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Newsletter Home:  2006 | 2005


16th February, 2006


  • Health:  Discover Your Discomfort!  Why Are So Many Guitarists Masochists?
  • Artist:  Les Paul, 90, Wins Grammys
  • Learning:  Your Growth As A Guitarist: Vertical Or Horizontal
  • Learning:  Guitar: Learn Guitar By Not Playing Guitar
  • Gear:  Review of the Rivera Knucklehead Guitar Amp
  • Marketing:  Who Else Wants to Sky Rocket Their CD Sales, Fan base and Indie Music Career?
  • Recording:  What Is Pitch Correction? Can Singers Actually Sing Any More?
  • Recommendation: Guitar Made Simple


    Discover Your Discomfort!  Why Are So Many Guitarists Masochists?

    By Jamie Andreas

    Okay, Iím going to explain some powerful things for anyone who wants to see RESULTS from their guitar practice, and really learn how to play the guitar well. In other words, the guitarist who wants to do what I call CORRECT PRACTICE.

    Have you ever had trouble playing something on the guitar? Have you ever seen or heard someone play something, tried to do it yourself, maybe practiced it for a long time, and ended up with only frustration and bad feelings about yourself as a player? Be honest now. Iíve been playing for 30 years, and giving guitar lessons for 27 years, and I have never met a player, including myself, who could honestly answer no to that question.

    There are a few things that are always true when we are unable to play something we want to play on the guitar.

    One of the things that you will always find, if you look for it, is what Aaron Shearer called, in his first book, uncontrolled muscle tension. Many, many players have in fact commented on this fact, mainly because this fact becomes obvious to anyone who plays for awhile, pays attention, and starts to discover the path to gaining increasing ability on the guitar. Many people mention it. The problem is they never tell you what to do about it!

    Oh sure, youíll hear people say "play S-L-O-W-LY", or "RELAX"! I asked, ordered, screamed, and pleaded with students to do that for probably 20 years, before I realized that almost no one was listening to me, or maybe they didnít believe me, or maybe they thought I was kidding (well, his face is turning purple, but, nah, I donít think heís serious)!

    No, it seems most people would rather try to play that bar chord or that scale with their shoulders tensed up to their ears, their pinky tensed up and pulled 2 inches from the neck as they dislocate their shoulder trying to get it to itís note on time, practice and play that way day in and day out, and then wonder why they find that scale hard to play, that it breaks down at a certain speed. Or maybe they wonder why they have a pain here or there. Hell, they may be really persistent and keep at it till they qualify for this new disease Iím always reading about, Repetitive Strain Injury.

    I got a new student about a year ago, weíll call him Tom. Now Tom had been teaching himself for a few years, is very musical, very intelligent, and managed to learn fingerstyle guitar well enough to attempt some rather challenging pieces, including some classical repertoire. In fact, he would play for friends and often impress them.

    However, it was also true that he knew he never played anywhere near his best in these circumstances, and the piece would often break down somewhere. It was also true that he had a growing pain in his left shoulder when he practiced.

    Tom has two very important qualities that a player must have in order to overcome problems, and make what I call Vertical Growth. Those two things are Desire, and Honesty.

    Tom doesnít have the pain in his shoulder anymore, and his playing is getting better and better. This is because he has learned a few things. He has learned about the incredible state of muscular relaxation that a player must have as they play. He has learned how difficult it is to actually make sure you have that relaxation as you play. He has learned about Sympathetic Tension, how every time you use one muscle, others become tense also, and how if you are not aware of it, and allow it to be there, it becomes locked in to the muscles through the power of Muscle Memory.

    Tom is also learning, over time, that by always making the effort to focus his attention on this muscle tension, he can always eliminate some part of it, and by consistently doing this in practice, things begin to feel easier and easier, because he was really fighting his own muscle tension, which made it feel so hard.

    Tom inspired me to invent a phrase, something for him to always keep in mind when he practices. In fact, I told him to do what I do. Write it out on a sign and keep it somewhere in front of him as he practices. On the music stand or taped to the wall like I do. The phrase is "DISCOVER YOUR DISCOMFORT". Pay attention; notice what happens in the body as you play. How does it feel? Good players are not experiencing that discomfort when they do the thing you struggle to do. If they had to struggle they wouldnít be good players!

    Now as usually happens, I began to use the phrase myself, and began to discover new levels of my own discomfort. And I began to see my playing improve, I mean fundamentally improve. You see, there is no end to this process.

    Why do so many of us allow such discomfort when we practice and play? There are many reasons; Iíll go in to them at another time. What I want to do now is give you some ways of discovering your own discomfort, and begin to minimize it.

    • Hold the guitar as comfortably as you can.

    • Allow your left arm to hang limp at your side.

    • Place your right hand fingers on the strings, keeping them very loose and relaxed. If you use a pick, float the pick in between two strings and keep it there.

    • Focus your attention on your shoulders, as you raise your left hand slowly. Raise it straight up without extending it, and place all your fingers on the sixth string, around the tenth fret. Keep them on the string so lightly, you donít even press the string down. (Not easy at first)!

    • Do you feel anything in your right shoulder as you do this? Do you feel any tightness come in to the pick hand, perhaps you are gripping the pick tighter, or tensing your wrist? Be honest now.

    Keeping your left hand fingers on the string lightly, begin to move your hand down toward the first fret. You must do this VERY SLOWLY. Notice what happens throughout your body. As I have had students do this, I have seen everything from tense ankles or belly, to practically falling off the chair!

    I hope I have provided a starting point for further investigations and insights for you. Take anything you find hard to do, stop yourself in the middle of it, and check out what is happening in your body. You will be amazed.

    Copyright 2000 Jamie Andreas. All rights reserved. Used by permission. Free! 10 Things You Can Do Right Now to Become a Better Guitarist!

    ďThe Principles of Correct Practice for Guitar,Ē the Perfect Start for Beginners, the Answer to the Problems of Players. Start to play the guitar without getting bad habits, or get rid of the bad habits you already have, by knowing how to do "perfect practice" with the Principles of Correct Practice for Guitar. Visit:

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    Les Paul, 90, Wins Grammys

    9th February 2006

    ELECTRIC guitar innovator Les Paul won two Grammy Awards for an all-star album marking his 90th birthday.  Unfortunately, due to hospitalisation with pneumonia, he was unable to pick then up in person. In a radio interview however, he sounded bright and chirpy, vowing he would be in better health soon.

    Paul, famous for his name on a brand of guitars used by rock stars since the 1950s, won his trophies in the pop instrumental performance category for the track Caravan, and in the rock instrumental performance category for the track 69 Freedom Special, credited to Les Paul and Friends.

    The tracks come from the album Les Paul & Friends: American Made World Played,, his first release since 1978's Chester & Lester with late Nashville icon Chet Atkin which marked the only other time he won a Grammy.

    The new CD features such guitarists as Jeff Beck, Billy Gibbons and Keith Richards accompanying Paul on classic rock and R&B songs.

    Ill-health also forced him to pull out of a recent all-star tribute concert in Los Angeles, featuring the likes of former Guns 'N Roses guitarist Slash, Aerosmith's Joe Perry, and bluesmen Buddy Guy and Hubert Sumlin. He did however appear via satellite feed.

    Paul has been a dominant force in the music business since World War II. He and wife Mary Ford enjoyed a string of hits in the 1940s and '50s with such million-sellers as Mockin' Bird Hill and How High the Moon.

    In  1941 Paul designed and built one of the first solid-body electric guitars (though Leo Fencer also independently invented his own solid-body electric guitar around the same time, and Adolph Rickenbacker had marketed a solid-body guitar in the 30s).  Gibson Guitar Company made a number of these guitars for Paul, but insisted that their name be left off of the instrument. In later years, they would change their mind. These days,  Gibson Les Paul guitars are used all over the world, both by novices and professionals.

    In 1947, Capital Records released a recording that had begun as an experiment in Paul's garage, entitled "Lover (When You're Near Me)", which featured Paul playing eight different parts on electric guitar. This was the first time that multi-tracking had been used in a recording.

    Amazingly, these recordings were made, not with magnetic tape, but with wax disks. Paul would record a track onto a disk, then record himself playing another part with the first. He built the multi-track recording with overlaid tracks, rather than parallel ones as he did later. There is no record of how few 'takes' were needed before he was satisfied with one layer and moved onto the next.

    Paul even built his own wax-cutter assembly, based on auto parts. He favoured the flywheel from a Cadillac for its weight and flatness. Even in these early days, he used the wax disk setup to record parts at different speeds and with delay, resulting in his signature sound with echoes and birdsong-like guitar riffs. When he later began using magnetic tape, the major change was that he could take his recording rig on tour with him, even making episodes for his 15-minute radio show in his hotel room.

    Paul was injured in a near-fatal automobile accident in January 1948 in Oklahoma, which shattered his right arm and elbow. Paul spent a year and a half recovering. Paul instructed the surgeons to set his arm at an angle that would allow him to cradle and pick the guitar.

    In the early 1950's, Paul made a number of recordings with wife, Colleen Summers (known on record as Mary Ford ). These records were unique for their heavy use of overdubbing, which was technically impossible without Paul's inventions. In 1954 Paul, continued to develop this technology, by commissioning Ampex to build the first eight track tape recorder, at his expense. His idea, later known as "Sel-Sync," in which a recording head could simultaneously record a new track and play back previously recorded ones, would further establish the future of multi-track recording.

    During his early radio shows, Paul introduced the mythical "Les Paulverizer" device, which was supposed to multiply anything fed into it, like a guitar sound or a voice. This even became the subject of comedy, with Mary Ford multiplying herself and her vacuum cleaner with it so she could finish the housework faster (a typical joke in the pre-feminist era). Later Paul made the myth real for his stage show, using hidden equipment which over the years has become smaller and more visible.

    Currently he uses a small box attached to his guitar - it is not known how much of the device remains off-stage. He typically lays down one track after another on stage, in-sync, and then plays over the repeating forms he has recorded. With newer digital sound technology, such an effect is available commercially.

    Despite arthritis and hearing problems, Paul remains an indefatigable musician. He holds court every week at Iridium, a New York jazz club, often trading licks with youngsters who want to prove their mettle. 

    He often remarks at shows "When I introduce myself to people, they are always surprised to learn that I'm not a guitar and I'm not dead!"

    Sources:  Newspaper reports, Wikepedia (The Free Encyclopedia)

    Your Growth As A Guitarist: Vertical Or Horizontal

    By Jamie Andreas


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    Guitar: Learn Guitar By Not Playing Guitar

    By Peter Edvinsson

    I suppose you think that you learn guitar by playing guitar. Well, do you learn to say the right things by talking all the time? Let's take a look at the art of not playing guitar...

    How can you learn to play guitar by not playing? Is it really possible to develop as a guitarist without touching the instrument?

    In weight training it is an established fact that muscle growth takes place during rest, for example when you sleep. It doesnít mean that you will become a famous muscle builder by sleeping. Sleeping is just a part of the overall picture called muscle growth.

    Donít ever think that you will become a good guitarist by not playing guitar at all!

    But I define a good guitarist as a good musician. A good musician can convey his musical emotions to somebody else and this ability takes more than just practicing moving the fingers among all those guitar strings.


    What can you do to become a better guitarist and a musician when you don't play? Let me give you a few suggestions:

    1. If you play classical guitar, get into the habit of often reading guitar sheet music without your guitar. This practice gives you training in the art of hearing the sheet music in your head and also gives you a better chance to really learn notational symbols in the music and rhythmic subtleties.

    2. Take a week off from your guitar playing every now and then and use all your musical energy listening to good music or just being a good citizen. Learn to spot musical and artistic heights in the music. Listen to all types of instrumentalists. With concentration. My best listening position is laying flat on my bed with headphones on forgetting the rest of the world. Maybe you have another approach.

    If you feel and enjoy musical and artistic expressions in the music these will probably be implemented in your own guitar playing sooner or later.

    3. Be a good musical friend by helping somebody else to play. It will help you become more unselfish and like people more. Well, maybe you already like people sufficiently but to learn to like people is part of our development as musicians as we are supposed to give of ourselves to others when we play.

    4. Prepare your body and mind for playing guitar by learning the art of relaxation and stretching your muscles. You can of course find articles on these subjects on the net. Performing in a relaxed manner will help you enjoy your own music more and will help your public to relax and enjoy your music too.

    5. Take time to sit down, or stand up if you like, and ponder about what guitar playing means to you. Is there something that you would like to develop in your guitar playing that will give you more joy and happiness. Set a realistic goal and write down what you can do every week to accomplish that goal.

    I believe in practicing on my guitar of course but I hope that these pieces of advice concerning not playing guitar will increase your love for your guitar and the art of playing and giving musical joy to others!


    Peter Edvinsson is a musician, composer and music teacher. Visit his site Capotasto Music and download your free sheet music and learn to play resources at

    Article Source:


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    Review of the Rivera Knucklehead Guitar Amp  

    by Brandon Drury

    I've owned my Rivera Knucklehead since 1998. It's a small part of my guitar amp collection which consists of more than 5 amps. I'll tell you how the Rivera Knucklehead performs both on stage and in the studio.
    Not surprising, Rivera is owned by some guy named Paul Rivera. I guess it's a little surprising that his name is Paul, but that's about it. While I hate to spread rumors about facts I don't know, this is press, and that's that the press is all about. The rumor on the street is that Paul Rivera worked for both Marshall and Fender for years modifying guitar amplifiers for the rock stars that could afford to have them modified. If this is true, it will explain a lot about the Rivera Knucklehead.

    The Rivera Knucklehead is a 100 watt, all tube, 2 - channel guitar head. Each channel has a gain boost. Both channel switching and the gain boosts can be controlled by the footswitch. As with every 100 watt head, this thing is ferociously loud. It contains an effects loop with control of input and output for effects and whatnot. The Knucklehead uses 5 12ax7 tubes for the preamps and 4 EL 34 power tubes. Each channel contains tone controls and a Focus and a Presence knob are global, which means they effect both channels. It would have been nice to have a spring reverb on the Rivera. That's the only feature that it's lacking.

    American Channel (Clean Channel) First off, I must say that the clean channel isn't so much like a clean channel, necessarily. It's more like a Fender channel. I mean that if you crank up the gain on the clean channel, you will have a very distorted sound in the way that a Fender distorts. This sound is not going to be what you want for metal in most cases, although it might pull off an Iron Maiden type of sound. Turning the "Ninja Boost" off and backing the gain down brings you back down into Fender territory. It's not an exact clone of the Fender sound, necessarily. The tubes used are not typically found in Fenders and even if you had the same tubes, the Fender sound is quite different from amp to amp.

    You have tremendous options in your tone. I mean TREMENDOUS!!! You have the typical bass, mids, and treble. By pulling out the treble pot you engage the "bright boost" and when you pull out the mids you engage the "mid scoop". The tone controls are the most sensitive that I've ever seen on a guitar amplifier. In fact, the tone knobs can be too sensitive.

    Plugging a strat or tele gives you the real deal tone. It's pretty much a Fender amplifier. Plugging a Les Paul or PRS is a different ball game. The tones are absurd on this channel. You should be able to get anything you want out of this Fender side that you would expect a Fender to do. This amp is very sensitive to different guitars and it's tone will change more drastically than other amps.

    Distortion Channel (Marshall Channel) Alright, I called this side of the amp the Marshall channel. The tone is not exactly a Marshall. I own a 1971 Marshall Super Lead. It's sound is quite a bit different than what you hear in the Rivera. I wouldn't say the tone is necessarily better or worse, but different. When you get to this caliber of guitar amplifiers, they are all good, it's just a matter or preference.

    The distortion channel has a gain boost, bass, mids, and treble. Once again, these tone controls are as sensitive as you will ever find in a guitar amp. It's stupid how much control you have over your tone. This amp has too much gain, if you want too much gain. With a Les Paul, I don't think I've put the gain past 12 O Clock, ever. You would not believe how different this amp sounds when you take the mids to 0 and then up to 10. It's a night and day difference. With the gain boost turned off, this thing feels like a good medium to low gain distorted amplifier.

    As I said, choosing the right guitar and tone settings can be time consuming, but getting whatever you want is a possibility. It's worth trying all your guitars with this amp. There will be some that obviously shine more than others. In this setting, it's no problem at all pulling off tones such as AC/DC and other 70s tones. I'd probably go with my 1971 Superlead first for this application though, just because of the tone differences, but I could make a guitar player looking for that tone very happy as well.

    When you engage the gain boost, this thing is all out death. I'm talking deathmetal death, if that's what you are looking for. In my opinion turning up the gain to a stupid amount, cranking the lows and highs, and scooping out all the mids is tremendous overkill. I'd say it's unusable. The kid down the street may totally love it, though. I guess that's the great thing about this amp. You can make the sound too thin or too thick....too bright or too dull. It's up to your playing, your guitar, and your tone settings.

    With the gain boost on and the all settings on 7, this amp is a full blown rock machine The tones inside this amp are impressive. You will find a sound that you like. It just takes some time to find that perfect combination. This takes more time than a Marshall does. Sometimes the mids on 5 are too much when the lows are on 6. But lowering the lows down to 5 might require a little more mids, for example. I'm saying that the tone controls are high dependent on each other.

    This amp would always be my first choice playing out live. It's a mammoth sound if I want and gives me 4 great sounds with the footswitch. Going from mega gain to dirty clean is just a step away. Going from pretty clean to low gain distortion is also just a click away. I'd say it's one of the best live amps you can buy.

    In the studio.... well, this thing gets used on just about every project I do. I haven't found a project that it didn't work well on. I've recorded country, rock, and death metal with this amp and every single one of them was very happy with it.

    In conclusion, I wouldn't change a thing about the Rivera. It is worth every penny.

    About The Author:  Brandon Drury's site, has links to all sorts of free recording software.

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    Who Else Wants To Sky Rocket Their CD Sales, Fan Base and Indie Music Career?

    By Ty Cohen

    If YOU Answered YES, Then Start An Online NewsletterÖItís Easy, Hereís How!

    Iíve always praised the benefits of using a newsletter to promote your music, but this article give a bit more detail into how to go about it.

    First, there are tons of different providers out there that can send out your email newsletter. Some are expensive while other like allow you to make one free if you sell products through them. Although this isnít EVERYTHING you could do it is a good starting place.

    Define the letter Ė is it going to be strictly about your band or other acts in your genre? You might be able to pick up other readers/listeners who werenít aware of your music, but know other acts if you go broader.

    Develop a schedule. Are you going to do it daily, weekly, monthly? Whatever you choose does not matter. The most important part is to stick to it, once people get to reading and enjoying your newsletter, theyíll expect to receive it on time, all the time.

    How much content will it contain?

    Are you going to have one page or six pages? Try to make the content the same size each issue.

    K.I.S.S Ė Yet again, keep it simple stupid. That means staying on topic and writing in a tone that is both understandable and friendly.

    Ask for reader feedback. Perhaps someone might have an idea for a new feature or they may have a hot news tip. Always answer your readerís requests and emails regardless of if you use their idea or not.

    Keep copy short and in the active voice. Avoid passive words if you can and give your articles some kick. Youíre writing for people, not Harvard educators so keep your tone to one that people will enjoy looking at each week.

    Extra set of eyes. Always have an extra set of eyes look over everything you send out. Even with our newsletter and sites,, and we always have someone look the pages over for typos, spelling, grammar, etc. You want to inform people, but you also want to come off as intelligent when you do it.

    A newsletter is not a difficult feat, in fact you can easily get started in an afternoon. If you lack the time and skills then hire someone to do the task or see that your manager and/or promoter informs your followers of all the news they need to know.

    About The Author: This article was written by Ty Cohen, the music industry's most recognizable voice! Ty is the C.E.O of Platinum Millennium Publishing, Platinum Millennium Records as well as owner of and
    Some of his work includes: books, directories, mini-courses and software programs including the titles: "How to Make a Fortune in the Music Industry by Doing it Yourself" and "How to Make $500,000.00 "or More" A Year in the Music Industry by Doing it Yourself".


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    What Is Pitch Correction? - Can Singers Sctually Sing Anymore?

    By Michael Oliphant

    Not all that long ago, record producers and engineers used to spend long hours with singers in the studio making sure that they got the best possible take of their performance. It was very important to make sure that the singer sang everything in tune and that there was no 'pitchiness' or parts of the melody that were sung a little flat or sharp. This was critical for it meant that when it came time to mix the track, there was simply no way to correct a performance for pitch.

    This all changed with the invention of pitch correction software. Most studio recordings these days are done on what is known as a 'DAW'. This stands for Digital Audio Workstation and has become the standard throughout the music industry replacing tape based multitrack machines. Because the process is entirely digital it means that the recorded audio can be processed in ways that most musicians never even dreamed of in years passed.

    Remember when Cher had a huge hit with a song called 'Believe'? That strange warbling effect on the vocal is actually created by the pitch correction software. Someone discovered that by setting it to over-correct it would actually produce a pleasing effect. Like all these things it has been over-used since by many artists.

    Pitch correction works by analysing the audio and re-sampling it back to correct pitch. It operates in real time which means that a studio engineer can apply pitch correction to a vocal where and when it is needed. Many regard pitch correction as a lifesaver in the studio. Singers often feel relieved that a great performance need not be erased and redone simply because one or two notes may have been a little flat or sharp. Studios often see it as a great time saver as it reduces the need to record many takes in the hope of getting a performance that is completely in key.

    There is however, a downside to all this. Many studio producers now argue that singers have become overly reliant on this technology and have almost forgotten one of the most basic requirements of great singing - singing in key.

    Can you tell when pitch correction has been used on a singer in a recording? The software is now so good that, in experienced hands, it is nearly impossible to tell when it is used subtly. Many vocal recordings made these days on current cd's use some form of pitch correction. Does that surprise you? From the singer's perspective it is a very seductive technology. It can certainly make a "pitchy" singer sound very much in key without revealing any lack of ability in that area.

    We have become so used to the effect of technology on our music that much of this technological innovation becomes the norm in a very short while. Remember a band called Milli Vanilli? They became the laughing stock of the music business and ended their careers when it was discovered that they had not even sung on their own recordings! Yet we seem completely comfortable now with the idea that singers don't need to be able to sing in tune when they record.

    The funny thing is that singing in key is just a learned technique like most other musical skills. It requires practice and solid singing technique but there are few people who cannot do it at all. Singing in a recording studio can be an unnerving experience for the first timer. The studio environment is designed to reveal all the nuance of the human voice and can tax even an accomplished singer at times.

    Pitch correction is one of the most practical and useful tools in recording today but remember that it won't make you a great singer. Only you can do that.


    About the Author:  Michael Oliphant is a successful musician, producer songwriter and web developer.

    He is co-producer of Explore Your Voice, the innovative and
    successful online singing course that streams to your PC. The Explore Your Voice Show Podcast Explore Your Voice Singing Lessons


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    Guitar Made Simple

    Product Recommendation

    We've been waiting for this one for a while and it's finally here!  Brand new and only in its first few weeks of release, Guitar Made Simple was developed by internationally acclaimed recording artist Chris Standring (who wrote the proven jazz guitar method "Play What You Hear").

    With this method, you can learn to play electric and acoustic guitar quickly and easily.  It's  the most amazing step-by-step interactive program available today.  Without a doubt this unique and brilliant method for beginners and intermediates is the future of guitar instruction.

    After thoroughly researching the  websites, courses, methods and DVDs for learning guitar, Chris found that most of them discussed particular aspects of the guitar that the student could not fully absorb. In other words, in order to play this, one has to know that, and all too often that important knowledge is not discussed at all.  In short, most method were just way too scattered and not thorough enough.

    'Guitar Made Simple' is an extremely well thought out beginners program, with a very thorough and personal approach to help you easily learn how to play the guitar... the right way!  So much more than trying to learn alone with just a book, this brilliant system connects with you as if an instructor is right with you in your own home.  Donít just take our word for it though, take a look for yourself!

    Click here to find out more - don't delay!  Read Review


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