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How to Improve Your Guitar Vibrato Technique, by Tom Boddison

Vibrato, eh? This is one of those well-known guitar techniques that more people know about than they actually know how to do it well. But Tom Boddison will give you a few, precious tips on how to improve your vibrato technique – plus we’ll have a look at the Top 5 best uses of vibrato by famous guitarists!

BB King... king of vibrato!

BB King… the king of vibrato!

Vibrato is one of the most important lead guitar skills you can develop. It adds attitude to any phrase, and works brilliantly to improve your sound.

In this lesson I’ll focus on showing you how to practice your guitar vibrato. There are hundreds of lessons on the web about the motions that you’re supposed to use, but if you don’t know how to practice and improve your vibrato then you won’t get anywhere!

Some players believe that vibrato develops on its own as you play, and although this is partly true, you’ll get much faster results if you devote practice time specifically to this one skill. If you want to make your solos sound really professional, this is absolutely vital.

The Key Elements of a Great Vibrato

In this lesson I’ll assume that you know what vibrato is and you know how to perform the motions. We’ll focus on how to improve it; what you can do to make it sound better and better every time you play.

There are a number of things that make up a really good vibrato technique:

1. Staying relaxed
No matter how much you practice your vibrato, if your fingers are tense then you won’t get anywhere. Having a great vibrato is all about control, and control comes from staying relaxed. If you’re tensing up then slow down, and don’t use so much force!

2. Having an even rhythm
If you don’t have an even rhythm when you play vibrato then it’ll always sound out of control and messy. To make your vibrato sound better, you need to do it in an even rhythm – and preferably in time with the music. Focus on bending and releasing the note in time with the beat.

3. Having even pitch changes
The pitch change is also important when you play vibrato. Try to bend to the same pitch every time – this way, your vibrato will sound in tune and you’ll have much more control over the way it sounds.

4. Using the right vibrato for the job
This all comes down to context. If you’re playing a heavy rock song then your vibrato will most likely be wider and faster than if you’re playing a slower, softer song. Consider what kind of song you’re playing and then adjust your vibrato accordingly – will it suit a more aggressive sound, or a softer, mellower one? Some of this will obviously depend on personal preference.


Playing vibrato is a great lead-guitar skill

How to Practice Vibrato

Now that you’ve got a good idea of what makes up a good vibrato, we’ll go through how to practice it. Do this for five to ten minutes each day and within a couple of weeks you’ll definitely see an improvement in your technique.

1. First, play a note on any fret and bend it up in pitch slightly.
2. Then, release the bend back down to the normal pitch again. Make sure you completely release the bend – otherwise your vibrato will sound out of tune.
3. Now, try and bend back up to the exact pitch that you bent up to before. You can use a tuner if you like to make sure you bend up to the same pitch.
4. Then, fully release the bend again and repeat the process.

Once you’ve gotten used to bending to the same pitch every time, then start doing this exercise to a metronome. Gradually speed it up over time, and before you know it your vibrato will sound great!

After you’ve practised in this way for a days, you can start to apply this stuff to songs. Whenever you add vibrato to a note, pay attention to how it sounds – try to make it sound just a little bit better every single time you do it.

Final Thoughts

I hope this article has helped you to improve your vibrato technique. If you’d like to see more cool articles check out my website www.tomguitar.co.uk, which is filled with reviews, guitar secrets and free lessons!

– by Tom Boddison

Top 5 Best Songs with Vibrato by Famous Guitarists

What are the best songs to feature vibrato? Well, there are a few great examples, but here’s our top 5, picked by Tom, who explains:

“Each of those feature very different vibrato styles, from the subtlety of BB king to the raw, full expression of Stevie Ray Vaughan, to the fast, smooth vibrato of Gary Moore. There’s something to learn from every single one of those.”

1) BB King – The Thrill is Gone

2) Stevie Ray Vaughan – Ain’t Gone ‘n Give Up On Love

3) Rory Gallagher – Bad Penny

4) Gary Moore – Parisienne Walkways

5) Steve Vai – For The Love of God

More info:


Guest Post

How to Fix a Warped Pickguard

By: Chris McMahon

There’s a lot of bad information on the internet, as I was reminded while trying to resuscitate a recent score: a Silver Sparkle 20th Anniversary Squier Jagmaster.

Don’t laugh, it’s paid for!

It’s not a guitar for everyone, but I bought my first about five years ago when I started playing guitar again as an adult. It was fun and cheap, and with a little bit of elbow grease it cleaned up nicely and, after a pro setup, played great. Then I set my sights on more “appropriate” guitars and got myself a Fender Highway One Stratocaster, you know, a proper “dad” guitar.

 Selling the Jagmaster was a mistake (as my daughter frequently reminded me), and when I had some “mad money” recently, I started searching for a replacement. A couple weeks later, I picked one up through Reverb.com. It was a little more expensive than I would have hoped and rougher than I expected. The strings were crusty, every tuner and bolt was loose, and the pickguard was warped. But the electronics worked, the neck was straight, and there was almost no fret wear, though they were dull and a little rough.

All that stuff is easy enough to fix as part of a regular cleanup and restring. This one needed a little more, and in addition to my new and regularly applied Dremel and Nu Finish fret polish routine, which I’ll show next, I decided to fix the damn pickguard. I reckon if a third of a guitar’s face looks off, it’s going to show. And at the very least, it’s going to gnaw at me. Forever. Or until I’m done losing sleep over it and fix it, so why not do it now?

A quick Google search brought up no shortage of bad ideas, all suggesting that you essentially bake the pickguard and, before it melts, burns, discolors or sets off the smoke alarms, pull it out of the oven — careful not to stretch it — and stack books on it till it cools and lays flat.

If you’re inclined to follow that advice, I’m going to guess you don’t have enough books around to pull off that stunt. That said, follow the steps below at your own peril, as I did, and don’t do this to a vintage instrument.


            Here’s how I fixed a warped pickguard:

1. Remove the pickguard from the guitar, and electronics from the pickguard.

Here you can see the bowing of the pickguard

2. Clear some space and wash the dishes in the kitchen sink. You’ll want the room to work, and you’ll score some points with the wife or roommate.

3. Find a cookie sheet or cutting board that’s bigger than your pickguard, but that fits in your sink.


4. Boil some water – enough to fill the sink and cover the cutting board and pickguard with another inch or so. I used a kettle and the biggest pot we have to boil some more.


5. Put the cookie sheet/cutting board in the sink, and place the pickguard in face down, so you don’t scratch it up like I did.


6. Pour the boiling water over it, then put the pot, with the hot water in it, on top.



7. Wait 2 minutes.

8. Remove the pot, then the cutting board with pickguard, and re-stack them to cool.

I let the whole thing cool for about 10 minutes after 2 minutes in the sink.

9. Enjoy a victory beer.

10. Buff it out with car wax, I use Nu Finish.

That’s flat!


11. Reinstall, etc.


There are more than a couple benefits to using hot water rather than an oven. It’s a lot more controllable, as you can see the pickguard throughout the entire process, and the timing is flexible without introducing the possibility of smoke, fire or nasty fumes.




Guest Post

How to Learn to Play the Guitar: for Beginners

The guitar is a beautiful instrument. Whether you play Classical or Jazz, Folk Music or Rock
Music, there is no instrument that is easier to learn, nor is there one which creates such a
variety of voices and sounds.

best acoustic guitar-courtesy of shutter stock
Photo courtesy of Shutterstock

If You Want to Be a Guitarist …

Once you have fallen in love with the guitar and what it can do, there is really no single
correct way to learn to play. Some of the most famous guitar players taught themselves, by
listening to their favourite guitarists. How do you do that? How can you just pick up a guitar
and learn how to play it?

Here are five tips for the beginner guitar player:

Tip No. 1. Learn About the Instrument First.

The guitar has a long history of development, with some scholars saying that the modern
guitar is an ancestor of the Lute or the Greek Kithara. Others say that the modern guitar
developed from the Egyptian Tanbur. Whatever the truth is about the guitar’s history, there
are many types of guitar. Acoustic guitars, classical guitars, steel string guitars, flamenco
guitars, electric guitars. There is a type of guitar for almost every type of music that can be

It is important to learn about the instrument that you are going to play. Beginner players may
need to learn about the parts of the guitar from the head-stock to the sound-hole to the
bridge. It’s necessary to learn how to string and re-string a guitar and to learn which kind of
strings your new guitar will need.

Beginner players also need to learn how to keep their guitar in its best condition. This means
learning how to clean it and where to keep when it is not in use.

Tip No. 2. Learn the Chords.

It is said that there are 2,341 chords in total that can be played up and down the neck of the
guitar. For beginners, the most important chords to learn may be the open chords. These are
the chords from C to B that can be played without the need to barre the strings. By learning
to play some chord combinations in varying keys, the beginner player will get a sense of how
songs can be create. They will also learn some of wonderful songs that have already been
written. A sense of rhythm starts to develop naturally as the beginner player strums the

Tip No. 3. Learn Some Strumming and Finger-picking Techniques.

Most guitar players develop their own sense of rhythm and a strumming style. This is part of
the creativity that grows as a person learns to play any musical instrument. The beginner
guitar player needs to learn coordination, or how to fit the chords he/she has learned into the
rhythm of the music. This means fitting chord changes into a key signature such as 2/4
timing, 4/4 timing, 3/4 timing, 6/8 timing. There are many timing patterns that music is played
in. It’s a good idea to learn some simple finger picking patterns early on as well. This can
give the beginner another way of hearing timing, as well as extending their technique and

Tip No. 4. Learn Some Songs and Easy Pieces of Classical Music.

Learning songs is a good way to bring all the techniques together.It makes all of the more
technical learning worthwhile. As the beginner player learns how chords become songs, it is
also a good idea to learn the individual notes of each string up to the first three frets at least.
By doing this the guitar player learns which notes are in each chord. The first barre chords
that the guitar player will learn are usually the barred F Chord and the barred G chord. These
chords are played on the first and third frets respectively. This ties in with learning the notes
of the first three frets.

Tip No.5. Practise Every Day.

For people who love playing the guitar this will not be difficult. Practice is important, not so
much because practice makes perfect, but because practice leads the guitar player forward.
There are many songs and many pieces of music that can be played on the first three frets of
the guitar. Frequent practice opens the keyboard up to the player. Suddenly, you understand
that riff by one of your favourite guitarists. Suddenly you can play some licks that you never
thought you would be able to play. Unless you actually dislike playing the guitar, which is
highly unlikely, practice is not a chore. It is the time when you sit down and have fun with a
guitar. Well, maybe practising scales is not a lot of fun.

So those are my top five tips for beginner guitar players. Going through the five stages of
learning could take up to two years. In those two years a beginner player will be well on the
way to being a good player. My last tip is to listen to great guitar music as often as possible.


About the website

http://guitarreviewed.com is site that offers lots of information about acoustic guitars to those
who wish to buy a first or even a second instrument. The review of each guitar includes a
photograph of the guitar, followed by a description of the guitar’s features, its price and the
things about the guitar that were either Liked or Not Liked.

About the Author

Hi, my name’s Joe. I was born in the 1980’s and was inspired by rock musicians such as Eric
Clapton, Jeff Beck and Carlos Santana. I also like the sounds of Classical Guitarists such as
John Williams. I write the acoustic guitar reviews on Guitar Reviewed and I sit down to play
the guitar every day, because I love the guitar.
Guest Post

Musical Communication


Have you ever listened to or overheard a conversation between seasoned
musicians? The phrases, terminology and body language are very different from
non musicians. Depending on what type of musician you are talking to, the words,
lingo and animations vary. For example a conversation between two jazz
performers might sound like this:

That cat can really play in the pocket on Birds up-tempo swing tunes, and I
was digging the groove on the walking bass line.

Rock musicians might sound like this:

The drummer crushed it with those 32nd note fills on the hi hat, and I was down
with the syncopation of the double bass drums on his second solo.

Finally the well trained classical musician who wrote the book on terminology
might sound like this:

Did you notice the strings in perfect unison with the reeds while building a
perfect crescendo at the start of the 2nd ending in the 3rd movement.

There are thousands of musical terms that make communicating easier for musicians.
Today I will show you a few of the basic terms that are built into almost
all styles of music. I will break them down into 5 categories with 3 sub categories.

#1 Parts of a Song

a. Verse – In typical popular music the first set of lyrics would be considered
the 1st verse, and would almost always change going from verse to verse telling the

b. Chorus – Unlike the verse the chorus usually retains the same lyrics and is
often the most memorable part of the song.

c. Bridge – In pop and rock songs, the bridge is a section where the lyrics or
music connect or bridge the verse to the chorus. This is usually done with a
different melody line and with different lyrics.

#2 Style of a Tune

a. Swing – A form of American music developed in the 1930’s which has a
strong rhythmic groove or drive. The emphasis in swing is on the offbeat of the

b. Waltz – In a Jazz context Waltz would be any piece of music written in ¾
time or 3 beats per measure. In classical music it is also played in ¾ time but
traditionally used for ballroom dancing or folk dance.

c. Bossa – Short for Bossa Nova is a genre of Brazilian music made popular
in the 1950’s and 60’s. Bossa has a swaying feel rather than a swinging feel. Bossa
like most Latin based styles of music incorporates a lot of syncopation.

#3 Navigating a Tune

a. Coda – Primarily a term that designates a passage of music to the end of
the tune. The symbol looks like a circle with two lines going through it.

b. D.C al fine – D.C. or (Da Capo) means repeat to beginning of the song, then
to the word fine which means end.

c. Treble Clef – Or G Clef is a sign indicating the pitch of written notes. The
Treble Clef as its name implies, is reserved for instruments that can produce notes
with a higher pitch as opposed to the bass clef designated for lower pitched

#4 Dynamics

a. Forte – Is a musical term which means to play loudly at that section of the

b. Decrescendo – Is a sign that looks like this ( >) letting you know that the
music will have a gradual decrease in force or loudness.

c. Fermata – Is a prolonged tone, chord, or rest beyond its indicated time. A
good example would be in the tune Happy Birthday, when you come to the
person’s name it is held for a longer time than the music allows for. Or in the Star
Spangled Banner when you get to the word free.

#5 Tempo

a. Andante – Means in a moderately slow and even tempo. It can also mean
gently or flowing.

b. B.P.M. – Refers to beats per minute which is attached to a number. For
example a song that has 80 bpm is exactly twice as slow than a tune that has 160
bpm in it. Marching band and Disco music usually play songs that uses 120 beats
per minute probably because it is easy to march to and also to dance to.

c. Up – Short for upbeat, is a jazz term indicating that the music should be
played quickly.

Just like most professions there are ways to communicate that are outside of
(normal) conversation. A good example might be the Lingo between Lawyers,
Doctors, and Law Enforcement. Another good example would be wildlife. We
clearly don’t understand the language but they are communicating quite well with
each other.



Source:  https://skypealesson.com offer private
online Music, Art and Technology lessons. They use top of the line equipment and
have incredibly fast internet to guarantee that your lessons are in HD video and
audio. All of their teachers are accredited in their fields and have years of practical
experience in teaching and performing. All lessons are taught from their central
offices, they offer affordable prices, and are extremely competitive with other
Guest Post

Top 10 Reasons to Play in a Band

Top 10 Reasons to Play in a Band


It’s a no brainer; much of the initial aspiration to play any instrument comes from the desire to have what your musical heroes have, or to at least produce the kind of material they produce. In many cases, you’ll end up having to find a few like-minded musicians to help make that aspiration a reality. It’s a huge commitment if you’re in it to win it, and you will have to make sacrifices, but in my opinion the good far outweighs the bad. Here’s my list of the top ten reasons to play in a band:


  1. The Attraction

Everyone’s thinking it, so I figured I’d get it out of the way before anything else. Sex, drugs, and rock and roll! There’s a reason it’s in that order. Chances are when you start playing gigs, your early performances will be at bars around town. As a hotspot for socializing and meeting people, playing at a bar is an immediate ice-breaker for you. By just doing something you love, you establish that you 1) Like music, 2) Are talented, and 3) Look cool rocking out. That’s all before you’ve made a name for yourself! Once you do that…well…


Heck, there’s even been research done on this philosophy! A study done by Université de Bretagne-Sud in France claims that women are 31% more likely to go out on a date with a man holding a guitar case versus holding nothing at all. Incentive, or what?!


9. The Creative Outlet


When you start to write music, you will find that there are certain limitations when you’re working alone. For some, this is ideal and they learn to embrace it. Whether or not you absolutely love the feeling of writing and playing music by yourself, you should still try out the band atmosphere. Receiving input from other musicians, jamming, and simply coming up with ideas as a collective is (in my opinion) far more rewarding than doing these things alone. People have different influences, and sometimes the best way to write original music is to have a group of players who throw all their differences into a mixing pot. You never know where a song might end up when you have a few different people working on it, and a fresh set of ears is a great way to solve writer’s cramp.


8. The Fun


Simply put, it’s way more fun to play and make music when you’re doing it with other people. Have a new idea for a riff? Show the band, and jam it out. All of a sudden you can hear everything together, not just you and your metronome. The experiences of playing shows, recording music, getting new fans and friends, and travelling distances to play are really like none other. Especially when you get to do all these things with a few folks who start to feel less like “band members” and more like they’re a part of…


7. The Family


Aside from the music, the longer you remain a band with the same people, the closer your bond gets. These people you got together with just to make music quickly become your best friends. Band practise starts to feel more like hanging out, and you find ways to entertain yourselves when on the road or before a show. You understand each other, and writing music becomes easier as you become more acquainted with how everyone works. If one member suffers, everyone suffers – quite literally. A member who is too sick, injured, or even upset to perform, practice or record hinders the rest of the band. For this reason and many others, everyone kind of “has each others backs.”


6. The Teamwork


Everyone puts in equally, everyone takes out equally. That’s the ideal band setup (though not always the case). You want everyone to be happy, and to feel like an important member of the team. Nobody likes to feel that their contribution is less important. Being in a band builds teamwork for this reason, similarly to the way being on a sports team does – you’re all working towards the same common goal.


5. The Income



Eventually, you can start making some money by playing in a band. You can do this in a variety of different ways like from selling your music, being paid to play, and by selling merchandise.  If you’re not in an established band are just looking to make some supplementary income, it’s a good idea to consider starting a cover band. Venues love having a good sounding cover band play famous hits to get people in the door and keep them there, so you’ll generally make more money doing this than trying to start a new original project.


4. The Free Beer / Food














Every band has been there! The venues that aren’t able to pay you money to play, but will give you free beer and / or a meal to play at their location. There comes a time where this isn’t such a great deal, but when you’re just starting out then what’s wrong with that? You just want to play and have your friends come see you – invite them out, play your music for fun, and have a free brew while you’re at it. It almost makes you feel like you’re VIP!


3. The Management Skills


















Unless you’ve already hit it big and are able to have someone do all the legwork for you, being in a productive a band is a LOT of work. You need to book your own shows and practices, which are daunting tasks by themselves. The more people in your band, the harder it is to get everyone in the same room together once or twice a week, and the harder it is to make sure everyone’s schedule is free for performance dates. Without meaning to, you gain quite a bit of management skills by being in and running a band. By keeping track of your band’s successes and accomplishments, you can add some good material to your resume for future endeavors.


2. The Connection


Like I mentioned in “The Family” point, there’s a special connection shared between band members when you play. It doesn’t end there, though! You learn to connect with your fans and your audience. Your job is to ensure that they want to listen to your music, and want to come see you play, so you need to find what it is that makes people like your band and really connect with whatever that is. On top of that, once you’ve started playing shows with other bands, you start to connect with them too. You become part of a community, and a scene that feels like home.


1. The Experience


All things rolled into one, there’s really no other thing that will feel quite the same as playing in a band. Whether it becomes a life long career for you, or something you can look back at later on in life, you might just associate “that time you were in a band” with some of the best moments of your life. It’s one of those things that, as a musician, you can look back on and say “at least we tried, and had fun doing it.”









Guest Post
Vintage 1950's True Tone Acoustic Guitar

Getting That Elmore James Sound On The Cheap!

by Dave Anderson

So I have been getting into slide guitar quite a bit lately and have been diving into my blues collection for inspiration. One thing I noticed was the tone that guys like Elmore James and Lightning Hopkins were getting was not your typical electric guitar plugged into an amp an cranked. After a bit of research I realized that these guys were taking flat top acoustic guitars and mounting electric pickups on them to get their tone. So I set out to make a slide guitar that would pay homage to those blues artists of the past.

First, I set out to find the right guitar. Now I have a love for old, Chicago made Silvertone, Kay, and Harmony guitars. Due to the lack of truss rods, inconsistent neck sets, and non adjustable bridges, they can be a crap shoot as far as playability. But the tone of these budget acoustics is perfect for blues guitar in my humble opinion, and for slide playing, who can’t get along with a bit higher action? A quick search on the net and I found my specimen. A ’50s TrueTone acoustic that had a broken tuning key on Ebay for $100.00. I quickly pushed the buy now button and waited for my new
/ old guitar to arrive!

Vintage 1950's True Tone Acoustic Guitar

Vintage 1950’s True Tone Acoustic Guitar

After a few days the UPS driver stopped on my street with a large, guitar shaped box! I quickly opened it up and found a decent looking TrueTone acoustic just as the seller described. I quickly ran to the bench with my new prize and went to work!

Vintage 1950's True Tone Acoustic Guitar

Vintage 1950’s True Tone Acoustic Guitar

The guitar seemed to be in pretty good shape and the neck joint seemed stable and in tact. The action was a bit high as I expected but to my surprise, the neck was straight, Yes! I took off the old strings, and began to shave down the wooden, floating bridge. (quick tip: sometimes a floating wood bridge wants to move around a bit when bending strings, especially if it has been thinned down to lower the action. I like to use a bit of violin rosin on the bottom to help keep it in place!)After taking apart a few old tuner sets I had lying around, I found a gear that fit and repaired the broken tuning key. Did a light fret level and dress, and threw a set of light gauge strings on it for a test run!

Vintage 1950's True Tone Acoustic Guitar

Vintage 1950’s True Tone Acoustic Guitar

My new blues machine was half way there, and played surprisingly well! With a big, canny, mid range voice, the old TrueTone proved itself up to the task for some delta slide. I then went through my pickup bin and found exactly what I needed. A cheap GFS firebird pickup that fit perfectly in the sound hole. I quickly wired it up to an end pin jack and mounted it in the guitar. I normally wouldn’t screw a pickup into the top of an acoustic guitar, but I was driven to get that Elmore James sound! Plus, for $100.00, why not…

Vintage 1950's True Tone Acoustic Guitar

Vintage 1950’s True Tone Acoustic Guitar

I decided to restring it with medium gauge strings, tuned it to open D and let’er rip! The result was exactly what I wanted. Big, hollow, gritty blues with an open airy quality! If you have a desire to get into some slide guitar and are looking through your collection to see which axe is going to get revamped for heavy strings and higher action, you may look around a bit and find yourself a nice, vintage US made budget acoustic that you can turn into a blues machine! Of course you could always just get another Eastwood/Airline guitar and dedicate it to your slide explorations! I find my 2P Deluxe works great!

Written by Dave Anderson

Guest Post
Phil Jones Pure Sound

Phil Jones Pure Sound: Breaking New Ground In Our Own Back Yard

Phil Jones Pure Sound

Phil Jones Pure Sound

by Dave Anderson


It’s interesting to think that the majority of gear that we lust after as players was designed over 60 years ago. Strats, Les Pauls, 335’s, Tele’s, Fender tube amps, even the Flying V and Explorer, all designed in the 1950’s. In fact the majority of boutique gear currently being made is a rehash of these same designs from decades ago.

In an age where we have bluetooth everything, cell phones, touch screens, online commerce, LED lighting, MP3s, etc…we still plug our archaic electric guitars into our vacuum tube amplifiers and proceed to rock out. Other than our ’50’s era eyeglass wear (which will most likely fall out of fashion sooner or later), I can’t think of another facet of our lives that is a throw back to the mid century…ok, there is that IKEA coffee table…

Not even throw back….we don’t seek out these hand wired relics of rock because it is simply fashionable, it really is the best means for great tone! Right?

England native, Phil Jones is a natural born electronics/audio geek. Around the age of 13, he “borrowed” some magnets from school and hand wound a double bass pickup on a record player, ( He dug it out of a closet and showed me…amazing!). As a child he raided dumpsters in search of old tv’s and radios that he could dissect and turn into amplifiers. He even collected old tobacco tins, turning them into hand built stomp boxes!

After an apprenticeship with British Telecom, Jones studied orchestral arrangement and earned a degree on the double bass. He worked as a professional musician for a while before moving to Iran to work as a specialist in Navigation Systems while studying audio and acoustics in his spare time. A few years later Jones moved back to England to start his own live audio concert sound company running sound for large outdoor venues using his own designed horn loaded speakers. He soon built his own 24 track studio, leading him to designed his own near field monitors which led him to start his first company Acoustic Energy and designing the AE 1 near field monitor.

Jones moved to the states to take a designing job with Boston Acoustics after a disagreement with investors of Acoustic Energy led him unable to continue designing speakers in England due to interest conflicts with what became his former company. After a four year stint with Boston Acoustics in the US, Jones started up another company; Platinum Audio. in New Hampshire, making high end audio speakers . In 1998 Phi moved to China to start American Acoustic Development and in 2002 Jones started Phil Jones Bass Amplification using AAD resources. Jones then moved back to the States in 2003 and settled in the St. Louis area where he still runs his company, commuting to China 6 times a year making high end bass amps, guitar amps, and audio gear.

To clarify, though his factory is in China, this doesn’t mean Jones works with sub par materials or is trying to cut corners. He spent two years building his factory from the ground up with his partners Edifier International: a public corporation to insure top notch quality, and components are produced in house to his expectations. Parts that can’t be built in his Chinese factory up to his expectations are imported in from other countries such as USA Japan and Europe.. Having his bench in China keeps his cost affordable enough to produce his personal standard of quality and enables him to control every aspect of the process.

Phil Jones bass amps are designed under the principle of a series of proprietary small, high efficiency, 5″ drivers that move as much air as a large bass speaker, but retain the clarity and fidelity of a high end studio monitor. The result is a bass amp that allows the listener to feel the low end yet hear the notes clearly.

Jones also builds acoustic guitar amplifiers and even has a model ( the AG300 Super Cub), that is a 300watt, two channel acoustic/ electric amplifier. Though Jones admits that it is hard to design a single amp that does multiple tasks at a superior quality level, the AG300 is a top of the line acoustic and electric guitar amplifier. Weighing only 26lbs, the two channel amp houses six, 5″ drivers that will fill a room. Channel one is voiced to handle the midrange of an electric guitar and accepts pedals beautifully, while channel two is voiced for the sonic pallet of acoustic instruments. It also has built in effects allowing the amp to perform excellently by it’s self. Because the amp is full range, you can use it for practically any acoustic/electric instrument, pedal steel, electric guitar, and even keyboard. I had the opportunity to try the AG300 at a wedding gig and used it for both pedal steel and electric guitar. I found that it worked well with my pedal board and was a joy to load in and out at 26lbs.

Jone’s most recent line of amps are the AirPulse EG300 and EG500. These new designs are a departure from Jone’s previous amplifier designs housing a 1×8″ speaker in the EG300 and a 1×12 in the EG600. Both amps use the same 500 watt Class D amplifier. I AB’d both amps against a vintage Fender Concert tube amp and the difference was astounding! The AirPulse amps were fuller and richer sounding with plenty of power. Switching between the tube amp and the AirPulse left the Fender sounding weak and flat. I consider myself to be a bit of a tube aficionado, but I believe if I had tried both amps in a blind test, I would have totally picked the AirPulse as the vintage tube amp.

Jones will be releasing the EG series AirPulse amps at the winter NAMM show in Anaheim, CA this coming January. Although he has been recently focusing on the electric guitar market, Jones is still working on more goodies for bass players and has recently developed the Double Four, a 70watt bass amp the size of a small lunch box that has amazing bass tone. I tried it with a five string bass and the Double Four handled the low B string with ease. Perfect for studio and practice applications.

So when we think of boutique tone, do we look to the past or move forward? Is vacuum tube technology the best we will ever see….or more importantly hear? Are we able to get past the psychology of what we think is the best tone, and open our ears and minds to the possibility of what could be…the future?

Let me go on the record to say that I personally love tube tone. There is no modeling amp, studio plug in, or effects rack, that I have encountered that surpasses the feeling of playing through a vintage tube amp, for me anyway. But if I never keep my self open to the possibility of new technology, I might end up missing out on a whole lot more. I also want to make clear that I am not heading to the mountain to preach of the new savior that Phil Jones is to our ears, but I have to say the amps I tried that Phil Jones has created where pretty cool. It’s even more cool that he is in our own back yard.

Phil Jones currently offers tons of gear for the music and audio world including bass amps, guitar amps, headphones, studio monitors and more.

For more information on Phil Jones and his equipment visit http://www.philjonespuresound.com/

Written by: Dave Anderson

Guest Post
John Lennon with his 1965 Epiphone E230TD Casino guitar unsanded (The Beatles)

John Lennon’s Guitars in the Beatles

One of the most legendary musicians of all time was also quite the great guitar player. Many don’t associate John Lennon with being a great guitarist, but in actuality he was. Sure in the early Beatles’ days, he played standard rhythm guitar, but in later years he was soloing along side George Harrison.

So what guitars did John use as a Beatle? Lets take a closer look…

1958 Rickenbacker 325 Capri

John Lennon with his 1958 Rickenbacker 325 Capri guitar (The Beatles)

John Lennon with his 1958 Rickenbacker 325 Capri guitar (The Beatles)

It was in 1960 that John acquired the 325 capri, which accompanied him in the Hamburg days. This guitar can famously be seen in the Beatles’ first Ed Sullivan Show performance. Rumor has it that this guitar was a natural color and was painted black in 1962. It is believed that he stopped using it sometime in 1964. The 325 Capri has been left in the hand of John’s son, Sean Lennon.

1962 Gibson J-160E

John Lennon with his 1962 Gibson J-160E guitar (The Beatles)

John Lennon with his 1962 Gibson J-160E guitar (The Beatles)

One of John’s most famous acoustic guitars is easy to recognize with the sunburst finish and knobs on the soundboard to control the built-in pickup. The Gibson can be heard on the song “Love Me Do” and was used extensively on the Please Please Me sessions. Lennon picked up another J-160E, which he took on tour in 1964 and 1965.

1963 Rickenbacker 325

John Lennon with his 1963 Rickenbacker 325 guitar (The Beatles)

John Lennon with his 1963 Rickenbacker 325 guitar (The Beatles)

This Rickenbacker came in to replace John’s “Hamburg” Capri, which had taken quite the beating. It was used on the album A Hard Day’s Night. As well, it was used on the second performance the Beatles did on the Ed Sullivan Show. Lennon also received a 12-string version of this guitar.

1961 Fender Stratocaster

John Lennon with his 1961 Fender Stratocaster Guitar (The Beatles)

John Lennon with his 1961 Fender Stratocaster Guitar (The Beatles)

In 1964, John Lennon and George Harrison made a request for some strats, and each received one. In a cool light blue color with a rosewood fretboard, the stratocasters were used on the song “Nowhere Man”. George Harrison later gave his a psychedelic paint job for the All You Need is Love satellite broadcast.

1965 Epiphone E230TD Casino

John Lennon with his 1965 Epiphone E230TD Casino guitar sanded (The Beatles)

John Lennon with his 1965 Epiphone E230TD Casino guitar sanded (The Beatles)

John Lennon with his 1965 Epiphone E230TD Casino guitar unsanded (The Beatles)

John Lennon with his 1965 Epiphone E230TD Casino guitar unsanded (The Beatles)

This hollow body guitar is quite famous as John used it for the impromptu rooftop concert. He also toured with it extensively in 1966 and it can be seen at the Beatles’ Shea Stadium performance. Sometime in 1968, John has his Casino sanded down to its natural finish, which can be seen in the rooftop concert.

Other guitars John had during the Beatles

  • Ramirez A-1 classical guitar
  • Framus 12-string acoustic guitar
  • 1963 Gretsch 6120, Guild Starfire XII
  • 1966 Vox Kensington
  • 1965 Martin D-28 acoustic

– Posted by Raj who writes a blog on Guitar Tone

Check out these cool ‘best of’ articles from GuitarToneTalk:

Guest Post

Fret Levels For Accurate Guitar Set Ups

As a full time repair tech, I would say that set ups are probably the most common procedure I do in the shop on the average day. And probably 90% of the guitars that come through the door need a fret level and recrown along with the set up. I thought I would share with you the process I go through to inspect frets and what is actually involved in a fret level, as well as some of the reasons your guitar’s frets became undeveloped in the first place.

When I assess a guitar for set up, the first thing I do is sight down the neck. I want to see how much ” relief ” or bow is in the neck. I like to have the neck as straight as possible to check for unlevel frets, twist in the neck, and humps in a certain part of the fret board. I also like to move the truss rod a bit to make sure it works properly.

Once I have sighted the neck and made necessary adjustments to make sure it is straight, I take a fret rocker (multi sided straight edge) and check the frets, three at a time to make sure they are level. If I encounter a high fret, the straight edge will teeter back and forth to the other two lower frets on each side. I always check on the bass side, middle , and treble side while the guitar is tuned to pitch. Because the frets are over radiused before installed, they have a bit of spring to them. Frets can become unlevel on one side or the other as well as the middle, causing buzzing on specific areas and strings.

Once I have determined the need for a fret level, I remove the strings and adjust the truss rod again to make sure the neck is straight. I may mark certain areas of the frets with a sharpe that visually stand out as high spots in the fret board. I pay close attention to what the neck was like with string tension as well as with out to see how the plain of the neck changes. I want to account for these changes when leveling.

Depending on the severity of unlevelness, I will use either a leveling bar with 220 grit sand paper or a single cut fret leveling or mill file. I always check for loose frets that maybe glued before I start leveling. I prefer a leveling bar or file over a radiused block so I can better control the amount of material I take off in a certain area.

Once I have milled the frets level I need to go through with a crowning file to make the frets round again. I use a 150 grit diamond crowning file and then touch up with a 300 grit crowning file.

Once the frets are levels and crowned I go through the process of dressing the frets with 360, 400, 600, steel wool, and 800 grit. Then I follow with micro mesh sanding pads that go from 1500 to 12,000 grit. I finally finish with a light buffing compound and a buffing wheel on my Dremel tool to give the frets a smooth, mirror like finish. At this point I am ready to string and setup the instrument.

Unlevel frets is very common problem that can show up on new guitars as well as used instruments. Buzzing and sizzling sounds in a specific area are common signs of unlevel frets as well as divots and wear from general playing, which can cause intonation issues as well as buzz. Set ups are general maintenance for guitars and fret levels are needed on well played instruments to insure even playability so if you haven’t had your guitar looked at in a while, take time to visit your favorite guitar tech. You’ll be glad you did!

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Posted By: Dave Anderson
Read more about the author: http://www.riverfronttimes.com/2012-12-06/music/dave-anderson-interview-tritone-guitar/

Guest Post
Vintage Fender Musicmaster Electric Guitar

My First Fender

A couple of months ago, I inquired about an Eastwood 12-string electric guitar. Your response was immediate, and ever since, I have enjoyed your website. After seeing today’s email, your request for stories brought back memories of my first Fender. I hope you find it interesting.

Back in the Sixties, Fender guitars were the holy grail of electric guitars. I knew two people in the valley that had Jazzmasters. But, being a sixteen year old kid, owning a Fender was out of the question. For us, it was the Sears or Eaton’s catalogue and a cheap, poorly built guitar from another land. My first electric guitar was so poorly built it could not be tuned properly, and every time you switched pickups, you got a shock. It soon went back to the catalogue company. I settled for an Italian acoustic and played folk music, but the thought of an electric guitar was never far from my mind. Playing Ventures music on an acoustic just didn’t cut it. After a long and hot summer, I earned enough money working at a chicken farm to head off to the city and see if I could buy some sort of electric guitar.

hitchhikerOne sunny morning, I swung my acoustic across my back, stuck out my thumb and headed for the city, about 2 ½ hours away. Pretty soon an old beat up Hudson pulled up, driven by a longed haired hippie, with wife, baby, and sister. Strapped to the roof were their worldly possessions, as they were from California, heading north to the gold fields in Alaska. I got in the back with the sister, guitar across my knees as there was barely room with all the boxes and clothes. We got to talking about their adventure, life, sixties politics, and eventually music. I mentioned that I was headed to the city to see if I could trade my acoustic in on an electric guitar. After a while I learned that he had a Fender electric in the trunk. Of course, I was pretty excited that I met another Fender owner, and we talked different models etc. After a couple hours, he eyed my acoustic and told me that they were a bit short on cash and he would consider selling his Fender, taking my acoustic as part of the deal.

Deep in my heart, I was thinking, “I’ll never be able to afford it, but what the heck, at least find out how much he wanted for his guitar”. He scratched his beard for a few seconds, and said “tell you what…your acoustic and ninety bucks, and you got yourself a deal”. Well, you could have peeled me off the roof of the car. I was in heaven – I was going to buy a Fender! My summer’s work had put $130 bucks in my pocket, so I said I might be interested. Yeah right, I would have given him every cent I had. I wanted that Fender, and I am sure he could tell I was pretty excited. He would get the guitar out of the trunk so I could look at it when we got to where he needed to turn off and go north.

Finally we reached the turn-off, he pulled the car off the highway, and I proceeded to help him unload a well packed trunk. It took a few minutes and finally, laying across the bottom was a beat up old brown fender guitar case. I was so excited, it didn’t matter what was in that case…it was a Fender and that was all that mattered. He slid the case out and onto the ground. He popped the case open and there it was. This beautiful, beat up, old, scratched and chipped, beige colored, ¾-sized, one pick-up, maple neck Musicmaster:

I picked it out of the case, strummed a couple of chords, stood up, shook his hand, and said, I’ll take it!” I pulled the cash out of my wallet, helped him put everything back in the trunk, and then watched as they headed north, the sister smiling in the back seat as she strummed my acoustic.

I crossed the highway, stuck out my thumb and headed back the way I came. I didn’t need to go any farther. I was the proud owner of a Fender.

Written by: Andrew Marr, Coldstream B.C.

Guest Post