Attakulla Performing “Cry Some Other Day”. Video of my band, Attakulla, performing last weekend in Indianapolis. Recording music is great but if you can’t also perform it then you’re missing out on all the fun. Get out and play people!
What You Should Never Forget to Bring With You When Guitar Shopping. I recently stopped by a local Guitar Center to check out a Gibson I’d been eyeing. I made the ultimate mistake: walking into the store without my pedal board. Why is this a problem? First, nearly every guitar in the store will be out of tune. You’re gonna want your tuner pedal. Plus, it’s likely the store’s guitars will have old, crappy strings on it. This makes it likely it’ll go out of tune even faster. There’s no way to determine how good a guitar will sound if the strings are always flat or sharp. Second, if you’re buying a new guitar you need to know how it will sound through your gear, not the store’s gear. So bring your pedals. Heck, bring your amp too. I’ve done this before and it makes a huge difference. I’ve trained my ears to the sound of my gear. But if I play a new guitar through a completely different amp how will I know if it’s the guitar or the amp (or both) that sounds different? Finally, avoid the despair of coming home from the store with your shiny new instrument (and a sense of excitement) only to realize that it sounds completely dreadful through your gear. Please, if you go guitar shopping bring your own gear!
Picks Make A Difference to Guitar Tone. I honestly didn’t believe this until I noticed that over the years I steadily gone from using .88 mm picks all the way down to .50 mm. This change has occurred over the course of four years. Green, yellow, orange and now red. I’ve used nearly all of these Dunlop picks. Do my ears notice the difference? Yep. The heavier the pick, the darker the tone and vice-versa for the thinner picks. By the way, I normally play rhythm guitar. Those .50 mm picks might get a little flimsy for lead players.
VibeDeck: I’m in love with this service! I found VibeDeck just the other day after seeing it on another artist’s site. Immediately I created my own account and installed the widget on my band’s homepage. Already we’re getting more album downloads than we had through other platforms and we’re adding several new email addresses to our distribution list. VibeDeck reminds me a lot of the Topspin widget I’ve seen on the sites of large national artists. It looks similar and has some of the same functionality but it’s available for smaller, local artists like me. I highly recommend checking out VibeDeck. You can see how it looks on my site: attakulla.com
Toontrack EZkeys. Look, I’m not going to blame anyone that feels a need to use a MIDI tool like this to write and record songs, but if you can work with an actual pianist, please do so! Not because I want you to support local musicians (though that’s good too), but because your songs will have some life to them. Just like with drum sampling software, your music can come across as lifeless if it’s always locked into a grid. Real drummers and pianists add flavor with subtle touches. And sometimes those touches are actually slight imperfections. It’s those imperfections that simply cannot be replicated by software. Again, if you don’t have access to a decent keys player or a talented drummer, by all means, try your hand at these MIDI programs. But don’t get your hopes up. Music is all about creating an emotion. Don’t let perfection get in the way of a good piece of music.
Glen Phillips Guitar Pedals. The other week I went with my wife to a Toad The Wet Sprocket concert. Nice ’90s nostalgia show. After the show I took a photo of Glen Phillips guitar pedal chain. From what I can see he’s using a BOSS TU-2, BOSS OC-2, RAT distortion, Fulltone OCD, Line 6 MP Stompbox Modeler, plus a Line 6 Relay G30 Digital Wireless Guitar System. For his acoustic guitar he’s got a Korg Pitch Black tuner through a Radial J48 DI box.