What to Do When You're

What to Do When You're "Stuck in a Rut," Part 2

December 13, 2018 2 Comments

The traditional advice often given to the bride when selecting her wedding attire, was, "Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue." I have no idea what that could possibly have to do with music. But since you can literally do just about anything to break out of a rut, let's apply the old adage to our current situation and see what happens.

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What to Do When You're

What to Do When You're "Stuck in a Rut," Part 1

December 05, 2018 3 Comments

One of the most common frustrations most musicians experience is the dreaded "Stuck in a Rut Syndrome" (I just made that up, but you get the idea). Because of the incomprehensible amount of time one must invest to master a musical instrument, it is easy to work your way into practice habits that can interfere with your advancement. You worked so long at getting it right, that it became a habit. But even though you have mastered it, you continue drilling the exercise. Worse yet, this can even happen with exercises that you haven't yet mastered, locking you into endlessly practicing badly. You know you need something fresh, but it can be hard to know what to change. So, the next time you find yourself stuck in a rut, look to one of these easy techniques to help you get back on track fast.

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What's in a Guitar Pick?

What's in a Guitar Pick?

November 16, 2018 6 Comments

If I were ever arrested for being a guitar player and they searched my house for evidence, they'd probably come up with a few hundred guitar picks. Years worth of them in gig bags, junk drawers, pocket change and sofa cushions. Chances are most guitar players could say the same. Usually there is at least some variety in most "private collections," but eventually most of us find something we're comfortable with and settle down, seldom making another change unless the style demands it. Yet many players have never really studied picks and the nuances of each type. A new pick can inspire a different way of picking or help the player to get a better feel for a challenging technique, such as alternate or sweep picking. Every once in a while, exploring a handful of new picks can lead to new avenues of playing, for only a few cents... okay, dollars. Forgive me; I've been at this a long time.

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Three Reasons to Try Some Pedals Before Getting a New Amp

Three Reasons to Try Some Pedals Before Getting a New Amp

November 09, 2018 1 Comment

If you’re unhappy with your tone or simply want to try something different, your first instinct may be to reach for a different guitar or go amp shopping. If that’s the case, it’s totally understandable - those are the two most obvious components of your rig. However, next time you find yourself looking to make a change, consider adding some new pedals to your arsenal, or if you’ve already amassed a good number of pedals, try some new ones. There are a few reasons for this:

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Tone vs. Portability: Is there a Middle Ground?

Tone vs. Portability: Is there a Middle Ground?

October 16, 2018 3 Comments

In the quest for perfect tone, many musicians have found all-tube amplifiers to be an ideal fit. After all, nothing compares to the heft, warmth, and richness of a good tube amp. However, there is one glaring drawback - weight. All those tubes and heavy transformers really add up to take a toll on your back. Spend a few months or even a few weeks moving a heavy tube amp up stairs or squeezing it into the back of a packed van and you’ll likely start to wonder if the tone is worth it, or if a similar tone is available in a more portable package.

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FDR60 Direct Box Demo Video

October 10, 2018

Carvin Audio FDR60 Direct Box Demo Video

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Why You Need a Good DI Box

Why You Need a Good DI Box

October 10, 2018 2 Comments

When the sound tech needs to connect an instrument-level source (such as a bass guitar or keyboard) to the PA system, they will typically reach for a direct injection box (DI box). At first thought, this might seem counter-intuitive, since most mixers have 1/4" inputs and enough gain to match a wide range of signal levels. So, what are DI boxes, and why are they used? 

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Music Theory You Need, Especially if You Don't Read: Bonus Skills

Music Theory You Need, Especially if You Don't Read: Bonus Skills

October 05, 2018 1 Comment

As we have explored some essential music theory for non-reading musicians in these past few articles, you may have wondered at some point, "What does this have to do with playing by ear in a band?" We did see how a little theory makes it easier to invent new chords, and we learned how each key signature represents a family of notes and chords that naturally fit together. We also discovered that knowing how to subdivide the bar and the ability to read rhythm notation can be essential regardless of whether you're playing by ear or reading a chart. In the process of learning these basic skills, you have also acquired some new skills that you never had before. Your investment in learning some theory now puts some incredibly useful musical tools at your disposal. 

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Music Theory You Need, Especially if You Don't Read: Put it to Work

Music Theory You Need, Especially if You Don't Read: Guitar Chords

September 26, 2018 1 Comment

As we have outlined music theory for non-reading musicians in our previous article, you have learned your key signatures and the diatonic scales and chords that comprise them. In this article, we will use that knowledge to find our way around the fretboard, creating new chords from scratch in seconds. Let's get started!

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Music Theory You Need, Especially if You Don't Read: All About Keys

Music Theory You Need, Especially if You Don't Read: All About Keys

August 24, 2018 2 Comments

Even if your band plays exclusively by ear, you won't last long if you don't understand Key theory. The first step is understanding there are twelve keys in Western music (plus three enharmonic keys that are sonically identical to one of the twelve). Each of these keys can be understood as a group of notes that share a common tonality. Can you say, "Plays well with others?" In order to have any idea which notes to play in a given piece of music, you need to know the diatonic scales and chords that make up that particular key. But how do we determine which scales and chords belong together? With the road map that follows, you will be well equipped to navigate without ending up in the wrong key.

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Music Theory You Need, Especially if You Don't Read - Counting Time

Music Theory You Need, Especially if You Don't Read: Counting Time

August 17, 2018 2 Comments

Learning to read music isn't especially difficult when compared with the skill, knowledge, and nuances required to play a musical instrument. Primarily it is a skill developed by practice and repetition, accompanied by a knowledge of the necessary music theory to understand it. Nevertheless, there are vast cohorts of musicians that eschew reading, preferring to play by ear. Depending on your style and background, you may be one of the many great musicians who have learned to play entirely by ear or who use written music as a transcription and study tool, but not during live performance. But having an understanding of the underlying theory is essential to communicating with other musicians in all styles. This series will cover the basic essential music theory you will need to function with competence even if you never learn to read music.

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Five Simple Studio Tips

Five Simple Studio Tips

August 02, 2018 5 Comments

The recording studio is a different beast than the stage in many ways. You are often paying for your time there, and as such, and are expected to come prepared and work efficiently (unless, of course, you have a home studio or your label is paying for your album to be made).  But whether you are a studio veteran or a new musician, there are certain things to keep in mind to help your studio experience go as smoothly as possible.

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