Spring seems an appropriate time to clear out the music shelves, so I started sorting the CD’s I received for review over the past 8 months into two piles: Reviewed and Not. I was a little surprised to see that about 400 were Not, and nearly 100 were Reviewed. I should mention that I call myself a reviewer instead of a critic because I will not pan somebody’s work in print. It’s hard enough to get a career going without bad press, and not everybody shares my opinions, so I just don’t review those I don’t really like. I will, on occasion, send a critique to a player whose work has real promise even if I don’t review it. So in that spirit I would like to offer up some tips that have come to me from decades of reviewing as well as talking to other reviewers and critics about their methods.
I believe that a guitar amp doesn’t need to have more than 50 watts of power – ever! Heh! I can hear the clicking of many keyboards preparing their rebuttals to that comment! It’s never wise to make such a sweeping generalization. But there is some sense behind my comment – at least I think so! My belief that more than 50 watts is a waste has to do with where guitarists play, the type of equipment available in live venues if a guitarist gigs, and how output power affects a guitar amp’s performance.
All music performance is a creative endeavor, whether it’s an original composition or an interpretation of someone else’s piece. Creativity is absolutely necessary to the art of making music, and without it, all we have are meaningless strands of notes trailing across a page or hanging limply in the air. Great musicians nurture creativity, and one of the best ways to do this is with consistent improvisation. How can you give life to someone else’s written music without being able to create your own? It’s possible to mimic musicality, but to own it, you’ll need to create music.
Is electric guitar tone better now than it was in rock’s ‘golden age’ in the 60’s and 70’s? A recent article titled “Is It Tougher To Get Good Tone Now Vs. Then?” on Jay Kumar’s fantastic Woody Tone site explores that very question. Quoted from the article, guitarist and producer Dave Cobb, who recently recorded a new album with Black Robot, believes that “Everything was better back then.”
Guitar, check. Amp, check. Cables, check. Effects, check. You’ve got all the gear necessary to get a great sound on stage. Aside from the guitar player’s skill, why do some sound better than others? This month we’ll look at a few aspects of getting a good live sound. While this article is mostly aimed at those of us with who have don’t have much or any stage experience, there may be something of interest here for almost anyone.