Thursday, April 28, 2011

Super-Vee BladeRunner - Product Review

Super-Vee tremolo on the left,Fender tremolo on the right
  When one of my customers brought in a Super-Vee BladeRunner tremolo to install on his Fender Stratocaster,I THOUGHT I was going to tell you how easy it was to install and share some impressions of the piece. What I got was a good example of how sometimes,even something "easy" to install, is better off left to your local guitar tech...

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

This Weeks Best Guitar Cds - Week of 04/26/2011

Bill Frisell - Sign Of Life,Music for 858 Quartet
  Anyone wonder why Frisell left Nonesuch records,his former label? It would seem that although Nonesuch offered great distribution and quality packaging,they limited him to one release a year. In case you haven't noticed,Bill is on an artistic tear,an absolute deluge of a musical downpour. Already hinted at by his still ongoing "Live Download" series,available on his website, the increased output officially started with last years wonderful "Beautiful Dreamers",his Savoy Records debut. That was followed by "Lagrimas Mexicanas",his duo album with Vinicius Canturia and his appearance on Buddy Millers "The Majestic Strings". Barely more than six months after "Beautiful Dreamers" comes "Sign Of Life",his reunion with the 858 Quartet,a group named after and originally convened to perform music inspired by a series of abstract paintings by Gerhard Richter. (Sure,lots of people can write soundtracks for movies,Frisell is the guy you call if you need a soundtrack for abstract art!) The quartet,in addition to Bill, are made up of Hank Roberts on cello,Eyvind Kang on viola and Jenny Schienman on violin,all of whom have a long relationship with Frisell. The music was written by Bill in a month long period he spent in Vermont,the first time Frisell has taken that amount of time just to write music. The compositions,made up of brief melodic ideas, are passed back and forth from instrument to instrument with uncanny dexterity and ease. I've wondered for years why more reviewers don't make the connection between Frisell and the minimalist composers. (Must be too difficult after moving Bill from the "ECM Jazz guy" box into the "Americana guy" box to give much thought to the likes of Terry Riley or Steve Reich.) Perhaps the more traditionally classical format of a string quartet of sorts will make the similarities more apparent. More than any other musician I can think of,Frisell has a way of finding fellow musicians who just "get it". This music is so cohesive and logical while still retaining the near mind reading so important to improvisational music. Just as "Beautiful Dreamers" was the best thing put out in 2010,with even more music on the way later this year, Bill Frisell may have done it again for 2011.

Wait,don't go away yet!! There's still plenty more Cd reviews below,including more guitar/cello jazz,blues both new and old and a little mambo on the side...

Friday, April 22, 2011

Bill Frisell's 858 Quartet - New album soon,new video NOW!

Bill Frisell's 858 Quartet has a new album coming out next week. Can you guess what Cd will be at the top of the "Best Guitar Cds of the Week" article? The quartet reunites some of Bill's "regulars"; Hank Roberts on cello, Eyvind Kang on viola and Jenny Scheinmann on violin. Check out the awesome looking Telecaster style guitar Bill is playing! Tele style body but with what looks like a one piece mahogany neck with a three on a side headstock. Are those Jason Lollar pickups? Looks like a Lollar Charlie Christian in the neck and a Lollar B.S. in the bridge. What ever they are,they sound great. Here's a 13 minute video with music and brief interviews:

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Chuck Hall Band at the Glendale Jazz and Blues Festival

   I'll be sharing a few pictures from the Glendale Jazz and Blues Festival this past April 9th and 10th. I worked on Saturday so I missed the bands during the day but rushed right over after work to catch the two closers. Here are a few photos I took while enjoying Chuck Hall and his band. Chuck always impresses me every time I see him. He has the touch,tone and dynamics many other guitarists only dream of. If you're new to Chuck Hall,do yourself a favor and check him out.You can download his most recent offering at and check out his website at

Chuck Hall. Also,perhaps the only evidence of Chuck's drummer you'll find here. You want pictures of drummers? Start your own blog.

There may also have been a bassist.

Chuck's rig.
Chuck's Telecaster. Flame bridge and control plate. Double humbucker. Sweet.
Chuck's Stratocaster. Green flame over pearl white. Clear pickguard to show off the Fender logo. Metal volume knob for better grip. Tastefully hidden electronics. Nice.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

This Weeks Best Guitar Cds - Week of 04/19/2011

Brian Setzer - Setzer Goes Instru-MENTAL!
   Can this really be Brain Setzers first all instrumental album? It's kind of strange to realize that someone so identified as a "guitar guy" hasn't put out a collection of instrumentals yet,but here it is just the same. The man who could have been relegated to one hit wonder status for the Stray Cats has simply refused to stop making good music. The man manages to tie together punk and rockabilly with zoot-suit attitude that's not a costumed contrivance,then mash it up with a big band jazz orchestra and Christmas tunes! What's the one thing that makes this all work? His guitar. The only thing strange about a Setzer instrumental album is that it hasn't happened sooner. This collection acts as a kind of road map to how he arrived at his diverse style. The influence of Les Paul makes more than one appearance. "Blue Moon of Kentucky" show how country and rockabilly are really just next door neighbors. "Earl's Breakdown" is a fine reminder that a Scruggs style banjo lick or two has made it into the repertoire of many a guitarist."Be-Bop-A-Lula" is a natural choice, and Setzer gives the Gene Vincent tune his own flavor. There are also some originals mixed in with the classics and "Go Go Godzilla" finds Setzer almost,dare I say,heavy in a garage rock way. Setzer has never been stingy with great guitar moments throughout his career but this is a treat to finally get the full on guitar extravaganza I didn't realize I'd been waiting for!

Plenty more guitar Cd reviews below,including the guitar player from A Prairie Home Companion,some French black metal and some impossible to categorize music from the country of Niger...

Friday, April 15, 2011

Ibanez Model 308 student classical guitar.

Ibanez Model 308
   Here's a pretty humble but interesting offering for you. Ibanez guitars are very popular so I see lots of them in the shop,from vintage models in for a tune up to current models in to be setup in the M# or drop Z tuning the kids seem to like so much. What I don't remember seeing before is a vintage classical from Ibanez. This Ibanez Model 308 passed through the shop for a restring. This is definitely a student model. It features a laminate top and that evergreen classic of budget guitar labels,the "steel reinforced neck". To be fair,a truss rod on a nylon string is not traditional. They did choose to break classical guitar tradition by putting side dots (painted,not inlaid) on the neck. The rosette is a decal,common enough for a student model. The biggest indicator that this was a low priced model is the blatant file marks left on the frets from the leveling process. It looks like very little effort was made to clean them up,but does indicate that the frets were leveled,something that not all budget guitars receive. Overall,this was a nice little guitar that I would have been pleased to find at a yard sale or thrift store instead of coming into the repair shop.
  Curious to learn more about Ibanez guitars? Check out the awesome forum over at Ibanez Collectors World.

More Ibanez 308 photos,below...

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

This Weeks Best Guitar Cds - Week of 04/12/2011

Foo Fighters - Wasting Light
  While the rest of his Seattle contemporaries either took long vacations or limped along as shadows of their former big time selves,Dave Grohl's Foo Fighters have quietly remained relevant. It would seem that simply writing good songs,then having them performed by talented musicians is a bit of a novel idea these days. (Check the current top 40 if you think I'm kidding.) "Wasting Light" sees the Foo's returning to an all analog production,no computers allowed,and recording in Grohls basement. This,along with the prodigious talents of producer Butch Vig, makes for arguably the best sounding FF album to date. The songs feature some of the most hook-laden of Grohl's career. There is also a wider stylistic variety than ever. "White Limo" could be a Probot tune,while "These Days",almost a ballad,draws on the angst of past songs like "Everlong" without sounding like a copy. The guest spots are inspired,featuring the return of Pat Smear,Husker Du singer/songwriter/guitarist Bob Mould and a bass player named Krist Novoselic. (Apparently he and Grohl were in some other project together...Huh.) If you're one of those folks who thought that Foo Fightes may have been coasting a bit,"Wasting Light" shows them fully awake and ready to push themselves.

 Click below to read the most Cd reviews I've ever crammed into one week,including two Arizona favorites,an epic doom metal legend inks a deal with Metal Blade and loads of rock,jazz,classical,flamenco and more...

Monday, April 11, 2011

Slough Feg - The Animal Spirits vinyl release!

The Mike Scalzi cover art makes a fine replacement for my mug.
  Heads up,metal heads and record collectors,one of the best albums of 2010 has finally been released on genuine vinyl. In two words,it is absolutely glorious. All the things you like about records are here in abundance. Wide dynamic range,warm analog (albeit digitally sourced) sound. The LP cover retains the Mike Scalzi artwork,but looking much cooler in its new jumbo size. Mine showed up flawless and noise free. It came with a protective Mylar bag and a one sheet insert with liner notes featuring band photos and more Scalzi artwork. If you are new to Slough Feg,I would encourage you to check them out,there's not a bad album in the bunch.
We Americans can order directly from the Slough Feg website: 
If you're in Europe,try Cruz Del Sur's online store: 
Highly recommended!

Insert 01
Insert 02

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Eric and Roy Epps - Custom Guitar # 1 (Part Three)

   We've dealt with the crazy radius and super wide fret slots of our Ebay purchased,Asian made fretboard in part one, leveled the frets,customized our Tune-O-Matic bridge to fit the radius and made a nut slot in part two, so let's finish this thing already!
Read the exciting conclusion to our Father and Son tale of a custom guitar below...

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

This weeks Best Guitar Cds - Week of 04/05/2011

Hot Tuna - Steady As She Goes
   The return of Jorma Kaukonen and Jack Casady under the Hot Tuna moniker has been a long time coming. In the twenty years since releasing a Hot Tuna album,they've both released solo work and have been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame for their work in Jefferson Airplane. Live shows have reflected both their acoustic and electric past and this album has a mix of both with the songs retaining the Americana and country blues influence of early Tuna. The music of the Rev. Gary Davis has been an inspiration to Jorma and Jack from the beginning and HT returns to the well again for a cover of his "Children of Zion" in a funky shuffle style. The songs,while mostly under the five minute mark,have a loose, rollicking jam band quality to them.Recorded at Levon Helm's studio,the guitar and bass sounds have a warm and natural sound that compliments the heartfelt music wonderfully.  Kaukonen and Casady are both playing and sounding better than ever but they've brought some very able helpers along as well. Grammy Award winning producer Larry Campbell also plays organ, fiddle and guitar. Mandolin virtuoso Barry Mitterhoff is a veteran of Tony Trischka and Skyline. (As a side note, if you like amazing, rule breaking banjo, be sure to check out Tony Triscka. In addition to teaching that Bela Fleck kid a thing or two, Trischka was one of the first folks to follow me on Twitter. Thanks Tony!) Drummer Skoota Warner has a very impressive list of artists he has worked with,including Carlos Santana. I'm sure Skoota has nothing to do with Santana's recent lapse in artistic judgement. It would seem the long wait for new Tuna was worth it. This is a much welcome return of the influential two man team of Jorma and Jack.

Further reading:
You can find details of the Hot Tuna tour dates and Jorma's blog on his site.
If you'd like to hang out on Guitar Omnivore some more, you can read my review of the Epihone Jack Casady bass.
Although you could probably just scroll down to see it,you can also click on this link to last weeks Cd reviews to check out Rory Block's tribute to Rev. Gary Davis here.

Don't go away yet! Plenty more reviews of this weeks best guitar Cds below. More Rock and Roll legends, pagan black metal,some over priced import reissues and...Peter Gunn?

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Glendale 28th Annual Jazz and Blues Festival

John Abercrombie playing at Bratislava Jazz Da...Image via Wikipedia  One of my favorite things about being a Glendale Arizona resident is the annual Jazz and Blues Festival. It's a two day event with simultaneous jazz and blues stages that always has me juggling what stage I'd like to see more! The festival planners did stagger the start times this year so maybe I'll have a better time making choices this time! Between the two stages are art displays and lots of food! My past memories include Tinsley Ellis,Papa John Defrancesco,Jimmy Thackery,Charlie Musselwhite,Brian Auger Oblivion Express and last years highlight: seeing Larry Coryell,who brought along his A-list band mates Bunny Brunell and Alphonse Mouzon. I always work on Saturday,so I miss out on the afternoon bands but always head down in the evening and then make a day of it on Sunday. This years festival is on Saturday, April 9th and Sunday, April 10th and you can get details on the Glendale Jazz and Blues Festival here. This years headliners are John Abercrombie and Shemekia Copeland on Saturday with Randy Brecker and Curtis Salgado on Sunday. This festival is FREE,FREE,FREE! If you are anywhere near Arizona, you'd be crazy to miss it.

Here's a little taste of the John Abercrombie Trio:

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Fender TENOR Telecaster !!?

Fender Tenor Telecaster
  Here's a guitar I bet you've never seen before. It was custom made for one of my regulars and is a one-off custom made four string Telecaster. Let's call it a Tenorcaster! It didn't need any work,he was just bringing it in so we could see it. That's the reason for the messy bench,I was right in the middle of hottrodding a Samick HJ-650. Those are the old Samick pickups on the bench. The guitar owner says it was made by a luthier at the Fender custom shop before it officially became the custom shop as we know it today. I have no reason to doubt him and the quality of workmanship and the Music Man tuners would seem to bear this out.
Tenor Telecaster neck pocket
 I wish I had gotten better photos of the neck/body area because it is a strange one! It seems the body is totally stock,with a regular neck pocket. This is a cropped version of one of the photos,but it will have to do.The part of the neck that goes into the guitar is full size,then it tapers into a four string tenor size neck. The fingerboard over the neck pocket is skinny and the pickguard is cut to fit. The six string bridge is a top loader and the pick up is also a standard six string pickup. All in all,this is one strange but really cool bird!
A regular six string bridge...on a highly irregular guitar!