guide as well as my Guitar & Vocal Gear.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

D'Addario Planet Waves NS Micro Tuner

You know what they say, "Small things come in good packages!" D' Addario Planet waves NS Micro Tuner for guitar, bass, mandolin, uke and banjo.
D'Addario & Co. Farmingdale, NY Just when you thought it couldn't be done, Planet Waves takes center stage with the world's smallest guitar tuner. I have their NS Mini Headstock Tuner which is also very tiny in fact that I simply leave it on the guitar's headstock when placing it in the case! I reviewed it here along with other Planet Waves Guitar Tuners.

Small But Mighty
I really liked the Mini Headstock Tuner when it first was released. First of all, you couldn't beat it for portability but even more than that, it is extremely accurate. I used to use my Tru-Strobe Pedal Tuner before each studio session but now I just tune up with the Headstock Tuners.
PW's NS Mini Headstock Tuner is the forerunner to the new micro version.
Like Having a Built in Tuner
I had my Fender Stratocaster modified with a built in tuner that went under my volume knob. The thing is GREAT but when I have to change the 9v battery, I'll have to take the guitar apart. It wasn't easy installing it either. I took it to a professional music shop and had it done as I did not want to blow up my guitar . Why go through all of that when these tuners are small enough to be left of the headstock during transport?

Performing with the Micro Tuner
Another thing that you'll like is that unlike some other tuners, the audience can't see it on your headstock! I've performed with it and no one could tell it was there. So stealthy. Since it's hanging out there on the headstock for the whole set, you can tune up as much as you like. Amazing.

My Mini Tuner is there. Can you see it?
Mini to Micro Comparison 
So what is the difference between the two tuners, besides size of course? Based on how I've tried it, turning on the Micro Tuner is much easier. It has a dedicated, universal power button unlike the previous model which required repeated pressings to scroll through to the desired options. Same thing for turning it off. One button, one press. Genius.

Micro on the left, Mini on the right!
NS Micro Tuner-The Wrap 
Like the Mini model, (Ned Steinberger design), the Micro has an easy to use ratchet clamps and can be mounted on either the front or back of your headstock. The NS Micro Tuner has the added features of a reversible multi-color display and a visual metronome. The Power Button allows you to press to toggle the tuner off and on but the tuner automatically powers off in 10 minutes to save battery life.

Color Codes: The unit shows the actual note and Red indicates:out of tune, Yellow: almost in tune and Green: in tune.
The cursor buttons: allow you to press either arrow to adjust tuner calibration from 410-480Hz. While in Metronome Mode, press wither arrow to adjust tempo setting from 20 to 270bpm. Most tuners can't do that!
Flip Button: Press to change screen orientation. This is really helpful for tricky headstocks that make placement of the tuner hard to see. Orient the screen they way you want for easy viewing.

You get TWO tuners in a pack so you'll have twice the tuning fun for multiple instruments. A great value all the way around and definitely something to consider for the Guitarist on your gift list this year.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Joe Satriani's 2013 Europe Tour & Artist Designs

Guitarists, Joe "Satch" Satriani of the US and David Middleton of London, England on the 2013 European Tour. (Walthamstow, UK)
LONDON, ENGLAND: Perhaps one of the most talented guitarists on the planet, Joe Satriani continues his 2013 European Tour with a stop over in London, England. My friend and fellow musician David Middleton, (lead guitarist for Chaysa), caught up with him backstage after his seriously riveting performance. All UK shows have guest Matt Schofield opening for Satch.  Here is a highlight clip from Joe's London England concert:


Joe is considered a guitar prodigy by most accounts and his virtuosity is near legendary. I so enjoy the way he uses guitar effects to the full but his skills continue to shine through. That is what sets him apart.  Artistry like this doesn't rely on weird effects and gimmicks. One of the things I learned in guitar class was to get the basics first and then any effects you want to add would layer over good technique instead of replacing it.

Joe Satriani's artistry isn't just limited to music. A few years ago Joe designed a series of signature guitar Straps for Planet Waves. These are all his own, original designs reproduced for guitarists like me to enjoy. I have his Skull N Bones Design Planet Lock Strap which is on my Aria Pro II Fullerton model below:

Joe Satriani designed Guitar Strap by Planet Waves & signed VIP pass from my friend David Middleton

These designs are first drawn free hand by Joe and make up a complete series of artist-generated locking guitar straps with matching picks available at Planet Waves.

Details on my Skull and Bones strap designed by Joe Satriani for Planet Waves
Below, Joe demonstrates and discusses his artistic method and creations for Planet Waves.

So if you can't make Joe's European Tour this year, pick up one of his artistic guitar straps. Here's Joe's 2013 Europe Tour Dates.

Joe Satriani's signature on the back of my VIP Pass from David Middleton!

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Irish Eyes Are Still Smiling

St. Patrick's Day Jam Materials
With Saint Patrick's Day coming up you might want to add a few Irish songs to your gig or jam.  In fact, Bluegrass music is a direct descendant of Celtic music.  Many songs we like to do in Bluegrass are simply adaptations of old Irish Fiddle Tunes.  A few examples of Bluegrass tunes taken from Irish Seisuns are Old Joe Clark, Cripple Creek, The Girl I Left Behind, Soldiers Joy and Shady Grove. Other fiddle tunes like Leather Britches and Pretty Polly actually have Scottish roots.
Hal Leonard's Big Book of 75 Irish Songs!

If you listen to and play a few of these, you'll appreciate the Celtic heritage that is at the core. In fact, there are about 120 fiddle tunes that make up the average Irish Session repertoire whereas you can get away with about 50 for Bluegrass. Another difference is like Jazz, Bluegrass allows for each jam participant to "take the lead" in what's known as a breakdown.  Each player has the opportunity to embellish on the melody and add some fast licks and improvisation on the spot.

Musicians such as Merle Travis raised the breakdown to a highly sophisticated art form so much so that while traditional Celtic music does not allow for this, Bluegrass has flourished on its account.  There's something about having poetic license to create on the moment that appeals to the soul of most musicians.  There's something incredible about taking that break and doing something amazing with it!

Musicians Who Have Defined the Genre
When you think of Bluegrass, you have to list Bill Monroe, Earl Scruggs and Merle Travis among the first generation of artists who shaped the sound. Many Bluegrass artists hail from Appalachia among the Blue Ridge mountains where our Scottish, Irish and English ancestors first landed when coming to America.  The backbone of the music was Celtic but the flesh was shaped by a fusion of African (banjo) and uniquely American influences
Thom Bresh, son of  Bluegrass pioneer, Merle Travis
Today, punk rock fusion bands like Dropkick Murphys
have aggressive elements of traditional Celtic music blended in.  Ever checked out an Electric Autoharp? Have you ever heard a rock-bagpipe?  It's being done and it's fresh and exciting to hear what newer artists are coming up with.  They are pushing the limits of what we would recognize as core Irish & Scottish music. However, the challenge is to be true to who you are without simply regurgitating the same songs from the past.  Check out NewGrass too.

I think once you become familiar with the origins of a particular musical genre, there is no stopping what innovations you will come up with.  This St. Patrick's Day, take the time to play a few Irish tunes and see where they take you!

Playing our guitar and Autoharp at the Belmar, NJ St. Patrick's Day Parade