This month’s column focuses on my pet peeves and some very important and yet overlooked aspects of guitar playing and your enjoyment of your guitar: tuning and set-ups. Everybody deserves to have a guitar that plays well, stays in tune, and is in tune with itself. This is not just the privilege of globetrotting superstars, but everyone who owns a decent instrument.
Mike Stern is one of those lucky few: a guitarist who can do it all. Though he’s known for the depth and precision of his jazzy ballads and rip-snortin’ fusion instrumentals, he’s equally respected for the woozy bends and woody tone of his paeans to the greats of blues and rock. Listen to any of his many excellent releases (all of which remain active in the Atlantic catalog), and you’ll caught by the power of his deceivingly subtle blend.
One thing I have noticed over the thirty years I have been playing guitar is that guitars have their own sound no doubt, but amplifiers do “reproduce” the sound of the electric guitars differently. Case in point, the Les Paul guitar coming out of a vintage Marshall an amp with plenty of treble, sounds fat yet cuts through nicely. I believe the same thing for a Les Paul running through a blackface Super Reverb, it cuts beautifully. Put that same Paul through say a Tweed Pro or a first run Ampeg Reverberocket and it sounds muddy and has trouble cutting through especially using the neck pickup. IMHO a sure test of a good Paul is does the neck pickup have some bite to it.
Early Alamos were somewhat inspired by Rickenbacker guitars, but by 1965 their designs had clearly gone over the top. In fact, it’s safe to say that, even in a whacky pack like that of the mid-’60s, Alamo guitars were among the boldest in America! Like this 1965 Alamo Fiesta Model 2586R!
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