I’m having a dry week. I want to post some stuff, but I just don’t have the motivation or don’t really know what to write about. So here is something that has been sitting in my drafts for like a year.
Here is a guitar technique that I stumbled across while browsing some YouTube videos called double down up. It is sort of a switch-up for alternate picking (down up, down up) that you can use when skipping strings. Instead of following the down up pattern when you skip down one string you want to use two down picks and then pick the second string up again.
Once you build up some speed it can be a really great sounding technique as is shown in this video. The first half is really show as he shows the technique, but if you skip to the 3/4 mark you can hear it in action.
I think this guy totally over does it, but if you were to master this and just toss it in for a few notes every once and a while it is one of those tricks that could really make your playing stand out from others.
Eric Clapton’s 2007 Crossroads Guitar Festival started at roughly 11:45 today in Chicago. If you were not lucky enough to get tickets in the 10 minutes between the time they went on sale and were sold out you can watch it live for free on MSN. Click the image above to go to the stream page on MSN.com.
Just a note… this is currently only streaming in some kind of Microsoft compatible format. This stream didn’t work on my girlfriends Mac or on my computer running Kubuntu. You seem to have to watch it on Windows in Internet Explorer. If you try from a different OS or browser it just gives you a message saying the Flash version will be available later.
Unless you have been living under a rock for the past few months you should already know about the Crossroads Guitar Festival. The concert is featuring a handful of famous guitar players in support of Eric Clapton’s Crossroads Antigua drug and alcohol rehab center. Crossroads, created by Clapton in 1997, was originally intended to help support people from the island of Antigua and the Caribbean who wanted to overcome their substance addictions. The center is now internationally recognized as a Treatment Center of Excellence.
Many guitarists are playing at the festival to raise awareness about substance addiction. Artists on the block include Jeff Beck, Cheryl Crow, Robert Cray, Buddy Guy, BB King, Los Lobos, John Mayer, Willie Nelson, Eric Clapton himself, and many more.
Crate has just released the first Amp with a USB port and it’s looking pretty enticing. This thing is seriously packed with a lot of crap (good crap I mean). First off it is a stereo mini five-watt amp. Thats right, I said stereo. This eight-inch tall, six-pound bad boy comes packed with two four-inch speakers. This sucker blows away all of the other guys mini amps.
Crate packed in gain, delay, and a slew of effects including chorus, flange, auto wah, and reverb. The effects are always fun to play with, but usually end up going unused in actual playing, well except for maybe reverb.
On the back side we have a mini-jack for headphones and a mini-jack for audio input (usually used to connect a CD player or mp3 player). The unit uses a 9-volt battery for portable power or there is also a jack for a 9-volt 700mA AC adapter. I couldn’t determine whether or not the AC adapter was included in the package or optional. Usually if it is extra they will mention that and nowhere I read said it was optional, so I would be inclined to believe it was included in the cost. The adapter is included with the amp.
The real standout feature (if all of the above was not enough) is the fact that this amp is the first ever to have an integrated USB port. Bundled with the included Mackie Tracktion recording software you have a portable guitar recording device with built in effects. Basically what we have here is a POD sans a few effects and models, but with stereo speakers. I would hope you would be able to record with whatever software you like… but that is not certain.
Crate Profiler Model 5 Amp Feature Set:
Stereo 2×4″ speakers
5-watts of power
8″ tall weighing less than 6lbs
Stereo DSP including Chorus, Flange, Wah and Tremolo
Separate Delay, Reverb and 3-band EQ
USB port for computer recording
Includes Mackie Tracktion 2 Recording Software for recording USB output
Headphone output mini-jack
CD/mp3 player input mini-jack
Powered by 9-volt battery or AC adapter
Includes AC adapter (Thanks Dustin for the tip!)
So what is this going to set you back? Well Musicians Friend has them listed for $159.99USD and you can pre-order them today! The first batch of orders will ship August 7th, 2007. If they get too many orders you may have to wait for their 2nd shipment.
I have been looking into a computer recording device lately. I have been weighing the options from manufacturers like Line 6. Looks like I might have a new option to consider.
If anyone knows whether the AC adapter is included or not, please let me know.
It looks like Seymour Duncan is looking to move in to steal some of EMG’s active pickup market with their new Blackout pickups. I only say that because they are active pickups and they look exactly like EMGs, complete with the metallic logo in the bottom right hand corner.
Blackouts are a new set of 9-volt active pickups from Seymour Duncan. Before starting their design the company did some research and claims to have found a a fundamental flaw in the design of the circuitry that causes signal compression and a loss of frequency response. They concluded the problem was the use of an unbalanced differential preamp. Therefore, in Duncan’s design they use balanced inputs which made Blackouts 14dB quieter than EMGs the competitors. As a result they claim you get more lows, more highs, more output, and less hum.
They do their regular round of name dropping to promote the product, citing players who have switched to Blackouts like Mick Thompson of Slipknot, Corey Beaulieu of Trivium, and Mike Schleibaum of Darkest Hour. To be fair, I’m pretty sure these guys were all already Seymour Duncan artists… so it’s not like they jumped over from “the other guys”.
Blackouts are already available for purchase. The neck and bridge pickups will be sold individually and in a two-pickup matched set. Battery life is 1420 hours for one pickup, or divide that by two for a set of pickups.
I Love my EMG 81/85 active pickups, but I have always wanted to try some Seymour Duncans. I think this is probably where I would start.
Here is some news for the locals. The Calgary International Blues Festival is happening here in town from the 23rd to the 28th of August. There will be quite a few big names at the show including Edgar Winter Band, Rick Derringer Band, Kinsey Report, Alberg Cummings, and Jimmy Bowskill to name a few.
Tickets are kind of steep for a 1 day pass at $50. If you are really into it and you want to get the full 4 day pass it’ll cost you $140. I may hit it up for one day, but I would have to decide on a day first. I think out of any of the days I would want to go on the 23rd to see Rick Derringer, Edgar Winter, and Jimmy Bowskill.
Anyway, if you are in the area and love blues, check out the Calgary Bluesfest website for more details.
This is a pretty amazing video I just found. I believe this was for Young Guitar Magazine. Usually when the guitar masters show us their signature techniques they don’t really go into much detail. In this video Dimebag goes into perfect detail how he plays harmonics and how he does those crazy squealing dive bombs like at the end of Cemetery Gates.
Basically in his technique he flicks the string with his left hand, dives with the whammy, and then hits a natural harmonic on the way back up. It seems so simple, but seeing Dime do it close up is just magical.
Alexi Laiho uses this technique in his playing as well.