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!
We are designing a new website and are in need of a fresh, new LOGO. Out with the old and in with the new! What will it be? Go ahead, design a new LOGO, you might win a guitar! Your logo will find its way on to all our webpages, advertising and thousands of T-shirts all over the world!
I’ve been playing the electric twelve string guitar professionally for the last 16 years in my band The Carpet Frogs. Guitar players have often complimented me on the tone of my electric 12 string and have asked me how I get that “authentic” sound! For me, it all started with the two Godfathers of the electric 12 string: George Harrison of the Beatles and Roger McGuinn of The Byrds. Obviously, the first ingredient is a great 12 string. The Granddaddy of them all is the Rickenbacker 12 string.
This subject has been discussed many times in many places, so what do I do for my first column? I tackle a worn out subject with what I hope is a unique perspective. First, I will tell you that I have owned many vintage Fenders and Gibson’s over the years. I still own the vintage Gibson’s and do not own any more vintage Fenders (I guess that gives a preview of my take on Vintage Fender vs. Vintage Gibson). So let’s get started!!!
The minute I laid eyes on this c. 1965 Wandré Modele Karak – that is, once I was able to get beyond the knockout shape – I thought “motorcycle.” Take a gander at that vibrato. Look like a motorcycle chevron? And what’s up with that neck? It’s tooled from aluminum, which makes it weird enough. But just like motorcycles have all the works exposed on the outside, this aluminum neck stretches its whole length- head to vibrato – on the outside of the guitar! Even the head frame shouts motorbike. So, is there a two-wheel connection?
I was determined to find something that would allow for my inner bass player to come out – and then I discovered the wonderful world of baritone guitars. You know, those extended scale things with strings as thick as a bass that are an octave lower than a regular guitar. Yes, Nirvana was at hand!
Sure, you can rattle off scales and string riffs together and throw in the odd mode or two, but unless you’re thinking melody, you have not made music; you are not improvising. You may have confirmed that you know which building blocks fit, but you’ve created nothing new. Improvisation to me implies invention, and you don’t invent scales any more than an artist invents Cobalt Blue or Vermilion Red. Scales and modes are like the squirts of paint on a palette. You have to choose carefully which to use, which to blend. Start mixing too many colors and you wind up with mud.
I don’t remember exactly when I’d heard about Messenger guitars. But many years later, having a nice collection of guitars with aluminum necks seemed like just what I needed! I needed a Messenger.
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