Archive and Resources for GuitaroJam Members

Newsletter Home:  2006 | 2005
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14th January, 2006

CONTENTS:

  • Free Stuff:  Download Free Metronome!
  • Health:  Guitar Changes In Response to Tendonitis
  • Artist:  Defining the True Artist - Do You Have What it Takes?
  • Learning:  Building a Relationship With Your Guitar
  • Lesson:  How To Play Slide Guitar
  • Gigging:  The Truth Behind Press Kits, Bios, and Controlling Your Image
  • Gear:  The Origins and Magic of Slide Guitar
  • Recording:  How Does A Compressor Make An Audio Track Louder?
  • Recommendation: Play What You Hear
  •  

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    Download Free Metronome!

    Play and learn with a full-featured metronome from d'Accord Music Software - it's completely FREE!  We've recently downloaded the metronome ourselves and can recommend it as a good tool for students and guitarists learning to play.

    The d'Accord Metronome for Windows (98,ME,2000,XP) is easy-to-use software with several features to help you play and learn:

  • Plays Metronome sound, shows the metronome viewer

  • Enables you to set the tempo in beats per minute

  • TAP feature to detect the tempo while you click on tap button

  • You can also select the measure (2/4, 3/4, 4/4 ...)

    This software is free.  You simply download to use directly from your computer desktop or share with friends! 

  • If you'd like to download now, click here to display the d'Accord Personal Guitarist software page.  Select the "Products" tab, then click "Metronome" where you will see the Download button.

    As this particular metronome is for Windows users only, we are keeping an eye out for a Mac version, and will keep you posted.  If anyone has a good recommendation for a Mac metronome, we'd love to hear from you!

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    Guitar Changes In Response To Tendonitis


    Copyright 1998 Paul Marxhausen

    When I developed deep pains in my forearms in March of 1994
    following three intense weeks of unaccustomed 8-hour days at the
    computer, I knew it was serious trouble. I even knew it was called
    Repetitive Strain Injury. But I was pretty sure some good ergonomic
    computing equipment would fix it, that and the splints and ibuprofen
    my physician's assistant prescribed for me.

    What I didn't know yet was that my approach to playing guitar and
    other instruments may have been a significant contributing cause of
    my bilateral flexor tendinitis.

    Despite splints, drugs and ergonomic computer equipment , real
    recovery was elusive, not the least because I hardly slowed down my
    frenetic pace on computer OR on my instruments. But after I
    rehearsed and performed a Christmas oratorio on violin, I found
    myself in frightening pain and having increasing trouble with
    dexterity. I asked for and got a referral to a physical therapist, who
    after a time of evaluation laid it out for me: I was in for a long,
    difficult recovery, and I needed to reduce or modify all activities
    that aggravated my tendinitis.
     

     


    No phrase is more common to musicians experiencing physical
    problems than "I can't stop practicing . . . " because we have a
    recital, or we need to keep a paying gig, or "our music is in our
    blood" and we can't bear to leave it be. But reality is reality: my
    guitar and violin went in their cases and stayed there untouched for
    months while the damage slowly repaired.

    There were a great many things that contributed to the return to
    functionality and relative freedom from pain I enjoy today: physical
    reeducation for my body, ice water baths for my arms, gentle
    stretching, microcurrent therapy, meditation to reduce stress, and
    more. But I'd like to address some specific points about the steel
    string acoustic guitar, which is my main instrument and which I
    believe caused me the most trouble.

    Maybe one of the most important things to learn is you don't have to
    fret so darn hard. Some instructors suggest fretting notes with
    ever-decreasing pressure, until finally the string actually buzzes
    because it's not fretted enough. Just a little bit more than that is
    all it takes to play cleanly, even during vigorous pieces. "Digging
    in" may feel like you are wrenching more tone from the string, but it
    just ain't so. (When you strike the strings harder you may have to
    increase your fretting pressure a bit.) The same rationale applies to
    the picking hand as well: excess tension in finger- or flat-picking
    does not add to your tone, and besides causing injurious strain it
    impedes your speed and dexterity. If you are fond of using a flat
    pick, you may find using a thumb pick may reduce the amount of
    force needed to hold the pick. Using more of your whole arm to pick
    instead of doing it all with your wrist is frequently recommended as
    well.

    And the moment pressure or movement is no longer required from
    any finger, relax it. Give those muscles and tendons a momentary
    chance to recharge and flush waste products away.

    Electric guitarists are notorious for preferring postures and
    positions that look cool over those which are least stressful and
    most musically effective, but even a classic guitarist sitting in the
    refined one-foot-elevated position may be creating physical
    problems through hunched shoulders, cocked wrists, and the tilted
    hips that come with the use of the footstool. I can't begin to
    address all the aspects of correct posture, but I will pass along
    Aaron Shearer's1 sound advice that to the greatest extent possible,
    all joints - shoulders, elbows, knuckles, fingers, wrists - should
    operate in the middle of their range of movement. Shearer explains
    correct positioning in depth in his excellent book LEARNING THE
    CLASSIC GUITAR, Part I which while intended for the classic
    guitarist provides principals that can be applied to steel string and
    solid-body guitars. My own practice has changed in that I try to play
    standing up with a strap whenever possible, which permits me to
    move and avoid any fixed, tense position. Instead of the neck
    extending out parallel to the floor, I minimize my left-hand
    contortions by angling the neck up at about 45 degrees from the
    horizontal. One injurious habit I'm finding hard to break is holding
    my left shoulder up when I play. Shoulders should be allowed to
    drop, and raising the arm done through the rotation of the shoulder
    joint, without any "help" from a raised shoulder.

    A controversial point of positioning is placing the left-hand thumb
    behind the neck to optimize reach and fretting strength: this is
    generally accepted as "correct" classic technique. But it can be
    very hard on the thumb, and letting the neck fall into the web
    between the thumb and fingers instead should at least be considered
    as an optional change of pace to rest the thumb. Too, overuse of full
    barre chords maximizes the amount of left hand strain; my playing
    and writing style has changed to emphasize partial chords and
    alternatives to full 6-string barres.

    Changes to the instrument may help avoid injury. Lighter strings are
    an obvious method to reduce strain on the hands. This will likely
    alter your tone and may require a change in your playing style or an
    adjustment in your instrument setup. Along the same lines, tuning
    down a half or whole step not only reduces string tension further but
    opens up new tonal possibilities.

    Using a capo restores the concert pitch of a guitar detuned in this
    way, but in addition it shortens the effective scale of the guitar to
    minimize left hand stretches. My "standard" setup has my guitar
    detuned one whole step and then capoed two frets up.

    One option to ease playing problems is to get an instrument that is
    shorter, narrower, and/or shallower than the popular dreadnaught-
    style acoustics. Options include small bodied "parlor" guitars, very
    shallow-bodied acoustics/electrics, the round-backed Ovations, and
    at least one "ergonomic" acoustic model where the body is
    shallower on one side than the other, so the right arm and hand do
    not have to reach around so much body. Though it may sound
    unthinkable to the acoustic purist, solid-body electric guitars offer
    advantages in shape and easy playing action, and with sophisticated
    electronic processing can provide usable RacousticS tone. Chet
    Atkins and Joni Mitchell are two acoustic guitar masters who are
    using solid-body guitars in concert venues.

    While these and other changes, and the healing of time, have given
    me back the ability to practice guitar and write new material,
    endurance remains a problem for me. After a half-hour trying out
    guitars in a music store recently, I found my fingers slipping,
    missing notes, and simply refusing to obey the commands of my
    brain. I'm hoping that gentle exercise over the coming months
    rebuilds endurance.

    More resources on this subject can be found on-line on my Web site
    "Musicians & Injuries" , http://www.engr.unl.edu/eeshop/music.html

    References:

    LEARNING THE CLASSIC GUITAR, Part I Aaron Shearer Mel Bay
    Publications, Inc. #4 Industrial Drive, Pacific, MO 63069-0066 Toll
    Free 1-800-325-9518 FAX (314)257-5062



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    Defining the True Artist - Do You Have What it Takes?
    By Chris Standring

    "The real communicating artists seek unique expression. They are not interested anymore in sounding like their heroes, they are searching constantly, developing and refining their own unique voice."

    There are musicians who are more than comfortable remaining anonymous. You know, happy to hide behind their guitars or keyboards and be sidemen to the stars of today or tomorrow. Then there are those that have grandiose aspirations of stardom, adoration and limelight. And then there are those who have a driving desire and need to say something original artistically, to express themselves and to communicate that expression to an audience, be it a small niche market or wider demographic.

    Those falling into the first category can make a living, albeit fairly modest as a general rule. Those falling into the second category often live in a little bit of a dream world and, depending on their tenacity and 'smart' skills, usually end up disappointed because the focus is set on the destination rather than the journey. The third category usually reap the rewards of the second category gaining all the success and limelight, but as a result of focusing on their art rather than the shallow and flighty end of the musician's world. These are usually the most fascinating people too, because they generally have a little mystery about them and because they actually possess what most entertainers really want; sincere and dedicated talent!

    But there are also those that are in the early stages of artistic development who are still learning their craft, and open to influences. Possibly they will become great artists in the future, possibly not. It will be a question of choices and consequences, and doors opened and opportunities taken advantage of - or not. Life certainly will take you places.



    But for those that do have aspirations of artistry and expression, then I firmly believe you must have qualities that others do not have. As an artist I believe one must stand out from the heard in order to be heard. It is so easy to make a record these days. One no longer needs to have the luxury of a recording contract in order to stand on a pedestal and say "I am an artist - buy my record!" With home studios costing one 16th of the price they did ten years ago and with software programs that do it all, you can churn out albums by the dozen if you put your mind to it. And many do.

    However, just because you can, why would you? - is my question. Just for fun? OK, valid I suppose. But Isn't it better to spend that time and energy searching relentlessly for something unique and different? God knows record companies are releasing enough crap by the hour, even signed artists are now under the impression they have got something to offer. Maybe they have, but for the most part I don't think so (as public reaction and their soundscans will attest!)

    Perhaps I am being extremely unfair, but I think too many artists do not realize that they have a responsibility to say something profoundly unique, certainly if they expect any kind of career longevity. We live in a world where musicians spend their lives emulating their heroes; singers spend their lives emulating Aretha Franklin, Janis Joplin, Stevie Wonder, Frank Sinatra and so on. Rock guitarists spend their lives emulating Jimi Hendrix, Jimmy Page, Jeff Beck and Eddie Van Halen. Jazz guitarists are proud emulators of Pat Metheny, John Scofield and Wes Montgomery. Saxophone players worship Charlie Parker, John Coltrane and Michael Brecker. And so on...

    Before I go on I have to say that emulating heroes is absolutely imperative in your formative years as musicians. You simply MUST listen to the greats, past and present. One has to have a strong grounding and musical knowledge and one simply cannot get there without listening. However, way too many 'artists' cannot get passed this stage. They need to have peer approval, have to know that other respected musicians around them recognize them and applaud their abilities. Often all this takes place subconsciously.

    This 'peer approval' is a stage of development that is also important. Every musician goes through it at some point. It is absolutely natural, but I firmly believe that to become a great artist, you have to move beyond that stage and look inward. I always liken it those wedding band singers, who despite having an honorable and justifiable (and in some cases envious) career, they are all too often the 'performing monkeys'. They are often fine vocalists but at the end of the day they are seeking approval and applause and not communicating or expressing anything artistic. They certainly know how to entertain but do they know how to intrigue? It's a huge gap. Nothing remotely subtle about it as far as I am concerned.

    The real communicating artists seek unique expression. They are not interested anymore in sounding like their heroes. They have moved past that, now searching constantly, developing and refining their own unique voice. Look at any of the true giants of yesterday and today. Yes you can hear their references, but they also have their own strong identity. At some point during their development something bigger than them took over. The chances are they knew it at the time and took advantage of it and made an extra effort to really hone that uniqueness.

    Finding that unique inner voice might not be as easy for some. I think it starts by recognizing your technical weaknesses. It is often those weaknesses that ultimately end up becoming your artistic strengths. Let's face it, if you were able to play the guitar technically perfect, at all speeds, meticulously so every note that came out was totally clean and audible, would this be ultimately interesting to an audience? Yes it might be very clever and impressive, but for how long could you listen to an album where every phrase felt like you were having your teeth drilled!!?

    Wes Montgomery played with his thumb (after his family complained he played too loud late at night), ultimately enabling him to become the greatest and most influential jazz guitarist of all time. BB King has about three licks in his entire blues repertoire. Does anyone NOT know BB King when they hear him? Thelonius Monk refused to conform to traditional piano techniques and musical ideas. He simply HAD to play music the way he heard it in his head. He made such a bold musical statement during his time that he is emulated the world over and revered by the greatest musicians living today.

    Technical shortcomings can be the very essence of your unique artistry. Now, should those shortcomings get in the way of what you need to say musically then those weaknesses might need to be turned around so they don't restrict what you hear in your head.

    Remember, the true artist simply communicates from within. All other extraneous thoughts, influences and distractions need to fall by the wayside. The minute a lick or a phrase that your hero played or sung (and made famous) ends up on your record - watch out! You might be in trouble. Absolutely steal from your heroes, but just remember that real artistry is about what YOU have to say, not what your heroes have already said before, and have possibly said better.

    Push yourself to the max and search for that truly unique quality within. After all, that next great talent we are all so desperately waiting for might just be you!
     

     

     
    Chris Standring is a jazz recording artist and educator. For more information about his highly acclaimed home study guitar courses please visit www.playjazzguitar.com and www.GuitarMadeSimple.com

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    Building a Relationship With Your Guitar

    by Chris Standring

    "With a wonderful command of the guitar you can say a great deal with just a little, because it means that two or three notes sound amazing when they are stated with passion and conviction. This is truly great playing."

    I am convinced one can become a great player with a limited knowledge of harmony, theory and technique. Now, before you jump down my throat and say "Why on earth would you recommend that?!" Well - I'm not recommending that you stop learning these invaluable aspects of music. I am saying that there is a great deal one can do with just a little. Of course, the more you know about music theory, the easier it will be to continue to learn and absorb information. The more you know about harmony, the easier it will be to understand new music and give you access to harmonic reinvention. The more you know about technique, the easier it will be to execute things you hear in your head. There is never a reason to stop learning these things. But there is so much that can be said with just a little. I will try to explain...

    Once you have a basic knowledge of guitar playing it is important to live with your guitar, you know, develop a relationship with it. What I mean by this is that all the things you practice have a need to be absorbed into your playing. You need to have patience and know that things aren't necessarily going to happen overnight. Some things kick in after a while and when you least expect them to.

    I can remember a time at my classical music college in London. I was studying solo classical guitar and in my own spare time having a fascination with jazz. But I had some problems with right hand technique, and frankly I had a ton of jazz vocabulary to learn, not to mention sight-reading and everything else that was on my musical plate at the time. So I studied and studied and my friends at college rarely saw me as I stayed at home all week shedding. I was pretty obsessed. Eight hour days of focused practice ensued and I watched the results, which of course fueled me to practice even more.

    But then I left music college and I was presented with the daunting task of making a living in my chosen profession, and so my practice hours gradually lessened. I even remember stopping scheduled practice completely for several months and I just played. And you know what?... this is when things really kicked in. My playing took on a huge leap. Why? because I stopped forcing things and let things naturally absorb.....or not. Some things didn't get into my playing that I practiced (Some quite difficult Wynton Kelly licks I seem to remember!) but a great deal of what I practiced did get absorbed. The point is I let things breathe a while and things took on a natural course of their own. It was an incredible epiphany for me. That whole process of practicing and then just living. It seemed right.

    And then I realized something equally interesting, to me at least. That whatever I played on the guitar had to really come from my fingers and not the guitar. Every note on the guitar, across the entire fretboard, had a completely different feel, sound and requirement. Not only did I have to learn how to play a musical piece but I had to learn that each individual note had its own set of technical and musical problems.

    Let me try to explain this a little simpler. Play the note F on the top E string, first fret, and just sit on it and wait for the note to die away. Now play an F on the 2nd string at the 6th fret. Listen again for the note to die away. Do the same thing on the G string, then the D string and finally the A string, probably about as high as you can go. You will find that the top string F note sustains less than the B string and maybe more or less than the G string but probably more than the D string and for sure more than the A string. Now, take in to account that every guitar feels and sounds different and the results may be slightly different again.

    Now, each note also requires that we sustain it for as long as our musical piece requires us to, or for as long as our ear tells us we want to at that split second, if we are improvising. Bare in mind that there are other technical issues like the top string and bottom string being close to the edge of the fretboard, each string is a different thickness and we have other things to accommodate.

    And with all these things, what results is that every single note on the fretboard is unique and we need to build a subconscious relationship with every note over time. I say 'subconsciously' because it is not practical to theorize or be vocally academic while we are playing. It has to be inherent. And the only way to do that is to live and build a relationship with your guitar. In other words, get the music inside us.

    Another way to explain this is is to talk about bending notes and position playing. Every player will feel and bend notes on the guitar in their favorite places. Over time we know that a note can be bent upwards on the G string and will sustain differently according to which key we are playing in. Some notes, according to Nigel Tufnell of Spinal Tap, will "ring on forever!" But some notes won't. Other notes you might need to dig in a little harder to say what you need to say, others may respond more easily. But they are all subtly different. Some not so subtly.

    This observation is immediately apparent when you hear a lesser experienced player who is starting to get some vocabulary and beginning to get around the fretboard. But there is something lacking. Usually it is that the player isn't fully aware of each individual's physical note requirements. It's not just a technical thing - it's a "feel" thing.

    And I think this is what people really mean when they talk about having a great "feel". A great player understands their instrument and has a grasp on how each note needs to be treated. And it's all in the fingers. And I fully believe that one important thing you must do to improve this aspect of your playing is to just live with your instrument, get to know it - all the notes - everywhere on the fretboard. Have a relationship with your guitar. Play it. And of course listen to other great players that have already mastered it.

    With a wonderful command of the guitar you can say a great deal with just a little, because it means that two or three notes sound amazing when they are stated with passion and conviction. This is truly great playing.

    Practice and live. Command over your instrument takes time. But it's the one thing I believe separates the good players from the truly great players.

     

     
    Chris Standring is a jazz recording artist and educator. For more information about his highly acclaimed home study guitar courses please visit www.playjazzguitar.com and www.GuitarMadeSimple.com

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    How To Play Slide Guitar

    By Dennis Tryon

    Don’t you just love the distinctive sound of a slide guitar, whether it’s on a country tune or the down and dirty blues? There has been a renewed interest in slide and bottleneck guitar playing in the last few years, and the new country music has adopted the sound big-time.

    I was intimidated when I first put a slide on my little finger, it was awkward, and the sound I made was horrible. I did not have anybody to show me how to dampen the strings, what scales sounded good in standard tuning, and not a clue as to all of the “open-tunings” that are available to both finger style and slide playing.

    Actually playing with a slide can be very easy, and beginners can get some really cool sounds with a bit of practice. I would recommend tuning to an open D or open G at first. The open tuning approach gives nice major chord sounds up and down the neck, and allows for some easy fingering and ability to play songs right away. That’s the reason for playing right? Exercises and scales have their place but most people I know that stared to play guitar, want to learn some songs.

    First start with a slide or “bottle neck” as many refer to when describing the tube that you wear on your finger. The choices are many, the material is endless, and the type of tone they produce is just as varied. You will be the ultimate judge of the tone and sound you create.

     

    The two basic materials are either glass or metal, with ceramic coming in a distant third. Can’t really say I have a favorite type of slide. I have just about one of every kind you can think of, I prefer glass on electric guitar and steel or brass on acoustic guitar.

    One tip that is guaranteed to help give you better TONE is go for very dense material. Get a thick or heavy glass slide, as this will increase sustain and fatten up your sound. My preference is hand blown leaded glass, but very hard to find in the US, as it is illegal to use leaded glass for manufacturing. I got mine from a vendor in the UK.

    The preferred finger is the pinkie on your fretting hand, but lots of players use their ring or even the middle finger. The advantage of using your little finger is that it gives you the most fretting possibilities, but some claim you give up some control. The main thing is just try on a bunch of slides and go for what feels good to you!

    Once you have found a slide just have some fun running it up and down the strings. More than likely you can make some awful noise, the task is how you can quiet down all of that excessive noise and get some soulful sound coming from your guitar.

    Lets start with an open tuning; my preference is open G tuning.

    Drop your fat or lower E string down to a D pitch. You can use the 4th string or D to tune to. Then tune the A string down G and you can use the 3rd or G to tune to as well. The last string you have to detune is the bottom E or 1st string. Tune it to D as well, then when you strum you guitar it plays a G major chord, and sounds really sweet.

    Your guitar sound now be tuned D-G-D-G-B-D as opposed to regular tuning of E-A-D-G-B-E.

    Open G tuning. It's a favorite among slide guitarists, because it gives you a wide open major chord on any fret, and it allows an easy alternating bass because the root (the main note of the chord, G if it's a G chord, for example) is on the fifth string while the fifth (D if it's a G chord, for example) is on the sixth and the fourth. Both slide and non-slide players also appreciate the fact that open G also enables you to play a standard blues line with relative ease!

    One of the most crucial aspects to getting good clean sound is the use of damping behind the slide. Master this technique and you will be amazed how good the sound of you slide on steel strings will be.

    I suggest that you lay your fretting fingers flat on the neck just behind the slide, and use slight pressure on the strings with the slide. Not too heavy, as you do not want to hit the fret but not so light that you get no sound ether. Just experiment a little and you will find the right pressure to use.

    You also want to play just over the fret and not behind as this will give you the best intonation. This also takes some practice but with some careful listening you will know when you are on pitch. Mater this technique and you will be beyond most occasional players.

    I have a website devoted to slide guitar and links to many resource and reviews of video lessons on slide playing. I think the sound of slide guitar is the most human-like of any instrument and allows the guitarist to express an amazing range of emotion and feeling on the guitar.

    Peace

    Denny

    About the Author:  Denny Tryon is an author and guitarist. More information and resources are available at http://www.slideplayer.com.

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    The Truth Behind Press Kits, Bios, and Controlling Your Image

    By Bishop Dolarhyde

    A lot of what you have been told about creating your image is false. This article is meant to be a simple list of things that might surprise you as a musician.

    Some of you have had “managers” misguide you. You know the drill. Your guitar player’s girlfriend has a connection at some local club so now she thinks she is fit to orchestrate your entire career. Maybe you have a know-it-all singer who spent 5 minutes glossing over some music industry website and now he is writing your bio chalk full of transparent lies and over-exaggerated descriptions of your rock fury.

    No matter what the case may be, I can guarantee you that you have at least a few misconceptions about how to properly present your image. This article will briefly outline some of the major issues on writing better bios, press kits, and press releases.

    You have more control than you think

    The most important thing I can tell you is you have more control than you think. If you really get the hang of image presentation and playing this game we call the music biz you can virtually create any image you want of yourself or your band.

    First and foremost I want to talk about the press. Ever surf the net doing some research of some new band your friend told you about? Ever notice how multiple music sites will have the exact same description of the band?

    Of course, you aren’t an idiot, you realize these sites simply rip what the band wrote in their bio on the band homepage. But do you realize the POWER of this? Basically, you have the power to syndicate your image in a way. These websites simply don’t have the time, nor intimate knowledge of your band, to create some pseudo-bio for you. They rely on you, and what you have to say about yourself. This is power. Use it wisely.

    But you already knew that. What I’m about to tell you is something you may not know, but could drastically affect your bands promotional campaign. PRINT MAGAZINES DO THIS TOO. Yep, a lot of those long write-ups you see in your favorite magazines about your favorite band, have content ripped straight from the bands’ bio. The trick is that this only applies to well written bios. If you do in fact have such a bio, this can be the most powerful weapon in your promotional arsenal.

    The secret bio sauce recipe

    Ok. So let’s recap real quickly. You know that your bio can help control your image on the net. And now you know you can even control how the print media presents you. But how do you write such a bio? First, let’s go over what NOT to do.

    Inflate: Do not inflate your image beyond the reality of your band. Don’t be all flash and no smash. In other words, don’t talk about what you can’t back up. This is the most common mistake in bio writing. I call it “inflation”. This is pretty much adjective abuse.

    Avoid phrases like “intense live show” or “super sonic blast from the future”. This is stock. This is not creative. If you aren’t the biggest drawing band in your own market, don’t say “this band is taking the nation by storm”. The press and online community have been reading bios with such inflations since the beginning, they see past this very well.

    Quote fans: If you can’t get someone credible to say something nice about your band DO NOT resort to using a fan comment. Ever…for any reason.

    List song descriptions: If you are already an “inflator” then talking about your own songs will only cause pain and tragedy.

    Spending too much time on previous bands: If your last band didn’t have a record deal or tour, don’t bother. If you have some leverage with your “former member of…” status use it tastefully and only in brief.

    Now that we have got those cardinal sins out of the way you are probably thinking “jeeze, what else is there to write about”. This is where we start digging. Time to put on your thinking cap. You have to think like a reporter looking for a refreshing angle. You have to find the one thing that can create an image that will stick. You have to find THE STORY.

    By this time I have lost some of you. You either don’t know what I mean by “the story” or you have a bio that breaks every rule I just outlined and you can’t admit it. The best bios read like a good music rag write-up. If your bio is written correctly it should make a staff writer’s job easy. It should be easy for him to “rip” or “cop”. It’s no co-incidence that many pro bands use these kinds of writers to pen their own bios!

    Perhaps you have an interesting story about how you came together. Perhaps you have some gimmick, like Siamese twins or 3 bearded lady bassists. But hopefully you have something that connects your band to something going on in the world of music. You need something that will get people’s attention. Maybe your band is the only Death Metal band for 100 miles in the Bible belt. You get the picture.

    I am going to list some things that can make great stories (and double as press releases).

    - Being produced by someone reputable
    - Being managed by someone reputable
    - Breaking some mark in online CD sales or downloads
    - Getting a supporting slot on a festival or tour
    - Having a reputable person as a quoted fan

    A photo speaks 1000 flaws

    I want to get one thing out of the way: I’m not going to tell you how to dress. But I am going to tell you that it may be your biggest problem. I am not a stylist. I can not solve this problem. I can tell you this though: The camera will expose every flaw you have in your style.

    With that said, let’s get on with at least getting a quality photo. I am not a professional photographer. I am not going to tell you how to take a photo of yourself. I am going to tell you where to get one.

    Your best bet is to find a local photographer that you see at local shows. More often than not, they are either legitimate press, legitimate artist, or a legitimate student. Browse their catalog of band photography and if you think it stands up, there ya go.

    This may all seem like common sense, but I want to stress that this is abandoned and somehow your guitar player’s girlfriend is your “photographer” because her mom has a camera. Do not let this happen to you. Find people with pro gear. Get a professional or at least a digital arts student. These are always your best bets.

    If you are going for sheer impact with your 8 x 10, one good tip is to at least look like you are in the same band. I’m not saying get a gimmick or wear make-up. I’m saying that even if you think your personal look is “plain”, your band as a whole can benefit from at least being on the same page.

    Logo

    The miracle of Adobe Photoshop has given birth to some of the most breathtaking digital art we have seen. It has also, to the misfortune of bands mostly, created total rubbish. If your logo sucks it says many things about you.

    - It shows you have high tolerance for bad art.

    - It shows you yourself might be a bad artist and were not smart enough to hire a professional.

    - It shows you have a very distorted view about the genre of your band.

    - It shows some of you are totally unprofessional and don’t care about your image.

    You might be surprised how many ways there are to find good digital artists to create your logo. In my personal opinion, even paying up to $100 is worth it for a good logo. Bottom line, the sites below are the best place to find killer artists.

    DeviantArt.com
    Mylkhead.com
    AngryBlue.com
    PlayWithKnives.com
    EyeSuckInk.com

    Press Kit Secrets

    One very strong tip I can offer is to try to think of your image as “dynamic”. It has to be all things to all people. You might have to add something extra to that envelope before you send it off.

    If you are sending your kit out to an artist rep at a prospective endorsee you ALWAYS want it to contain tour dates. This is the most important thing in your attempt to get gear for cheap and say those lovely words to all your loser musician friends playing crappy guitars… “I got an endorsement deal”.

    A great add-in is a DVD. There are a lot of affordable ways to make a DVD these days. Again, this is one of those things that will expose your flaws. You don’t want to put your life story on there. Live footage is great if its done right. Fake smoke and that cheesy “page turn effect” are not. Don’t make a wedding video. This will be valuable in your arsenal when try to book gigs.

    Ask First. Send. Follow Up. This is your best way to make some impact and get a solid contact in the biz. Your press kit will always have more impact if the person is expecting it (send it promptly).

    Make sure you are to the point when calling someone you’d like to send a press kit to. You are Jon Doe from The Doetones. You are going to be in town around this time. You want to send a press kit for a possible gig. If you are sending an email and have an EPK (Electronic Press Kit) NEVER send the press kit in first. Always try to get a response before sending the press kit. If you are sending to a possible endorsee put your upcoming dates in the initial email.

    Following up is crucial. Many of the people you will be dealing with in this business are either busy or forgetful…mostly both. You must initiate contact. Be tactful and patient. Do not hound people, but make sure you give yourself a chance to make some opportunities and pick up the phone yourself.

    Remember, you are in essence, trying to self yourself to a company or consumer. You have to be a salesman. Try to connect to people and have them want to talk to you. If you can do this they will always want to help you or get you involved in something that will. Or best of all, spend money on you and your product.

    Bruce Prokopets, aka Bishop Dolarhyde, is co-founder and editor of music news blog http://www.scenejumper.com Bruce had his first live gig at 15 and has had various jobs in the industry since. He spent years as a guitar tech, tour manager, endorsement liaison, bassist in a national act, and promoter in the Tampa Bay area of Florida.

    Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/

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    The Origins and Magic of Slide Guitar

    by Dennis Tryon

    It's a hot sultry night on the Mississippi delta. The full moon casts it's translucent light on the fields and swamp oak trees. The lingering smell of barbecue and wisteria mix with honeysuckle and tobacco smoke. Folks are sitting on the front porch trying to beat the heat. Someone picks up an old guitar and begins to play a familiar tune.

    The sound is unmistakable, cutting right to your heart, and emotions. It’s distinctive voice, almost human-like, hangs in the night air like a soulful cry. That is the signature sound of the slide guitar.

    Where did this style get its start? The prevailing wisdom attributes its birth to the old single string instrument called the jitterbug, used by black musicians around the turn of the 20th century. This instrument was simply a length of thin wire stretched between two nails on a post and played using an old bone or heavy nail. Some used a bottle or other smooth objects as well. One could play a lead line or improvise an accompaniment to folk, blues, and spiritual songs. The jitterbug was essentially one of the first blues instruments.

    There are ancient African instruments much like the jitterbug but using a gourd resonator with the single string. It, also, was played with a bone sliding up and down a neck to change pitches.

    As guitars became more available, a lot of the early blues and folk players adopted them. These guitars had terrible action and strings were scarce. Using a slide allowed playing on some really horrible guitars yet produced a very appealing sound. Using a glass or metal slide would also save the fingers!

    Guitars were very popular in the early part of the 20th century. Frequently, rural musicians got inexpensive guitars from a mail order catalogs. Banjos were very expensive at the time, but there is little evidence that players ever used a slide on a banjo.
    Some musicologists suggest that Hawaiian music was the greatest influence in popularizing slide guitar. This was about the time (early thirties) when steel bodied guitars were becoming available. This music was played in "slack-key" or an open tuning as it is called today. The guitar is tuned to an "open" or major chord, such as a Gmajor or Dmajor. There are many variations in these tunings, but most tunes are played in one of the three main open tunings.

    Hawaiian music was very influential in spreading the slide guitar craze throughout the country. This gave rise to a great demand for slide style guitars from manufacturers. The Hawaiian lap steel guitars were more popular than standard guitars all through the 1930's. All of the major manufacturers had offerings: Gibson; National; Dopera Brothers; (Dobro) Regal, just to mention a few. Hawaiian slide guitar was incorporated into every style of music from Jazz to Mountain Music. This has continued on to the present. The list of today’s accomplished slide players is large and ever growing.

    The adaptation of slide guitar techniques by early blues musicians is, perhaps, the ultimate marriage and is instantly recognizable. Some of the great masters of the past include: Son House; Tampa Red; Robert Johnson; and Muddy Waters, to name a few. These magical and soul filled sounds have captivated musicians and listeners alike.

    The voice like quality of a glass bottleneck or brass pipe sliding up and down a guitar string has a created musical tradition worthy of it longevity. It resonates with our emotions and has found a permanent home in our hearts. God bless those who aspire to the sound of the slide guitar.


    Denny Tryon author and slide guitarist. More slide and guitar resources can be found at my website; http://www.slideplayer.com.

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    How Does A Compressor Make An Audio Track Louder?

    By Brandon Drury

    A compressor is probably the most misunderstood of all tools in the recording studio. Ironically, its also one of the most powerful tools when recording or mixing. While there are many aspects of a compressor that could be written about, I'm going to explain how a compressor can make an audio track louder.

    So you want to learn how to use a compressor? Well good luck. It takes years to get even a decent feel for a compressor. I'm just now getting where I feel that a compressor will tolerate me playing with its settings. In the past, it was just laughing and mocking me because I just didn't understand how to use it to improve my recordings.

    So lets talk about how a compressor can make an audio tracker louder. Ironically, a compressor actually knocks the volume down on a track, but then has a makeup gain knob that boosts it back up. To understand how a compressor can make something louder, you need to understand the difference between peak loudness and average loudness (also called RMS). A peak is just what it says it is. Its a spike. The signal starts very low and goes very high. A good example of peak loudness is a snare drum hit. Average loudness is sound that occurs over time. Imagine hitting a low E on a bass guitar and letting it sustain. This is an almost constant sound.

    One other concept is the volume ceiling. In other words, in digital audio we have a volume limit. Its called zero. For whatever reason they measure volume in negative numbers with 0dB being the absolute loudest. If a track has a peak that jumps up to zero, we can not push the volume up on that track even if the other portions of the track are very low in volume (without volume automation).

    Now lets take an audio track that can be both peaky and constant. A vocal track is a great example. A vocal can jump up very quickly but it can also sustain. Lets say it hits 0db at one point, but most of the track is sitting well below that. You'll find that when the vocal is set at maximum gain before clipping, the many of the words are unintelligible. This is because they are simply too quite. Assuming there are no extreme problems, the first thing Ill usually do is grab a compressor. I'm go ahead and smash those peaks down and then I'll push the volume back up with the make up gain on the compressor. Now the vocal is evened up quite a bit. The vocal will sit in the track much better and will sound fuller.

    When mastering a record, compression is almost always used to make the volume of the cd louder. Most of the time, the cd is already hitting zero, so its peak volume will not increase. However, its RMS or average volume can increase substantially. When we put a compressor on stereo mix, we can smash the song down into a smaller dynamic range. It uses up less volume. While this can be a bad thing as the dynamics are decreased, these days overall volume seams to be more important (I'm not sure who decided this). After the compressor does its thing, the makeup gain is used to boost the level of the track up the desired amount.

    When you are learning the audio mixing process, I recommend using more compression than you think you need. Hit everything very hard. If it sounds distorted, back off. I think that compression is the opposite of reverb. While many beginning home recording enthusiasts will use too much reverb, they often times, do not use as much compression as the big boys. Experiment. This is different for everyone.

    In summary, a compressor is used to to knock off the top (loudest parts) of an audio signal and then uses its makeup gain to push the volume back up. It takes lots of time to master using a compressor. Keep in mind that you can do much more with a compressor than make things louder. As always, don't be afraid to experiment.


    About the Author: Brandon Drury has written numerous articles for his recording studio website

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