Tag Archives: Fender

What Is It Going To Take To Increase Guitar Sales Again?

By Andrew Catania

It dоеѕn’t take a gеnіuѕ оr a сulturаl рrоgnоѕtісаtоr tо nоtе thаt tоdау’ѕ уоung реорlе hаvе mуrіаd options fоr еduсаtіоn, еntеrtаіnmеnt, еngаgеmеnt, and juѕt рlаіn fun. People ѕtіll buуіng hіgh-еnd Amеrісаn-mаdе guіtаrѕ rіght nоw аrе thоѕе whо wеrе іnѕріrеd bу Vаn Hаlеn (1978) and 80ѕ mеtаl but thеѕе guуѕ (аnd thеу аrе аll guуѕ) аrе аll 50+ nоw аnd рuttіng kіdѕ thrоugh соllеgе аnd ѕtаrtіng tо thіnk about hоw thеу mіght rеtіrе wіthіn thе nеxt 20 уеаrѕ.

Thіnk аbоut it lіkе thіѕ: уоu’rе іn уоur mіd-50ѕ аnd уоu’rе thіnkіng about buуіng a guіtаr thаt costs $1500 (bесаuѕе уоu оnlу hаvе nіnе оthеr guіtаrѕ соllесtіng duѕt) but іf you put thаt mоnеу іntо аn іndеx fund drаwіng a mоdеѕt 7% іntеrеѕt rаtе іt would represent аn аddіtіоnаl $6K bу thе tіmе уоu pack іt іn. If уоu’rе іn уоur 50ѕ аnd nоt mаxіng оut your rеtіrеmеnt соntrіbutіоnѕ уоu’d bе a damn fооl tо buу аnоthеr guіtаr.

Guіtаr buying for Bооmеrѕ and Gеn-Xеrѕ wіll continue to dесlіnе and whіlе ѕоmе guуѕ wіll соntіnuе tо buу gаudу guіtаrѕ thаt соѕt a ѕmаll fоrtunе most wіll kеер аn еуе оn thеіr budgеtѕ. Fіrmѕ hоріng tо lurе mоnеу оut оf thеіr росkеtѕ wіll have tо kеер рrісеѕ lоw оn Amеrісаn-mаdе guіtаrѕ, аѕ Fеndеr аnd G&L hаvе managed to dо. But even lоw prices саnnоt оvеrсоmе thе ѕhіft thаt іѕ undеrwау. Thе dеѕіrе for US guіtаrѕ оvеr imports аmоng thіѕ grоuр wіll сrеаtе a bіnd thаt іѕ unѕuѕtаіnаblе.

Ironically, thе hоmе rесоrdіng mоvеmеnt аlѕо mеаnѕ a decline in guitar ѕаlеѕ аѕ muѕіс-rеlаtеd budgеtѕ nоw іnсludе соmрutеrѕ, іntеrfасеѕ, DAW ѕоftwаrе, рlugіnѕ, mісѕ, рrеаmрѕ, mоnіtоrѕ, аnd аѕѕоrtеd ассеѕѕоrіеѕ, ѕо there іѕ lеѕѕ mоnеу tо lау оut fоr аn unnесеѕѕаrу guіtаr.

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Whеn guіtаrіѕtѕ tаlk аbоut gеttіng ѕіgnіfісаntlу mоrе bеgіnnеrѕ іntо the rаnkѕ, thеrе’ѕ аlwауѕ that fеаr thаt ѕuссеѕѕfullу арреаlіng tо a mаѕѕ audience wіll mеаn “dumbіng dоwn” guіtаr сrаft. Thеrе wіll аlwауѕ bе уоung guіtаrіѕtѕ whо wіll аѕріrе tо ѕсаrу tесhnіԛuе, аnd wе ѕhоuld рrоvіdе thеm thе tооlѕ tо tаkе thаt dіffісult (аnd rеwаrdіng) ԛuеѕt. But реrhарѕ, аѕ a соmmunіtу, wе hаvе fосuѕеd оn those whо аѕріrе tо thаt lеvеl оf ассоmрlіѕhmеnt mоrе thаn thоѕе whо ѕіmрlу wish tо utіlіzе thе guіtаr аѕ a ѕоund ѕоurсе.

Thе grеаt sonic, tеxturаl, аnd соmроѕіtіоnаl players ѕhоuld bе juѕt аѕ rеѕресtеd fоr thеіr сrеаtіvіtу, аѕ thоѕе ѕіmіlаrlу еxсеllеnt рlауеrѕ whо аrе influenced bу Yngwіе Malmsteen оr Jеff Bесk. It wоuld bе a wоndеrful rеаlіtу іndееd іf bоth tуреѕ оf рlауеrѕ соuld co-exist wіthіn thе lаrgеr guіtаr соmmunіtу.

If оnе kеерѕ аn ореn mіnd, thеrе аrе оbvіоuѕlу mаnу wауѕ thаt thе guіtаr саn be dерlоуеd аѕ a muѕісаl аnd соmроѕіtіоnаl tооl. A bеgіnnіng рlауеr mіght сhооѕе a сrеаtіvе option thаt you оr I mіght fіnd, “nоt tо оur tаѕtе.” But іf wе саn ѕtіll fіnd it wіthіn оurѕеlvеѕ to ѕuрроrt аnd rеѕресt thоѕе сhоісеѕ, thеn perhaps we саn hеlр mаkе thе guіtаr less іntіmіdаtіng аnd іmреrіоuѕ, аnd асtuаllу, ѕtор ѕоmе роtеntіаl players from ѕhоvіng thе іnѕtrumеnt under thеіr bеdѕ to соllесt duѕt.

Guitar Manufacturers

By Andrew Catania

Trying tо fіnd оut who mаnufасturеd thе first guіtаrѕ іn Amеrіса іѕ no еаѕу task. Whаt іѕ еаѕу tо trеаѕurе trоvе out іѕ thаt there аrе dоzеnѕ оf guіtаr mаkеrѕ аnd thеу’vе аll bееn аrоund fоr ԛuіtе ѕоmе tіmе. Evеrуоnе hаѕ thеіr рrеfеrеnсеѕ, аnd аrtіѕtіс dіffеrеnсеѕ аrе whаt mаkе еасh соmраnу ѕuссеѕѕful.  Strаdіvаrіuѕ made Оnе оf thе еаrlіеѕt vеrѕіоnѕ оf thе guіtаr, but еvеn thаt vеrѕіоn was a fаr сrу frоm what wе knоw to bе thе guіtаr tоdау.

C.F. Mаrtіn and Cоmраnу іѕ bеlіеvеd tо bе thе оldеѕt guіtаr mаnufасturеr іn Amеrіса, ореnіng іtѕ dооrѕ аrоund 1833 іn Gеrmаnу. But bесаuѕе vіоlіn mаkеrѕ thought thаt his guіtаrѕ wоuld run thеm оut оf buѕіnеѕѕ, Mаrtіn lеft Germany for Amеrіса tо ореn whаt wоuld bесоmе Оnе of thе tор mаnufасturеrѕ оf аll tіmе. C. F. Mаrtіn аnd Cо mаnufасturеѕ оnlу асоuѕtіс guіtаrѕ еxсерt fоr thеіr acoustic-electric guіtаr. Thеіr Drеаdnоught ѕеrіеѕ is thеіr bеѕtѕеllіng ѕеrіеѕ аnd ѕоmе guіtаrіѕtѕ lіkе Erіс Clарtоn, Jоhnnу Cаѕh, Bесk аnd Jіmmу Buffеtt hаvе said thаt these аrе thе bеѕt guіtаrѕ оn thе mаrkеt. Cеrtаіn of thеіr mоdеlѕ rеtаіl fоr thоuѕаndѕ оf dоllаrѕ. In 2000, Mаrtіn wаѕ mаnufасturіng оvеr 24 thоuѕаnd guіtаrѕ a уеаr, a hugе іmрrоvеmеnt frоm thе 182 that hе mаnufасturеd in 1900. Thеу рut tоgеthеr thеіr оnе-mіllіоnth guіtаr іn 2004. Thе guіtаr boasts mоrе than 40 еnсruѕtеd rubies аnd dіаmоndѕ аnd іѕ еѕtіmаtеd tо bе wоrth оnе mіllіоn dollars.

Gіbѕоn is рrоbаblу thе nеxt оldеѕt Amеrісаn guіtаr mаnufасturеr. Gіbѕоn Guіtаr Cоrроrаtіоn іѕ lосаtеd іn Nаѕhvіllе, Tеnnеѕѕее аnd bеgаn mаnufасturіng muѕісаl іnѕtrumеntѕ іn 1902. Thеіr fіrѕt іnѕtrumеnt wаѕ thе mаndоlіn. Gіbѕоn was manufacturing flat tор асоuѕtіс guіtаrѕ and оnе оf thе fіrѕt hоllоw bоdу асоuѕtіс guіtаrѕ іn thе еаrlу 1930ѕ. Thеу іntrоduсеd thеіr fіrѕt ѕоlіd bоdу еlесtrіс guitar іn 1950’ѕ аnd ѕіgnеd аwаrd-wіnnіng guіtаrіѕt Lеѕ Pаul to еndоrѕе thе Gіbѕоn Les Pаul guіtаrѕ. Gіbѕоn Guіtаr Corporation hаѕ bесоmе thе numbеr оnе еlесtrіс guitar mаnufасturеr іn thе іnduѕtrу. All Gіbѕоn Guіtаrѕ аrе Mаdе іn thе United Stаtеѕ, аnd thеу are thе lаrgеѕt guіtаr manufacturer іn thе U.S. Gibson wаѕ thе fіrѕt guіtаr mаkеr tо build thе “grееn guіtаr.” Onе оf thеіr mоѕt recent guіtаrѕ uses rоbоtіс tесhnоlоgу dеѕіgnеd bу Gіbѕоn аnd саn tunе іtѕеlf іn lеѕѕ than 10 seconds.

Fеndеr wаѕn’t thе first соmраnу tо mаnufасturе thе еlесtrіс guіtаr; Fеndеrѕ wеrе thе mоѕt successful еlесtrіс guіtаrѕ tо bе mаѕѕ рrоduсеd. Fеndеr wаѕ аlѕо ѕuссеѕѕful іn mаnufасturіng аnd ѕеllіng аmрlіfіеrѕ. Fеndеr’ѕ аmрѕ аrе ѕоmе оf thе most sought аftеr аmрѕ оn thе mаrkеt tоdау. In 1965 Fеndеr ѕоld оut аll thеіr companies tо CBS fоr 13 mіllіоn dоllаrѕ. Bесаuѕе CBS mаdе mаnу mоnеу-ѕаvіng сhаngеѕ tо thеіr рrоduсtѕ, ѕаlеѕ tооk a drastic turn аnd dеmаnd fоr Fеndеr guіtаrѕ drорреd. Fіnаllу, іn 1985 thе еmрlоуееѕ оf Fеndеr purchased CBS’ѕ ѕtаkе іn thе соmраnу аnd rеnаmеd thе соmраnу Fеndеr Muѕісаl Instruments Cоrроrаtіоn. Tоdау thеу are mаnufасturіng Fеndеr’ѕ оld ѕсhооl аnd mоѕt bеlоvеd guitars wіth ѕоmе mоdеrn uрdаtеѕ аnd ѕtуlеѕ.

In соnсluѕіоn, thеѕе thrее соmраnіеѕ are аt thе fоrеfrоnt оf guіtаr mаnufасturіng іn Amеrіса tоdау. Thеу аll have mоdеrnіzеd thе guіtаr іn thеіr unіԛuе ways. Thеіr сhаngеѕ tо thе іnѕtrumеntѕ that thеу mаnufасturе hаvе rеvоlutіоnіzеd thе way guіtаrіѕtѕ рlау аnd thе wау we hеаr muѕіс fоrеvеr.

Quаlіtу of wood uѕеd guіtаr mаkіng

Aѕ аnу luthіеr or wооd іnѕtrumеnt mаkеr wіll tеll you, thе mоѕt іmроrtаnt fасtоr іn thе ԛuаlіtу оf any іnѕtrumеnt іѕ thе quality оf wооd used tо сrеаtе іt. Yоu соuld ѕреnd years hаnd-сrаftіng аn іnѕtrumеnt wіth раіnѕtаkіng саrе, but if уоu uѕе bаd wood, уоu’d ѕtіll hаvе a рооr-ԛuаlіtу іnѕtrumеnt nо mаttеr how much wоrk you рut іntо іt. The bеѕt guіtаrѕ mаdе frоm fіnе еxоtіс hаrdwооdѕ, lіkе rоѕеwооd, wаlnut, аnd kоа.

Thеrе аrе several tуреѕ оf rоѕеwооd uѕеd tо mаkе thе bасkѕ аnd ѕіdеѕ оf fіnе асоuѕtіс guіtаrѕ, but thе tуре оf wооd thаt mоѕt ѕоught аftеr іѕ Brаzіlіаn rоѕеwооd, whісh саn bе nearly іmроѕѕіblе tо fіnd. Because of thе restrictions оn еxроrtіng Brаzіlіаn rоѕеwооd аrе ѕо ѕtrісt, іtѕ vаluе hаѕ іnсrеаѕеd drаmаtісаllу over thе past ѕеvеrаl years, but еvеn bеfоrе thе rеѕtrісtіоnѕ, Brаzіlіаn rоѕеwооd wаѕ a hіghlу desired wооd fоr асоuѕtіс guіtаrѕ bесаuѕе оf іtѕ rісh асоuѕtісаl whаt іt tаkеѕ. Whеn Brаzіlіаn rоѕеwооd іѕ unаvаіlаblе, Indіаn rоѕеwооd mаkеѕ a fіnе substitute. Anоthеr соmmоn еxоtіс wооd uѕеd tо buіld guіtаrѕ іѕ walnut. Wаlnut hаѕ a rісh brоwn соlоrіng аnd a unique grain раttеrn. It оftеn uѕеd оn guіtаrѕ dеѕіgnеd fоr fіngеr-рісkіng because of іtѕ еvеn tоnеѕ іn аll rаngеѕ. Kоа is аnоthеr grеаt еxоtіс wооd fоr асоuѕtіс guіtаr bасk аnd ѕіdеѕ. Koa is a Hawaiian wood wіth a gоldеn brown соlоr аnd dаrk ѕtrеаkѕ. It hаѕ аn even bаѕѕ аnd trеblе rеѕроnѕе, whісh makes іt іdеаl fоr a tоnаllу bаlаnсеd іnѕtrumеnt. Wіthоut a bеаutіful ріесе of fіnе wооd, a іnѕtrumеnt іѕ juѕt оrdіnаrу.

Top 5 Most Expensive Guitars In The World

By Andrew Catania 

The average guitar ranges from $100-$400. Add in an electric guitar which is primarily defined by the quality of the amplifier, and your average cost can run into $1000 and above. For the regular Joe, these prices seem to make one’s purchase an investment. However, once you learn just how expensive the world’s most expensive guitars truly are, you’ll consider your purchase to be a cheap steal!

Here are the world’s top 5 most expensive guitars!

5) $847,500: Eric Clapton’s 1964 Gibson ES-335

Eric Clapton is one of the most revered musicians of this century. He also happens to be the only player in the history of the world to have been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame three times. Once, as an individual artist, once as a member of the Yardbirds and the third time around for being a member of Cream. He also ranked 2nd in the coveted Rolling Stone Magazine’s list of “100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time.” It comes as little to no surprise that the very same guitar Clapton played during his stint with the Yardbirds and Cream sold for a whopping $847,500 at Christie’s in 2004. The guitar also happened to be 40 years old at the point of sale!

4) $959,000: Eric Clapton’s Blackie Strat

With all the accomplishments under his belt, it’s befitting for two of Clapton’s guitars to belong on the world’s top 5 most expensive guitars list. Clapton’s Fender Stratocaster was lovingly called “Blackie” which led to it being sold as Blackie Strat. Influenced by Jimi Hendrix as well as his bandmember Steve Winwood from Blind Faith, Clapton decided to take the plunge from Gibson to Fender. He bought six Fender Stratocasters during the 1950’s and gave away three while dismantling the remaining three. The three scrapped guitars were redesigned to include the best components by the luthier Ted Jones to create the legendary Blackie Strat. Blackie stuck by Clapton’s side for numerous years before being sold for almost a million dollars in 2004 at Christie’s to support a drug and addiction rehabilitation center started by Clapton himself! As of 2004, the Blackie Strat was the most expensive guitar to be sold in the world.

3) $1,200,000: Bob Marley’s Washburn

Although the exact number is unknown but estimated to be around 7, Bob Marley owned an insufficient number of guitars. The custom-made Washburn 22 series hawk he purchased is said to be one of the first Washburn’s ever to be sold, and it was reportedly used by his guitar technician Gary Carlsen. Bob Marley’s reggae style of music inspired by his roots in Jamaica gained worldwide attention and till date, are considered classics. His Washburn is said to be a national treasure by the Jamaican government, and it’s no wonder that is valued at $1.2 million and is currently owned by the Jamaican Government which has placed it in a museum. 

2) $2,000,000: Jimi Hendrix’s Fender Strat

Combine one of the greatest musicians in the world with the most iconic music festival, and you’ve got yourself a best seller. Jimi Hendrix, the iconic guitarist, singer, and songwriter who was once called “arguably the greatest instrumentalist in the history of rock music” by The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame played his Fender Strat at Woodstock. His guitar was bought by none other than Paul Allen, the co-founder of Microsoft, for the fortune of 2 million dollars. Now, that’s saying something.

  • $2,700,000: Reach out to Asia Strat

The world’s most expensive guitar was one that not only made history but also changed lives. The horrific Tsunami of 2004 which originated in the Indian Ocean caused havoc in numerous South-Asian nations. Thousands of lives were lost, and millions were displaced as their homes were destroyed. To help those affected by the tragedy, a star-signed Fender Strat was auctioned off by Reach out to Asia – a charity formed to help the victims of the Tsunami. With stars such as Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Eric Clapton, Jimmy Page, Pete Townshend, Malcolm Young, Sting and other brilliant musicians that signed the guitar – the steep $2.7 million dollars that it was sold for seems fit for the cause

Interview: What Makes Gretchen Menn A Fantastic Guitarist

By Andrew Catania

What comes to your mind when you think of a guitarist? Or a pilot? Riddles and jokes abound that play with our expectations, and we are now living in a time where those gender biases and assumptions are becoming less and less relevant. But the popular perceptions have started to change, and it’s quite refreshing to see talented women musicians rocking the industry with competence and fervor.

Photo by Renee Jahnke

Gretchen Menn is one such name – talented, meticulous and high on life! Music is etched in her genes and flows within her veins. From the child who dabbled on whatever instruments her parents allowed her to rent, to the teenager who couldn’t keep her fingers off the fretboard, to a current student of orchestration and large-scale composition, Gretchen is always exploring new areas of music and expanding her skill set.

Photo by Renee Jahnke

Unlike many of her contemporaries. Gretchen Menn didn’t leave her education to pursue her musical passion. She rather made his studies be in furtherance of her artistic tendencies and completed a degree in music from Smith College. During her time there, she studied classical guitar, yet also convinced a very classically-focused department to allow her to do individual studies on the music of Frank Zappa.

After graduation, Gretchen decided to pursue a career in aviation to have a “responsible day job” to supplement the less-than-certain income in music. She enrolled in a flight school. Two years after starting her training, she had obtained some licenses, worked as a flight instructor, and was flying regional jets for an airline. After less than a year, Gretchen’s heart won over, and she oriented toward a more direct route to her musical dreams.

Although Gretchen was never away from her instrument while at the airlines—her guitar had gone with her on every trip—leaving the airline allowed her to make music the main priority. And she dove in. From progressive to jazz, and from rock to classical, multiple genres and a multitude of associations, versatility characterized her interests and studies.

Photo by Renee Jahnke

She has studied classical guitar with Phillip de Fremery, a student of Maestro Segovia. She has delivered Jimmy Page’s lines since the foundation of Zepparella, a noted tribute to Led Zeppelin. She has backed up singer/songwriters, slept on floors while touring with a metal band, was a primary creative force in various instrumental projects, and is producing original music of her own.

Gretchen Menn cites early and enduring inspiration from Steve Morse, Eric Johnson, Frank Zappa, Jeff Beck, and Django Reinhardt.

At present, Gretchen has just released her second album of original, instrumental music, Abandon All Hope, a concept album based on Dante’s Inferno. With accompanying imagery from Max Crace, libretto by Michael Molenda, and co-artistic production by Italian virtuoso guitarist and composer Daniele Gottardo, it is an album that has surprised audiences with its musical scope and compositional depth.

Your new album is out, do you have any plans of touring?

I’d like to. It is such an epically long and compositional record and would mean a larger budget than I’ve got right now to do it properly.  I’m not going to go out and play it with just backing tracks, as that would be encouraging people to hear it guitar-centrically, and it wasn’t intended to be that. I do have lots of shows coming up with Zepparella and a bunch of various other things here and there. I’m always writing new music, too.  Lots of juggling of different projects, but that’s just sort of how I roll.

Photo by Renee Jahnke

How long did it take you to write Abandon All Hope?

It took about four years. Right in the middle of that, I had some pretty intense personal stuff go on, so there was about a year or so where I wasn’t operating at full capacity. I started writing it in around December of 2011, and then it was three or four years of composing, and then a year or so of tracking, mixing, and all of that. So the whole process was about five years, almost to the date.

You’ve got 15 tracks on there.  Do you have any personal favorites or are all of them your favorite?

I could never pick a favorite.  All of them serve a different purpose.  It’s a concept album, so everything was geared to fit the need of the storyline.

I like your cover of Django Reinhardt’s “Minor Swing.” 

That was so much fun to learn.  Django is one of my all-time favorites, and the whole thing came about very organically. I just wanted to hear some of his lines. The more I learned, the more I wanted to learn. Then the Grappelli parts were too cool not to try as well. It was totally an afterthought to record it. I played the Django parts on my Stephen Strahm Eros acoustic, which is not a Gypsy Jazz guitar, but I love it so much. I put on nylon core strings, which gave it a little taste of the gypsy tone. Then I played the violin lines on my Ernie Ball Silhouette Special though my Two-Rock Bi-Onyx amp. Absolute heresy to purists, but I see no harm in honoring the music we love in our way.

That was a very very interesting cover. You’ve got such a virtual background of various types of music that you do which brings me to my next question.  Did you grow up playing classical guitar?

The classical guitar is where I started.  I had the important piano lessons when I was five or so, which meant virtually nothing other than I had seen music in front of me and some very, very basic training.  The most memorable part was after the piano lessons my mom would take my sister and me to 7 – Eleven and we’d get to pick a treat—memorable and delicious bribery. But my first voluntary instrument was the flute, which I played for about three years, starting at around age 10.

Photo by Renee Jahnke

What got you into playing guitar?

The music I was listening to, and I think that’s where the disconnect was with the flute.  Even though I liked playing it, the repertoire wasn’t what appealed deeply to a kid, at least not to me. I was a regular kid.  I wasn’t one to willingly forgo soccer or skateboarding or running around to sit inside practicing a bunch.  I enjoyed playing the flute to a point, and I liked my music lessons. But I’d pick it up when I felt like it and had zero discipline around it. I got into music at the age I think a lot of people do—around 12, 13, 14. I was listening to Led Zeppelin when I was around 14 or so, and by the time I was 15, I was listening to Django Reinhardt, The Dixie Dregs, Frank Zappa, Jeff Beck, Eric Johnson.  Not what was the current music of the day—but good stuff passed along by cool parents.

Did your dad have any influence on your music career?

It’s such a common assumption, and it makes tons of sense that people would naturally assume so. But my dad never pressured me to do anything. I didn’t even really know what he did until later. As a kid, you never sit down and grill your parents on the fine points of their jobs. You’re just like, “Okay, my dad’s a writer. Whatever, I’m going to go play now.” So I knew my dad was a writer, and I knew the stationery we had said GPI with a guitar logo, so I think if pressed I would have been able to tell you his writing had something to do with guitars.  But it wasn’t until I got into music on my own that dad was like, “Hey, I know something about this. If you’d like Led Zeppelin, check out Jeff Beck. If you think Steve Vai is the man, then also check out Steve Morse.” He was quick to be helpful once I got interested on my own. But he’s never urged me or directed me in any way. He just wanted me to figure out what it was I wanted in life and was ready to help cheer me on, whatever that was.

That’s Awesome!  Learning classical guitar, did that help you as playing rock music as a musician?

I think it’s a mixed bag because there are a lot of things that maybe do help—it’s good for left-hand finger independence and placement. A lot of electric guitar players will use their pinky like once a week. But I think probably more than anything else for me, studying classical guitar helped with learning how to work.  I’ve never been a patient person, and with the classical guitar, you don’t have the option of not being patient. You may be told to only work on four measures of music in a week, and to get those tests perfect.  So it helped develop an area of personal weakness—focus and patience.  On the other hand, there’s a lot that is very different between classical and electric. Initially, one of my biggest challenges was not to approach electric guitar with too much of a traditional attitude—to throw caution to the wind sometimes, rather than become rigid or stiff when attempting to nail something perfectly. Not that my classical teacher would have ever endorsed a stringent performance! But in playing Jimmy Page, being overly surgical is not the right approach.

Photo by Renee Jahnke

 

You’ve been a guitarist and an airline pilot which you know there’s not a lot it’s more like a male dominated areas and all that do you have to have a typical type of mindset to succeed in a male-dominated industry like those? 

You know, it’s so funny the gender question never even entered my mind until much more recently—and mostly because of how much I get asked about it. I’ve always had as many guy friends as girlfriends. I’ve approached things with the mindset that if I wanted to do something, I just tried or worked or studied hard until I could do it. Gender being a factor in the acquisition of ability never even occurred to me. Do people go around like all day long thinking about their sex?  I can only speak for myself, and I certainly don’t and never have. For me, the times it did enter my consciousness was in situations like realizing I was the only girl in my ground school class for airline training. But that didn’t make me uncomfortable beyond the fact that it made some of the guys uncomfortable. So I just tried to make it clear that it was all fresh and they didn’t have to be on eggshells around me. I’ve always been comfortable hanging with guys. I have wonderful male friends; I have wonderful female friends. I’ve got an amazing dad.  There are heroes and allies of either gender.

Is there something that as a musician most people wouldn’t know about you?

Yes, I’m trying to think of what that thing might be… I’m super boring (laughs). After shows, people are often like, “Hey are you going to party?”  “No, I’m going to go back to my hotel room and read a score or a book and go to sleep so I can practice tomorrow.”  So I think from the standpoint of people who might associate playing rock music as being a lot of fun at a party, I’m a big letdown. I am totally not a lot of fun at a party. I’m not at the party!

(laughter)

Wow! 

(laughter)

 Regarding your rig, tell me your rig set up

Okay, I’ve got a couple of different things going on for various projects.  My Zepparella rig is guided by Jimmy’s sounds and iconic guitars. I have two Gibson Les Pauls and a Danelectro. My pedal board has a Cry Baby Wah Wah, a Boss TU-2 tuner, a Providence Phase Force, an Xotic Effects AC Booster, and a Providence Chrono Delay.  My Les Pauls have DiMarzio 36th Anniversary pickups. The amp is a Two-Rock Bi-Onyx. I had used using an old 1977 Marshall JMP for a long time, which I still have, but then I fell in love with this Two-Rock.  They had lent it to me for the She Rocks Awards when I played in the house band for the event a couple of years ago. It just happened to look like it was made for me—it had this white Tolex, and Zepparella wears all white on stage. I plugged into it, and was like, “Oh My God!” They were kind enough to let me borrow it for quite awhile, and eventually, I coughed up some money so I could keep it forever. For all my projects I use Dunlop Jazz III picksDiMarzio cables, and Ernie Ball strings gauge 0.10 – 0.52.

Photo by Renee Jahnke

I was going to say your rigs must differ for your albums like Zepparella and then your latest stuff I would imagine

 Yes, exactly.  I mean the pedals are the same.  I don’t use a ton of pedals even though I’ve got more than I ever use. For my original music, I use almost exclusively Music Man Guitars regarding electrics—I have two Silhouette Specials, a Silhouette, and a Majesty.  My main Silhouette is the one that is white with a black pickguard, and it has stocks DiMarzio single coil pickups.  I love that guitar. It’s the guitar I play like 90% of the time… obviously except for with Zepparella.  For amps, I have a ’66 Fender Deluxe Reverb that sounds amazing. It is what I used for “Limbo” on the new album, Abandon All Hope.  My Engl SE 670EL34 was used for virtually all of the electric stuff on the album.  What I do to save money, which is imperative on an album of this scope, is I do my guitar tracking at home and reamp it in the studio. I have my Engl in my garage all mic’d up, and then I run a direct line, so I’m getting both a take with a tone that’s going to be pretty similar to the final sound as well as a clean, direct signal. Then I can go into a pro studio and bring all my amps—the Engl, the Marshall, the Two-Rock, the Fender—and I run that right signal through each of the different amps and audition tones. I can hear objectively which one is giving the best sound for the mix—blending properly or cutting through or whatever is the goal.  I ended up using the Engl for almost everything on Abandon All Hope, as it just fit what I was going for. I used my Kenny Hill Ruck classical guitar on “Hellward Swoon,” “Lake of Ice,” and “Grace.”

Do any of these products endorse you?

Yes—Ernie Ball/Music Man, Two-Rock, Engl, Providence, Dunlop, DiMarzio, Stephen Strahm. I only work with a company if I love what they’re doing, and if what they’re doing fits me. I don’t like having a lot of stuff.  I’m not at all a gear collector, so if I’m using something, it’s because I genuinely love it. I’d rather invest time in improving my abilities. At this point, if I can’t get my rig to sound good, it’s not my gear’s fault!

Photo by Renee Jahnke

 

What are your plans for 2017?

Ah, that’s a good question! Zepparella has a bunch of stuff on the books.  I’ve got some things that are coming up that I’m going to be releasing soon regarding some other videos and stuff that has to do with Abandon All Hope.

You can follow Gretchen Menn @ http://www.gretchenmenn.com 

and http://www.zepparella.com/

Special thanks to Renee Jahnke for the fantastic photos!

What’s Your Choice of Guitar Strings?

By Andrew Catania

There are more independent guitar makers than ever before, it appears, by all accounts making fantastic sounding and looking instruments. 

Now these fine instruments have to be superior in every sense of anything that rolls out of a factory,.  A guitar, whose words have been carefully selected and assembled with all the love and care of a master craftsman has to be intrinsically more musical and more valuable than any “production-line” guitar. 

There are many guitar string manufacturers today, makes and brands around the world, but here’s an overview of some of the most popular:

D’Addario

“The Players Choice”

Both electric and acoustic guitar strings are supplied in sets packaged within a single ‘corrosion intercept’ environmentally-friendly package. Individual strings are identified by the color of the ball-end, and a key to colors is supplied on the packaging.

Dean Markley

“Every product the very best in its field.

With their headquarters in California and with their own manufacturing facility in Kalamazoo, Michigan, Dean Markley Strings – or DMS for short – manufacture a wide range of popular electric and acoustic guitar strings that are used and endorsed by a wide range of artists, the most famous of which are the incredible guitarist Yngwie Malmsteen and more recently John5.

Acoustic strings include Alchemy, Vintage, and Blue Steel ranges, whereas electric strings include endorsed versions named after Yngwie Malmsteen, Jimi Hendrix and Floyd Rose among others. Floyd Rose “speedloader” strings are specially designed to be used with the incredible Speedloader Tremolo Bridge that enables you to change your strings and have them in tune in under a minute!

DR Handmade Strings

“Born in NYC, wound up in New Jersey.

Founded by Mark Dronge, son of the Guild Guitars founder, DR Handmade Strings make a diverse range of acoustic, electric and bass guitar strings which, not unsurprisingly, the test on Guild guitars! DR believe in combining old-fashioned craftsmanship with modern materials to create strings that give the feel and tone that players want. Endorsing Artists include U2’s, Adam Clayton. Voted Number One in Bass Player magazine’s 2008 Reader’s Choice Awards.

Dunlop

Heavy Metal Favourites

Dunlop electric guitar strings are made in California by Jim Dunlop, famous for the Cry Baby Wah-Wah pedal amongst other things. Bright, well balanced and punchy, these guitar strings are designed for extremely long life and provide low tension with minimum break-in time. Popular with heavy metal artists like Zakk Wylde.

Elixir

Hi-tech coated strings

In 1995 Elixir started experimenting with coating strings with PTFE. After much trial and error and analysis, prototypes were tried by over 5,000 guitarists and other musicians before Elixir final released their masterpieces. Today their NANOWEB and POLYWEB coated strings are used by guitar players worldwide. Not cheap to buy, but claimed to last 3-5 times longer than ‘regular’ strings!

Ernie Ball

Probably the most famous brand of all.

Ernie Ball invented the trade Mary ‘Slinks’ range of guitar strings back in the 1950s and built a worldwide brand known for it’s a wide choice of ‘custom’ gauge sets. The regular choice of millions of guitarists worldwide.

Fender

Iconic maker of the Tele and Strat.

Fender invented an alternative to the ball end – the bullet end , especially for Fender guitars.

La Bella

America’s largest string maker.

E. & O. Mari, Inc., the maker of La Bella Strings, is one of America’s oldest and largest manufacturers of fine strings for virtually every kind of stringed instrument including guitars. La Bella is one of the only companies in the world still making traditional, real gut strings for antique and Baroque guitars. Other materials used include three different types of nylon, Kevlar, copper, brass, bronze, silver, aluminum, in addition to numerous types of steel. Each string is created using a combination of tradition and technology. Sophisticated, computer controlled and automated string-winding machinery is used where applicable, but hand-winding is still used where it delivers the best results.

Martin Guitar Strings

Acoustic favorites.

A wide range of Bronze, Phosphor Bronze and Coated strings in every conceivable gauge and type. CF Martin & Co are well known as makers of top quality acoustic guitars, and their strings are made to the same high standard. Core and wrap wires must meet strict requirements to make the grade, and Martin Strings are wound to precise specifications.

Optima Guitar Strings

Gold plated magic beloved of Brian May and others.

Quirky, elusive, sometimes hard to find, but some top guitarists will use nothing else, but German made Optima strings. Previously known as Maxima strings, they are best known for their goldplated electric strings used by Brian May, James Dean Bradfield and others.

Rotosound

As British as the Beatles

Famous for ROTO Color strings (ROTO Pinks, ROTO Yellows, etc.) developed in conjunction with some of the world’s top artists, these unique sets deliver a smooth, powerful tone that lasts while other strings have long gone dead.

Sforza

Superior strings for superior guitarists.

Based in Santa Rosa, California, the Sforza String Company produce a range of strings including Nickel/Iron SFT Screamers; Signature Series Studio sets, Super Screamers (for a classic Rock ‘n’ Roll sound) and more.

Their following is growing, especially in the Heavy Rock and Metal genre where they are renown for long-lasting strings that hold their tuning well

Does the Price of an Electric Guitar Affect the Quality and Craftsmanship?

By Andrew Catania

Choosing the best guitar can be a daunting task. Some people believe that price is a determinant of quality of an electric guitar. But are the most expensive guitars always the best? What should one consider when buying an electric guitar based on its price?

For most products, the difference in quality is noted by the difference in price. Electric guitars are no different. American guitars are more expensive than guitars from countries like China and Indonesia. Expensive electric guitars play and sound better compared to the cheap ones.

Expensive electric guitars are made of quality materials like wood among others. The level of craftsmanship is also high. A combination of these factors makes them noticeably great. This may enable you to do things you would never have done.

Most of the expensive guitars have the note-to-note uniformity. This may be due to their stiffer neck materials, quality wood, and good finish among others. This makes the process of recording a song not only easier but also more evenly. This uniformity is rare to find in cheap guitars.

Expensive guitars are made of high-quality products meaning there is no need to replace the electrics, the necks, among others. If you want to be a better player, choose the best instrument. Expensive guitars give good sound and play.

To make good guitars, it requires great craftsmanship which costs money. It is easier to find great expensive guitars than it is to find great cheap guitars. If you want a guitar that meets your needs quickly, go for expensive guitars.

The process of making quality guitars is expensive. The materials, the tools, and the labor force used are also expensive. This means expensive guitars are of higher quality compared to cheap guitars.

Expensive electric guitars are a good investment. They don’t lose their value over time. This is mainly due to their quality. They will give quality service for a longer time than cheaper counterparts.

However, the price of an electric guitar does not necessary reflect its quality. A cheap guitar means an affordable guitar. It does not mean the use of substandard material or low quality. Some cheap guitars are as competitive in service as the expensive counterparts.

Many people relate price to quality. However, when playing electric guitars, the skill is the most important input. A good player will know how to mix his music with the guitar’s effects. That is why some cheap guitars from China, South Korea, and Indonesia are giving the American brands a strong competition.

When choosing the guitar to buy or use, the most important factor to consider is how it sounds for that specific song. You should consider whether it fits the needs of that song at that time. As a result, you may find the cheaper guitar meeting your needs at that time.

Cheap guitars use cheap materials. They also use cheap paints and finishes among others. However, the guitar industry is now more mechanized allowing production of high-quality guitars at low prices. For most companies, several people are involved before the release of the guitar to the market.

Therefore, when buying a guitar, the price may not be the best indicator of quality. Consider the various components such as the body and neck, the hardware among others. Play different guitars to know how they sound and feel in your hands.

Interview: Gus G talks Firewind Ozzy Osbourne Future Solo Record

By Andrew Catania

Konstantinos Karamitroudis, aka Gus G., is a young name in the heavy metal genre and has managed to bag many awards and achievements in the rather short course of his professional music career.

Born on 12th September 1980 in Thessaloniki, Greece, Gus G. grew up learning music at home. His father’s love for rock introduced him to the acclaimed bands like The Eagles, Pink Floyd, and Santana in his early childhood years. His father, who used to play and sing traditional Greek melodies at the local taverns and bars, wanted to deliver his own passion to his child. His favorite childhood hobby was to listen to his father’s recorded versions of Peter Frampton’s album titled Frampton Comes Alive! Elated by his son’s natural philia towards music, his father presented him with his first guitar, a basic classic piece, on his 10th birthday.

Partly because of his father’s wish and primarily because of his natural talent that seems to have genetically transmitted to him from his father, he opted to learn music at a very young age. He was enrolled at a local music school where his natural playing skills were nurtured and groomed. After having learned the elementary techniques, he switched over to his first electric guitar by the time he turned 14. He joined a local music conservatory and under the mentorship of a rock guitar instructor, he decided to test his fate in the rock and heavy metal genre.

1998 turned out to be a turning point in his life. He got himself enrolled at the Berklee College of Music and decided to focus on building his professional profile. His debut project was a joint feat with his musician friends and was titled as Firewind.

The demo bagged significant attention from prominent record label agencies as well as a couple of growing metal bands such as Mystic Prophecy, Dream Evil, and Night Rage. Gus played a leading role in the debut albums of all 3 bands. The success of those albums might be debatable, but Gus’ talent was too audacious to be ignored. His playing technique received due praise from the critics as well as the audience. This compelled him to focus on his solo career and his own band. Firewind has released 7 studio records from 1998 till date.

Aside from his solo ventures, Gus has teamed up with notable bands and acclaimed musicians for guest appearances, including Nightrage, In This Moment, and the Greek rock band named West Neighborhoods. His natural playing brilliance helped him make a mark in all of his solo, guest, and joint feats and eventually landed him on Ozzy Osbourne’s (The Unrivaled Godfather of Heavy Metal) list of prospected candidates to play as the lead guitarist in his next big album release. Gus was initially invited by Ozzy to learn with him and play for a few minor albums. His talent endorsed him as a wise decision on Ozzy’s part and he was officially offered a role to play in place of Zakk Wylde.

Aside from his associations with the Arch Enemy, Kamelot, Nightrage, Angel Vivaldi, Mystic Prophecy and making numerous guest appearances and solos, Gus mentions that playing for Ozzy was an experience of a lifetime, and the honor itself outweighs all other accolades and awards he has accomplished to date.

Gus’s recent releases include Brand New Revolution and a couple of guest appearances for Attitude and Attitude. Gus has been ranked at 3rd position among the top 3 guitarists in the world by Japanese magazine BURRN! in 2003.

We recently had a chance to interview Gus where he shared his personal insight on his career so far and where he aspires to land in the future. Read on to find what he has to say.

 

Hey, Gus!  Welcome to All That Shreds.  I had the pleasure of seeing you with Angel Vivaldi recently.

Yes! That was a cool show that night I remember

It was a very cool show.  I was wondering where you were going to put all your gear.  I was just like, wow!

(laughter)

Everything fit alright in the end.  It was a cool stage I thought

Yes! It’s a very cool setup there.  That is where a lot of the hard rock metal bands go

Yes,  they told me that.  It was cool

How are you liking AFM Records?

We just started working together and they have their rights to a new album for North America and Century Media is handling the rest of the world.  So I’m curious to see what they do in North America.  The last album I put out on my own label basically

 
Has it been five years now since Firewind came out with the last album?  Anything particular change in recording on this one versus your old one?

Yes.  The last one we did everything in a studio altogether.  We used a couple of different studios we did the drums in Belgium and then everybody did their stuff in their home studios.  Like I have my own set-up here so I did guitar and bass with Petros and Henning he went with the producer studio in Germany and they did the vocals thereI like the album.  It sounds really good.  It’s got your DNA all over it.  I can hear your playing from miles away.  It’s a Firewind album.  I associate you with Firewood.  Whenever you’re doing a solo record, Firewind is you  Yes, Yes! Thanks, man, thanks!!No problem.  Do you have plans of touring Europe?

Yes, it starts in February in the UK and Europe and then I do a little bit of a solo thing in Asia.  I have three shows in Japan and Korea and then we would get back with the guy’s and we would do a bunch of festivals in the summer

OK.  Any plans on bringing Firewind to the states?

I don’t know.  I think a lot depends on how the album is doing over there.  We have not discussed any packages or anything like that or touring plans for the states.  We’ll see! We’re not negative about it, we’d like to come back.  Hopefully,  if we have the right feedback from fans and the right support and it’s the right package, yes we would definitely like to come back

That would be fantastic to see you guy’s back here.  You’re with Jackson Guitar now, that is kind of surprising

Yes!  I went with them I think it was in May or June

I know the other company you do not really discuss much of it.  But the other company I think you were with for 12 years

I was with them for 12 years.  Sometimes you’ve just got to change it up.  I’ve been playing Japanese guitars for a long time and then I fancy playing American guitars and then trying it out.  Jackson was very enthusiastic and they have a good theme.  Not only enthusiastic about the marketing scheme and all that, their team on how they build guitars have good ideas and are not afraid to try them out so to speak and I like that attitude.

So do you feel more at home now with Jackson versus your predecessor?  

You know I’ve had a really good run with ESP I can’t complain.  They gave me my first signature guitars and stuff and we did well.  Now with Jackson, it feels like the right team to be a part of.  Those guys are fans of what I do.  They’ve actually been bugging me for a few years now. It’s like hey man if you ever feel like trying something else out, we’re here.  I met up with them and I went to their factory.  You know they are owned by Fender so  I went to the Fender factory which is pretty amazing.  The whole vibe there was very cool and everybody was really on it.  You know the guy who builds my guitar is Mike Shannon who built Randy Rhoads Jackson guitars and it’s very cool.

It’s quite an honor isn’t it?

Absolutely! Yes

Jackson is part of Fender.  They make a good product there.  Are you still touring around with your 200-watt cabs?

Yes! That is my set-up live.  That is what I had in Orlando

fw_i_p01_small1

It was freaking loud!

Yes!  It’s a 200-watt head.  The cabs that I use, those Blackstar cabs they are bigger than the normal Marshall cabs.  They are kind of I don’t know, they’re are designed to be played loud I guess.  It’s cool

Gus tell me how did you start playing guitar?  Was it as a kid?

Yes.  I started playing when I was 9 because my dad had this record at home he kept playing, Frampton Comes Alive, by Peter Frampton.  I just loved the way he did the Talkbox and I thought it was like a robot effect or something.  I didn’t think it was a guitar at the time.  Yes, that is how I was interested in picking up a guitar

Interesting.  Do you remember your first guitar?

The first guitar that my dad got me was a classical guitar.  For the first four years,  I was kind of stuck with that classical guitar and I was going to some local music school basically learning a few chords and stuff nothing really too exciting but when I was fourteen he saved up and got me my first electric guitar, which I still have.  It is a Fender Stratocaster.  It was one of those models and the first attempt that Fender made to try to be a bit more metal.  It was like a Floyd with Rosewood and a humbucker


How did you get into your first band?

I was playing covers when I was 16 around town just classic rock stuff.  I played for a couple years before I went to America after high school.  I went to Berklee College of Music for a while and dropped out of that and did some recordings with some classmates from Berklee and that was basically the beginning of Firewind as a project, as an idea.

And that was back in ’98?

Yes,  ’98.

Ok,  so you were trying to shop at labels to get your project Firewind acknowledged?

Yes.  Just trying to see if there was any interest out there at the time and there was no interest.

(laughter)

Ok.  So Firewind got signed?

Yes, I was still young and my ideas were not developed soI was doing all these 4-track recordings and I would send them to this label in Atlanta, Leviathan Records,  and the owner was David Chastain.  He would write me back letter’s or e-mails and said yes he would encourage me to keep working at it and eventually he offered me the first contract and that is how we signed with Leviathan.

Wow! That is awesome.  With Firewind do you do most of the writing or is it split up amongst the team?

It depends on every album.  Sometimes it used to be me and Bob, Apollo, our previous singer.  In the very early album,  it was just me and the other singer we had back then.  On this record,  it changed up again.   I did all the music and co-wrote it with Dennis Ward who co-produced the album with me.  So he and I basically co-wrote and co-produced the whole thing

Very good.  Tell me how you got the Ozzy Osbourne gig

I got an e-mail from his management in 2009 asking me if I would be interested in auditioning.  I was like yes, of course!  I learned a bunch of songs and a couple weeks later they flew me out to LA and I did the audition.  It went really good and they asked me if I wanted to come back and play a show with him and that was it.  In August 2009 we did the first show which was like a televised appearance or something.  It was a show in Anaheim and that was a warm-up thing.  Then I went back home and two weeks later they asked me to come back and play another show with him, The Sunset Strip Festival and the next thing you know I was hanging out at his house the next day and he played me the record he was working on and I ended up staying for a few days recording some guitars and the next thing you know I am working fully on the next album and everything took off from there

I’m sure it had to be pretty exciting touring the world with Ozzy and playing in stadiums and festivals

Oh yes, of course, man, it’s amazing!  These are things very few musician’s get to do and it definitely is mind-blowing

Is there any word from his camp that you guys are going to be going back into the studio?

No,  I have not heard anything.  I know he has been hinting at press a little bit the past few months but I really don’t know.  Yes there is apparently a plan for another album but it’s probably not set in stone right now, still busy with that Sabbath final tour

fw_i_single_p01_by_firenesia1

Yes, he’s still doing that until February

Yes apparently and maybe there is going to be some more gigs they said or festivals or something like that.  Didn’t Naomi say that or something?

They did say that yes.  It’s supposed to be in February I guess I saw one report where he was writing with Steve Stevens which scratched my head because that makes absolutely no sense

Yes.  That’s not new.  Those demos, those are from last year.  He was telling me about it.  I really don’t know.  There’s nothing really official I know he is busy doing this other thing right now.

That’s good.  Who are your endorsements?  Obviously,  we know Blackstar and Jackson.  What else are you endorsing?  Are you endorsed by a pick company or pedals?

A lot of people! A lot of good people actually.  Seymour Duncan for pickups, I’ve got my own pickups through them.  DR Strings.  Morley pedals and Boss Units, Line 6 for my wireless units.  Red Monkey makes my guitar straps and some of the accessories like the cuffs that I’m wearing, wristbands

I know you came to America from Greece but did you find it hard to be noticed?

You mean back then when I was 18?  It was a tough time for heavy metal in America back then.  Like in the late ’90’s it was about wrap metal and new metal was emerging and all that stuff.  The traditional stuff was nowhere.  I was a bit discouraged back then.  I ended up going back home a year later and I ended up living in Sweden for a while and that’s when I got started with Dream Evil

Oh wow ok! That I did not know.  In 2017 Firewind is going to be your top priority until the Oz-man comes calling?  How is that going to work out for you?

Yes, obviously we have a new album so to promote it we have the tour, we have a lot of festivals that we’re going to be doing and just keep doing that and in between that keep writing my next solo record.  I have some sporadic solo gigs here and there and we’ll see what happens after that.  If we get to work with Ozzy then that’s what’s coming up next and if that doesn’t happen then I’m going back into a solo record I guess

Your last solo record is awesome.

Thanks!!

 

How does it feel to have your name thrown in with some of the heavy-weight guitarists like Steve Vai and all them?  Because your name is in the mix there with them

It is a big compliment of course!  I am nowhere near as good or as big as those guys but some of those guys are my heroes.  I grew up their posters on my wall and listening to the records and stealing their licks.  Anytime you get to do a show with those guys, open with them or jam with them or with any of those guys it’s a big moment for me

 

Good luck on the album.  I look forward to the next one.  If the Oz-man comes calling, I will see you on the next tour!

Firewind’s new record will be released on January 20, 2017.

You can follow Firewind @ http://www.firewind.gr/2013/home.html

You can follow Gus G @ http://www.gusgofficial.com/home.html

Is Eddie Van Halen The Greatest Rock Guitarist Since Hendrix?

By Andrew Catania

The history of heavy metal rock will forever be highlighted by a select few who managed to achieve far greater heights than their contemporaries. Jimi Hendrix being one, with the sheer brilliance and expertise par excellence, had no boundaries or restrictions to limit his potential and the magic he was capable of with the guitar.

With no rules to abide by and no sequences to follow – he was unstoppable, with an unwavering courage to explore and carve musical planes that have never been heard of before. Jimi Hendrix made it totally worth it, to be considered as the undisputed God of the heavy metal genre and escalated legendary milestones to a whole new height, making it even more challenging for his successors to touch that level of greatness.

It is quite refreshing to note that the post-Hendrix era is populated with a number of names that took it upon them to take forward the ‘Hendrix legacy’ and took pride in following the path laid by the eternal maestro of the heavy metal world. Eddie Van Halen, for instance, is one of those few names who made their own signature mark on the music scene of the 1970s and 1980s.

The mastery he had held over his personalized six-stringed instruments ensured that it was him that controlled how his guitar would work and what he squeezed out of the chords, not the other way round. So, it all makes perfect sense if we say that the musical planes and the untapped realms that he ventured into was not a coincidence, rather his own brilliance, forte and excellence.

An analysis of his notes and techniques is a strong validation of his great and intricate attention to details. Fast, furious and with an extreme audacity to make your ear drums experience new heights of musical ecstasy, Eddie Van Halen himself compares his playing style to a racing car, going down the  road, blitzing though everything that comes in between.

Just like Hendrix – the rock maestro, Van Halen too had little to stop him when it came to playing the whammy bars and gave a whole new meaning to the heavy metal rock through ‘Panama’, ‘Eruption’ and ‘Hot for Teacher’. His notes made a profound impact that was anything but distortion. Perfectly planned, and intricately carved, every single fluctuation and nuance still makes an impression as if a farfetched fantasy is coming to life.

His musical virtuoso is a depiction of his uniqueness, and entails his signature master moves, as in, the dive bombs, fun licks, finger tapping and pinching on the natural harmonics. He was not just a pioneer or inventor of a new style; he made them popular and inspired many young artists and musicians that took pride in following his lead. The way he used effects pedals, hot-rodded amps and tricking out guitars, it escalated the set bars and ensured that hard rock still had a lot in it to be explored.

It was all worth it, for apart from countless other awards and accolades, including the Grammy Award for ‘For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge’ (1992), American Music Award for ‘For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge’ (1991), MTV Music Awards for ‘Jump’ (1984), ‘Finish What Ya Started’ (1989), and two awards for ‘Right Now’ in 1992, Eddie Van Haken was declared as the ‘Greatest Guitarist of all Times’ in a poll conducted by Guitar World Magazine.

More than the awards and accolades that mark his musical career, it is his inclination to develop his signatures taps, his understanding of the strings and chords and the perfect chemistry between his  finger tips and his instruments, that enabled him to produce not just a piece of music but a real treat to cherish for a lifetime. It is his successful attempts at turning the impossible into possible with a mere finger tap that justifies that if anyone could be rendered as a successor to the ’Hendrix legacy, Eddie Van Halen almost makes it to that honor.

Doug Marks – The Metal Method and his Legacy

By Andrew Catania

Doug Marks, a prominent figure in the contemporary rock and metal guitar community thanks to his more than 30 years of experience as a guitar teacher. He developed what would be known as one of the most popular guitar methods of the world: The Metal Method. Doug’s early days as a teacher started doing private guitar lessons in Denver, Colorado as a way to help other fellow guitar players to develop their potential; he also learned from his students’ questions: when he didn’t know about something, he did the necessary research to find the answer, making him grow as a musician and teacher. When he later moved to Los Angeles, his students were interested in keeping in touch with him. They thought that Doug’s method of instruction was excellent, so he was encouraged by his pupils to find a way to give long distance guitar instruction.

By 1982 he was pursuing a career as a heavy metal musician with his band, named Hawk. Doug had the opportunity to work this project with many great musicians that were not so known at the time: Charlie Morrill (ex-Black Night), Teddy Days (ex Hellion), Scott Travis (Judas Priest, Racer X, Thin Lizzy), David Fefolt (Forgotten Realm, Valhalla) and  Matt Sorum (Guns N’ Roses, Velvet Revolver). Doug managed to release the first Hawk studio release independently in 1986 as his personal project, a solid ten track album with Marks taking the leading guitar role, demonstrating a clean, bright and virtuosic heavy metal sound that was going to support his reputation as a metal guitar teacher.

The Metal Method

To keep in touch with his former students from Denver, and to make his method available to a larger audience, Doug Marks started to develop what was going to be known as The Metal Method. Metal Method Guitar Lessons has founded in 1982 thanks to his students’ questions; this was the way in which the method was shaped from the very beginning, and it owes his success and popularity to the fact that, to this day, Metal Method answers your needs as a guitar player.

The method consisted of a mail-order business in which Doug made his lessons available through audio cassettes and video tapes, where he explained the foundations of guitar playing, from the very beginning, under the assumption that you never picked up a guitar before. This was going to be known as the Basic Course in 1982, and it was the genesis of all. Doug takes you step by step into the paths of heavy metal technique and musical theory in a moderately increasing difficulty that is reasonable regardless of your playing level, avoiding you the pain of getting frustrated with impossible goals and overwhelming information.

The examples are played at different speeds, so you can easily keep up with the music, allowing you to analyze and practice each lesson in a way that you can get the most out of it, without being overwhelmed trying to play them at full speed right away. One of the most successful factors of this course was the fact that you can feel how Doug Marks is talking to you, not to a microphone or recording equipment, but to you as a student, as someone who’s eager to improve! That’s something that was not being offered in the market back in the day: a personal relationship between tutor and student, which is something the Metal Method offers.

The method was successful right from the beginning thanks to the philosophy of great guitar lessons at a lower price, with a high volume of sales. It was expanded into many editions that focused on specific areas of the guitar technique: Speed and Accuracy for Lead Guitar, Easy Guitar Modes, Guitar Mastery Package, Classic Guitar Licks and many others made in collaboration with guitar legends like Michael Angelo Batio: Speed Kills 1 and 2, Star Licks Master Series videos are an example. The Method has grown into a thriving business with plenty of information for all guitar players out there. In Doug’s website, he interacts with the people, answering their doubts and hanging around with them, showing how down-to-earth he is, and proving that he cares about the students and their learning process.

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The Metal Method Legacy

It is amazing how the Doug Marks legacy is evident to this day. Worldwide known guitar masters such as Rusty Cooley or Myles Kennedy have said how important the Metal Method was to them! Doug is right when he states the following on his website: “We’ve been in business since 1982 for one reason – our program works!” The basic course is still going now in his 2016 revision! In the field of guitar lessons, we are always searching for the perfect answer to questions like “how can I play faster?” “How can I approach lead guitar?” “What is the musical theory I should know to play what I like?” and the Metal Method is positively answering these questions to all of us!

The influence of the Method has been around for 34 years already, helping many guitar players out there to achieve the desired improvement in their guitar playing technique. And don’t let the word “metal” fool you: if you are into any other genre like blues, country, jazz, rock, and roll…you will get plenty of advice and useful information from the Method, because of all the resources it has to give to any aspiring artist.

 

Interview with Geoff Thorpe from Vicious Rumors

By Andrew Catania

Vicious Rumors came out at the same time as Metallica, Megadeth, Slayer, and Exodus.  Vicious Rumors are known for killer guitar riffs and head banging music.  It’s been 37 years since Geoff Thorpe formed his iconic brand.  I recently caught up with Geoff to discuss Concussion Protocol and other happenings of Vicious Rumors.

Man last time I saw you were in Windsor, Connecticut at a dive bar in 1990.  I was disc jockeying at a college radio station in Hartford, Connecticut.  McGee was with you guys, and all of us got on your tour bus and went to see Total Recall.

Yeah Man! Well, when you mentioned that about going to the movies in the tour bus, you know, I remember that because we’ve never done that before, just taking a bunch of fans, jumped on our bus and went and did something on our off day, so yes, I completely remembered it.  Also, it was hilarious; you were like how did you remember that? My God!

I know 26 years, like five albums for you guys.

Yeah, Incredible man!

Are you touring in Europe?
Yes! We’re not on tour right now, but we’re doing a big tour with Dirkschneider.

Yes, I saw that! Is he done with Accept?

Yes, he is doing a tribute to Accept where I think he just sees how popular Accept is and so he’s cashing in on it and it’s working.  When he does the Dirkschneider thing, he plays to packed houses, and so it’s a big tour for us. We’re kind of excited about it.

Good! That will lead me to my first question for you. You guys are trendy in Europe.  You guys are playing festivals 40,000, 50,000, 60,000 people and your counterparts, I mean everybody Slayer, Megadeth, Metallica, everybody goes over there, seems like they’re making more money than they are in the States.  Do you think the market is pretty much dried up here in the states for metal?  Could you come back and play a thousand seat clubs? Then you guys go over for the Wacken Festival or whichever festival you guys are at —

Well you know, I don’t think that it’s ‘dried up’ but there’s just, I say the difference between the European audience and the American audience is that you know trends come and go and the European audience tends to, they might embrace something new but just because they embrace something new they don’t reject stuff that they liked before, and I think that the American audience like fads come and things change, and then all of a sudden people might think like, I mean I’m not like you know I’m just thinking out loud what is the possible reason for that? I just feel that European audiences are more open to still loving what they used to love and then embracing new bands that were sometimes American audiences tend to go with new fads and just move on from what they used to do to something new.  I don’t know man, you know the bottom line is there are great metal fans all around the world but there’s definitely something special that goes on here in Europe, and we were lucky enough to start in the 80’s and we were embraced here by the fans here and so you know we just went where the opportunities were, and we’re just really thankful that we have this incredible European fan base here and I always love being in Europe.  I love the people.  I love the way that they can get together in large numbers and they know how to behave you know.  People aren’t getting robbed or beat up or vandalized.  You know they get together, somebody falls, and someone gets picked up. You understand me?  They don’t get trampled on.  So it’s just a different vibe out here man, and it’s very cool especially for us, we’ve just been fortunate to have this incredible fan base that’s been with us from the very beginning and here we are on our twelfth studio album 37 years later it’s all going strong so it’s just – you know we’re humbled by it and at the same time we just want to give the fans the best possible metal experience we can deliver, night after night.  We just want it to be a metal party that you can remember for all time and that way if we just give our best every time, you seem to be invited back.

Going back to Soldiers of the Night which is still considered a Metal classic is going up with the Carl Albert Fronted band 1988-95 RIP Carl –When you’re doing pre-production for your records, and all are you primarily the one doing the writing of the music and the lyrics, is it a band effort?  Because I know Vicious Rumors is, you see, you found it, how do you dispense what the duties are?

You know I am the primary writer, and if the guys don’t do exactly what I tell them, they need to get the fuck out and if we don’t do it my way we don’t do it anyway but really, I’m easy to work with. I’m just kidding bro!

I was going to be like; you sound like Mr. Malmsteen!

No shit huh! That was insane; it felt excellent to say that though.  No, I’m just playing with you man.  I lead the direction, and I write most of the music.  I do write a lot of lyrics and melodies, and I always have.  When we had Carl, we worked together in that way too. Vicious Rumors has always been a team, and we work together much like a sports team.  I’m the leader of the team, maybe I’m the driving force, but I like to surround myself with really talented creative people, and right now we have a unique combination.  I never intended to have this  worldwide line up this international lineup with guys in Europe and guys from California it comes down to chemistry, the most important part of having a band is the chemistry within the group, and that’s what made bands like Led Zeppelin and Deep Purple and Metallica  they have chemistry together and when you find that kind of chemistry,  luckily we live in a day and age we’re just a  flight away and with the internet it’s possible to have these guys half way across the world and we can still do it and like I said, I never intended to do it but when we got together and when I found Nick and found Tilen they just brought so much to the table in every way they’re super creative;  talented, they got a lot of  great ideas. So to me, chemistry is number one, and if you have that, then the rest will follow. So yes, I do a lot of the writing but we work together as a team, and I’m entirely open to all the guys’ great ideas.  We don’t always use them because I do so much of the writing, but they help me shape it.  The one thing that we’ve had with all the different lineups is my songwriting, and that is sort of like the thread from the beginning to now that’s kept up Vicious Rumors, so I don’t want to lose that but at the same time, I really value the talented guys that I work with.

When did Nick come along?  Was he on the last album or come on the tour?

Well what happened was we had a big US tour in 2013 and then Brian Allen was becoming more and more unavailable you know understandably, he’s got, three kids, he’s a single dad with 3 children, so you know that’s a huge responsibility and so he started looking at, he just became unavailable and the problem was when he decided that he was not going to be available it was four weeks before a giant tour that I had already spent four months working on and so I was just lucky that I found Nick off a recommendation of a good friend of mine in The Netherlands from my brother Jake’s band in The Netherlands he recommended Nick to me and we had just gotten Tilen in the group, and I was just lucky to find him in time, and he came in we did the US tour together and he did the last live album  Live You To Death 2: American Punishment and he had only just joined the band and just crammed in to learn like 20 songs and did a fantastic job and now we’ve had three years of chemistry behind us so if you listen to the last live album and the way he sounds on the new album you can just actually hear in percussion protocol the growth that’s taken place and the way his voice has evolved, you know he can sing
high and clean all day long but we worked on his lower range and bringing out more of a full-voiced thing with his classic high decent thing and really you know he just has the ability and the range to do all the styles of Vicious Rumors music you know.  I think you being someone who really knows Vicious Rumors from the beginning to now know we are aware that we don’t just have one style or one sound we have a lot of different aspects to our music from speed metal to ballads to slow quenched stuff and we need a singer that can sing low and cumbersome, high and clean, dark and moody and also melodic, so it’s  a real tall order to be the singer in Vicious Rumors and Nick’s just done a great job in the band the last few years and a fantastic job on the new record.

Yeah, it’s an excellent record.  I reviewed it for another website that is not mine. I think you guys liked it on Twitter and followed me back as a matter of fact. For Concussion Protocol did you do anything differently in production for the preparation of recording the other albums? 

We did, it was the most I mean months of great lots of hard work man.  I started by just writing riffs on my little digital recorder. Once I had put together the body of twelve songs we actually got together and rented a house in The Netherlands and spent like three weeks together you know finalizing the ideas and taking suggestions for the guy’s and really just working together to try to make the album the best it could be and luckily we had the three years experience together and all the touring we did. Since Nick and Tilen have been in the band we’ve done a major US tour a South American tour, two European tours we had built the chemistry already which was really helpful, we were all really comfortable with each other when we started writing this album and after I kind of assembled most of the songs you know we rented that house in The Netherlands and put the final touches on it.  Once I really felt like the album taking shape I really felt like wow this is going to be probably our heaviest album and one of our most powerful driving records that we’ve ever done, and so I really felt at that point like man I need lyrics, I need a cover, I need a concept to be to be just as heavy and after the guys had gone home I stayed in Europe for like three weeks, just with a notebook and a pencil and my pads and paper and I just wrote lyrics and started coming up with this crazy doomsday story with the asteroid taking out the world and I was just thinking when we went digital dictator we were at the beginning of the digital age, and I was thinking where are we now?  Well, unfortunately, we’re in the age of disasters.  You know with tsunamis and earthquakes, terrorism and all this shit I just thought man what would be the ultimate catastrophe? That would be the whole planet being destroyed in one swift blow! So I wanted to make a bad ass heavy metal loud one and a total nightmare at the same time, and that’s how the whole thing came on the Concussion Protocol.  I hope you know I was just kidding when I said we were going to do it my way and all that.  You know, people, it’s the funny dude the way you know how long this band’s been together.

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Yes, I sure do

And anytime you have a band together for half as long as we’ve been together there are lineup changes, and that’s just life. I mean look at any heavy metal band that you can think of at off the top of your head Judas Priest, Metallica,  Iron Maiden, Black Sabbath you know Testament and the list goes on and on everybody’s had lineup changes.  So there’s nothing different from Vicious Rumors to any other bands.  If you love what you’re doing you just fix it and move on and that’s what we’ve done in the past.  Right now we’ve got a very particular combination and I really hope that we can stay together and make a few more albums together in this lineup and if for some reason that doesn’t happen, then I’m just going to go ahead and make another bad ass album without, you know I got a great bunch of guys right now, and we have a real good chemistry together.  I think as long as we can work together you know I think the guys are very excited about the response so far, the views and the ratings that the album’s been getting like 9 out of 10 and 8 out of 10.  People just responding in such a positive way and I appreciate your comments too man

Oh yes I rated you guys an 8 out of 10 

that’s fantastic man!

Soon as I heard it, I knew it was you! Soon as the opening riff, I knew it was you.  That’s how distinctive your riff playing is

Thank you very much

Drums, everything about that you can always hear a Vicious Rumors song

I appreciate that 

Going on from Concussion Protocol you’re on a German label now.  How was that first back in the day when we had big budgets with Atlantic Records all that compared to now and the market? 

Well, I tell you it’s been fantastic.  Working with SPV has been an incredible experience.  They know what they’re doing Ali Han and Marco over there in the office.  They’re seasoned veterans.  They’re into the music they know the market.  They’ve done a great job??? Spinning up the album and this year I think they’ve done more for the band than ever before.  I was just here two months doing Press.  I did like 70 interviews.  So it’s been a great experience to work with SPV, and you know Atlantic was also you find out when you’re in a band, and you’re trying to get signed it’s a very tough business you know.  When you have the opportunity to sign with the same label as Led Zeppelin and AC/DC you know it’s a dream come true and you take that opportunity no matter what it is but you know there’s also the reality of being  a minuscule fish in a huge pond and so to be with SPV and be one of their  more featured bands it’s also working out quite well

I remember Sylvio Bonvini, the guy that was doing your A & R at Atlantic

Yes, he was one of them it was him Sylvio and Peggy Donnelly.

Talk about names I remember dealing with getting your stuff.  Sylvio hooked me up with posters of you guys. 
Well you know, like I said Atlantic Records is no joke and everything we’ve done in the past has led us to where we are now.  So I have no regrets, I have no excuses, and I make no apologies.  We’re just trying to do the best we can do and do it.  We’re not trying to reinvent the wheel we’re just trying to take our art and our music and make it the best we can

Going on with your music we’re going to kind of go to a different level we’ll get back to that in a second.   The YouTube issue.  It’s becoming a big issue about YouTube, and I ask everybody these questions I always want to hear what everyone’s opinion is.  There are a lot of people like Nikki Sixx, and a few other people are saying that YouTube is not fair in compensating the artists due to all their music being on YouTube and it just being replayed and replayed and people uploading full video’s of the bands without consent.  I mean do you have an opinion about that?  Have you been following that story at all

 

I mean it’s a real double-edged sword. I mean it’s great for people to find the band and get to see it.  Like our albums just came out Friday and I think later that day someone had already put the whole album on YouTube or some link to go and get our entire album for free and it’s just like in some ways it kills the industry so it’s such a double-edged sword I mean in one respect it’s great because people can find out about you they can hear the music and if they’re real fans maybe they’re going to go out and buy it but there are so many people will just bootleg  your stuff and won’t pay for it, and it is unfair in a lot of ways, and you know it just comes right down to being victims of a digital world.

How do you feel about the streaming service like Spotify and Apple music and all them? Do you think they help or hurt the industry?

Well you know there’s some accountability there.  You know with YouTube it’s just the artist ripped off so at least with Spotify and some of those other things there can be some accountability. You know man, that’s just the world we live in today, and it just makes touring that much more valuable.

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Yes to increase the revenues you’re losing on record sales

Exactly and selling your album to the hardcore fans that go to the shows you know luckily in my case and I think the guys in my band, everybody in my band are guys that love what they do it’s not about money, it’s about passion and fire and living out our dreams you know we’re just very thankful to our fans that stood by us and the new ones that we get all the time cause man without the fans there is no band, and we’re all about the fans we’re nothing without them.

Your video that you came out here, are you playing Dean Guitars now?

Yes, I’ve been with Dean for a while now.

I saw I don’t know if it was you playing a Dean Dime Guitar are that what you’re primarily playing or do you have your signature model? 

Yes, I use the Razorback. You know when I saw that thing I was like my God it’s like a bolt of lightning, and it’s just so fun to play and I’m also a good fan of Dimebag so yes I was euphoric and honored that Dean Guitar would sponsor me with and give me so many great guitars to work with that’s been really a privilege and I’ve been really really proud to play my Dean Guitars around the world.  I have three Razorbacks a Razorback B and ML also an Eric Peterson, and the Eric wasn’t given to me by Dean it has been paid to me by Eric.  He came to my house and gave me the guitar we’ve known each other a long time, and I remember the day he gave that to me I was.  I was like man there are a couple of million people that would just be so blown away to have you come to their house and give them one of your guitars.  Eric and I have grown up together we’ve known each other a long time, so that’s part of being fortunate enough to be a part of the Bay Area metal scene that turned out to be something that the whole world looks to is just something extraordinary.  Metallica, Exodus, Vicious Rumors, Death Angel, Testament, Megadeth bands that are still going strong today.

You’ve got Dave Messina on Dean Guitars. You’ve got Michael Androvetti??? Who are in my group, you’ve got Vinnie Moore, and Rusty Coolidge is on there you know I can go on. It seems like Dean is picking up a lot of different artists and all.  Is there any top signature model for you or are you just happy with what they provide you?

Well you know, we’ll see, we’ll see.  I would love to do that at some point but I’ve been very thankful just to be sponsored by Dean, and you know they’ve given me some great guitars. You know I strangle the hell out of them, I beat the hell out of them and they seem to hold up quite well, so it’s not like a top priority for me my priority is the music and keeping the band working.  I would love to have a Geoff Thorpe signature.

What are your rigs consisting of?  I know you have the Dimebag but what else are you using? 

I’d love to tell you, but unfortunately, I’d have to kidnap you.  No man, I use a real classic rig called a Langner power amp and preamp with a very particular amp called a More Sound, and the More Sound amps are made in San Diego California, and he did make me a signature amp.  I do have an amp it’s called a Megajet amp.  It is not available on the market is a custom amp that was made for me by More Sound amplifiers and yes it’s pretty bad ass I think we got a really great guitar sound on the record and other than that I don’t have a lot of special gear to tell you about and quite honestly 90% of the way guitar players sound is their hands.  I could go into Guitar Center and plug it into the amp, and I’m still going to look like Geoff Thorpe of Vicious Rumors because it’s me playing, so gear and tone is definitely concordant but like I said you know Michael Schenker walks into a Guitar Center picks up the guitar and amp he’s still going to sound like Michael Schenker, and that’s because 90% of guitar players sound is coming right out of his hands.

That’s what I was getting to are you still practicing before each show? You’ve pretty much been at it for 37 years

Oh yes man, I still rehearse and warm up it’s important.  I feel like I can play much more freely if I get a chance to warm up.  I enjoy having rehearsals but unfortunately, nowadays we have this international line-up, and so we don’t get to have so many rehearsals. Everybody’s professional enough just to be ready, and we talk about the list, put together the set list everybody’s ready to go.  We get together, have one or two rehearsals and start the tour.

Are you still up in the Bay area?  Are you guys still practicing up there because you guys are playing Europe so often do you guys stay out there?  

Yes, Larry and I and Thaen still live in the Bay Area and Nick is in The Netherlands. So usually what happens is when we are preparing to go on the road I’ll have three or four rehearsals with Larry and Thaen just the two guitars and drums and then we’ll come to Europe a week early before the tour and  have three or four rehearsals together as a band and then just do it and then everybody shows up individually ready to go so we can have our rehearsals be very concentrated and we’re already rehearsed and ready and you know when you’re in that situation no one wants to be the guy that’s not ready you understand me? So everybody shows up prepared.

What is your touring schedule going to be like for the next twelve months?  Are you guys going to be in Europe?

No.  We’ve got some large plans.  We start October 31 we’re going to be with Durkschneider playing into November supporting him through Scandinavia and Germany,  Czech Republic, Austria then we’re going to break and do two and a half weeks of headline shows, and then we finish with another run with Durkschneider till December 19. We’ve got the 70,000 tons of metal cruise coming up at the beginning of February.  We have a second opportunity for a tour in Europe that we’re negotiating right now, and we certainly have plans to return to the United States as well as Japan and South America, so it’s going to be a very busy 2016-2017 for Vicious Rumors man we’re just putting the classic set out there with the best material. We just want to make it a heavy metal night to remember every time we hit the stage.

I ask everybody this question too. Is there any guitar player of a younger generation that has caught your eye? 

Oh man, there are so many good ones.  Everybody’s younger than me though so I’m not sure what the guys in Arch Enemy.  I don’t know how old Jeff Lynne is he might not be that much younger than I, but he sure is amazing.  It’s funny the part playing of soloing and stuff was a lost art for a while, and now it’s coming back again big time, so I think it would be great to see somebody stepping up the guitar playing again.  Especially with like schools losing music programs and things like that dropping out.

 Well, Geoff, those were exquisite.  Those were the questions I got for protocol, and it sounds like a good album and Nick looked superb on it, the video is sharp there.  Hopefully, you can get your signature endorsement from Dean so you can do that

I appreciate that, and I just want to thank you and the followers, of all your info like I, said we’re all about the fans whether it be the fans from the beginning or they’re just finding out about us you know no excuses no apologies it’s just bad ass heavy metal, and that’s all that matters.

It’s been one hell of a ride with Vicious Rumors in my collection for the past 26 years.  All of us going to see Total Recall is still one of my favorite memories.

I’ll tell you what, just keep rocking my friend and we’ll take you to the movies again sometime ok?

Well if you’re down in Florida, are you guys going to be touring in the states soon or you guys just stay primarily over there because Europe is more of a money maker for you?

Well, we plan on doing a US tour sometime I’d say mid-2017 so yes we’ll be back for sure.