Brad Paisley

Right now, I know it seems like this blog is all over the place, guitars, rock music and now I’m throwing in some country music?!?!?! Well it’s about to get a whole lot crazier once I throw in Latin, Bluegrass, Classical, maybe a little hip hop and metal.

I wanted to talk about Brad Paisley here, he is one of my favourite current country stars. I like his songs from the cheesy, funny Cigar Song to the heartbreaking Whiskey Lullaby with Alison Krauss to the real reason I think he is great Nervous Breakdown. He can write a song and he can solo like no one else. I know a lot of shredders turn to metal and play as fast as possible but Brad can craft a solo and play just as fast.

Paisley with his Paisley Guitar

Paisley with his Paisley Guitar

Hey! Look! It’s a telecaster!!

I know I’m a bit late on this but I really like his latest album This is Country Music. It really takes a lot from 70s country music, and even features Alabama and a song called Eastwood. Great album and probably one of my favourite overall albums in country music. I love Westerns and western music and someday soon I going to throw down some Marty Robbins, but until then I put down my top 5 Brad Paisley songs.

I am putting some videos in so you can see the awe.

1. Nervous Breakdown – This is all instrumental but it shows how well Paisley can pick

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7y-Ipi1dnng

2. Whiskey Lullaby – Very sad and a great song

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IZbN_nmxAGk&ob=av3e

3. Old Alabama – Featuring Alabama enough said

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZDRfrVMrV6Q&ob=av3e

4. Online – Pretty accurate reflection of who you are probably talking to in a chat room

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UE6iAjEv9dQ&ob=av3e

5.Throttleneck – another instrumental picking song, it reminds me of ghost riders in the sky. If you don’t

know that song go ahead and look up the Johnny Cash version.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6kwufHazaTU

On good Morning America; all pictures from Bradpaisley.com

good_morning_america-paisley and alabama

Good Morning America Brad Paisley and Alabama from Brad Paisley.com

Here is a great video of him playing in the White House for Barack Obama on the American Music series they had at the White House.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WCvUy540I7o

Against the Blue Wall – Epiphone MB200 Banjo

Now, I love guitar, but I also love banjos, violins, basses and other stringed instruments. My Banjo is an Epiphone MB200 which is just a step up from the other entry level banjos. It has a mahogany resonator and neck and a rosewood finger board, nothing out of the ordinary. I personally am a maple fan but you really can’t beat it for the price. It is a lightweight instrument mainly because of the aluminum tone ring, which makes the sound more tinny sounding.  This unfortunately makes it top heavy and a little awkward to play because it has a tendency to dip down. However next time I will probably get a Deering. I have done a few minor upgrades like changing the bridge which have definitely made a difference in tone.

Banjo Head Stock

Banjo Head Stock

I’m still an beginning player, but there are a few things I can say about it. First replace that bridge. I used to get this buzzing sound on the 5th string because I play clawhammer. The first thing I noticed about the tone was that a banjo is loud and twangy. This was one of the reasons that Jass (old time spelling of jazz) bands of the 1920s used banjos a lot and significantly more than guitars, which couldn’t hold their own that well.

Now one thing you have to understand is that I am a guitar player, who went to banjo, and I’m trying to get more into the banjo style but it takes time. I have to say if you like Irish, bluegrass, country or Old time music, the banjo is a worthwhile investment. I am hella glad I bought one.

Significant differences between 5 string banjo and guitar

-open tuning, I use G. If you are a guitarist try playing in open tuning a bit to get the feel of it. I am very                 surprised at how many musicians and guitarist have little to no idea of what open tuning is. If                              you don’t know go google it, or maybe one day I’ll make a post about it.

-high string (drone string) is at the bottom

– all about pickin’

-2 main styles scruggs/bluegrass and clawhammer

-strings vibrate on a taut head

Now the banjo came over from Africa during the 18th and 19th centuries. There is a good Bela Fleck documentary where he goes to try to find the origin of the banjo and the way that is it played in different tribes. For a long time it was much more popular than the guitar because bending those guitar sides is hard and costly. Now it is a lot easier but guitars really didn’t catch on until after WW2. Anyway banjos were also cheap to make and you could make one on your own so you didn’t have to buy one. It became the instrument of the poor and of folk music. The banjo is currently experiencing a revival in indie and Americana music. Pretty much my favourite styles.

Epiphone Banjo

Epiphone Banjo- I don't think you can see it on this photo but I do have some wear on the head. Makes me Proud.

Unlike my guitars this is the first banjo I have ever owned and I like playing but there are some things that I would like to see in my next banjo.

1. Maple Neck

2. better tuners and hardware

3. wooden or brass tone ring

4.  Probably no resonator or if it does have a resonator it should because easily removable and not full of sharp unfinished edges like mine right now

What is your dream banjo? if you are a guitarist would you start playing banjo?

Telecasters

I can’t believe I have gone this many posts and I have only talked about telecasters once.  The Telecaster was the first guitar I bought where I felt like I really purchased a great guitar. I put so much effort into thinking about and selecting it, and now the research on a guitar is one of my favourite parts of the process.

Deluxe Telecaster

Deluxe Telecaster image from Fender.com

A brief history of the telecaster:

When Leo Fender started he was experimenting with mass producing guitars and solid bodies. He was a loyal country western fan and he wanted to make a guitar that could reach loud volumes and wouldn’t be plagued with the awful feedback that hollow body guitars give when they have a single coil pick up attached. He started out with a prototype of what is now called a Telecaster, but then it was called a broadcaster. Country players loved it and still continue to use it. Leo changed the name because Gretsch guitars had a model called the Broadkaster and so Leo changed the name to Telecaster. However instead of renaming it immediately he scratched of broadcaster and that era of tele production have been called the nocaster. There is a whole lot of reissuing of telecasters since it is the 60th anniversary, and there are tweaks and modifications but mostly the telecaster has remained constant since 1951 when it was released.

Famous Telecaster Players

-Keith Richards (Sometimes he uses a Gibson ES-355 but usually a tele player)

-Merle Haggard (He has one of the nicest custom guitars, although I don’t think they let you play electric in bluegrass)

-Brad Paisley (Has a Paisley pink Tele and it don’t matter, He is my Favourite Country Picker and soloist)

-Andy Summers (I know he is always seen with a red strat like Mark Knopfler but he is a tele man)

-Bruce ”The Boss” Springsteen, butterscotch blonde

-Albert Lee, I think he uses a music man now

-Waylon Jennings, and outlaw with a tele, don’t fuck with him

-Joe Strummer, I will stand by Sandanista!

-Jeff Buckley, Hallelujah

-John 5, Yeah you can use them for metal too

-A whole bunch of other guitarists, who know what’s what

 

Squire Telecaster

Squire Telecaster by Fender Image from Fender.com

 

Features:

-2 single coil pickups ( there are versions with a humbucker at the neck end but If I want a humbucking guitar I wouldn’t buy a tele)

-No contours in the body (that update was left for the Stratocaster)

-Astray Bridge ( Now I know a real tele player will stay true and stick with the ashtray bridge and the 3 saddle. I didn’t do that. I used to play a strat and I like the 6 saddle bridge. This is one of the reasons I got the 2010 updated Telecaster. It’s just the way I like to play)

-3 way Pickup selector (keeping it easy, Bridge, Bridge + Neck and Neck)

Types of Telecasters

  1. Squire- Good starter Tele and if you want to get in to modifications it’s a good one to buy because the biggest variation is in the hardware, rip out those stock pickup and put in some ’52 vintage style ones. It’ll make it sound a hell of a lot nicer. $230
  2. Standard- just like it sounds it’s the baseline tele nothing fancy. Made in Mexico $500
  3. Baja- Still has the old 3 saddle bridge and a great sandy beige finish. It has some nice vintage broadcaster pickups and a little shorter nut width- $800
  4. Road Worn- If you want to look worn out but you don’t want to put the time into it you can opt for a pre worn guitar. I think the fret board feels like sandpaper and the store I tried it at had these rusty strings on, so I didn’t care for it, but they have been getting very popular. $900

 

I know for sure everything from here on is Made in the USA and if that is important to you then you better start here and expect to spend at least $800 and that is all over the guitar universe

 

  1. American Special- Entry level American Made, 3 saddle bridge and Texas special pickups $850
  2. American Standard- This is what I have, it’s hard to distinguish between the subtlety but later on ill share why I chose this one $1000
  3. American Deluxe- A step up from the standard and from what I can tell it always has a cream binding running around the body, and they also put on the noiseless pickups so you don’t get that 60v hum, which depending on the player you may love it or hate it $1700
  4. Custom-sky is the limit and so is the price, probably starts at $2800

 

Telecaster with black pick guard

Telecaster with black pick guard

When I was choosing my tele the thing that stood out to me most was the neck and the fretboard. For the most part they are alder or ash bodies, urethane finish and incrementally better pickup quality. The Fingerboard on the worn I already talked about but the American special wasn’t as fast at the American standard. The frets weren’t as clean and I didn’t like the feel. The Standard and squire necks are similar but they didn’t have the consistency that the American had and I could feel the frets too much when I ran my hand along neck. Three main things about the American standard, low action but not so low it feels like they forgot to put a nut in and the maple frets and fretboard finish. I liked the way it is set up because it was set up correctly. I didn’t have to adjust a thing it was throttleneck right out of the case. The finish makes for a very comfortable play and the frets had a lot of finishing and attention paid to them. Now the American deluxe I probably would have liked as well but it’s a sizeable jump and the telecaster I got was not a floor display. It was straight from Fender.

Now I specifically chose the 6 saddle bridge because I like resting my hand on the side, especially when I am doing some picking. My hand kept getting in the way of the 3 saddle bridge and I kept muting all of the strings. I’m sure I could have changed my style but 12 years of playing. I think I know what I like.

So if you want to buy a telecaster (and there are other tele style guitars) I would go with Fender. I know after buying any expensive item you think, did I just make a good purchase? In this case I would say damn right you did. I have never regretted spending $1000 on a guitar, but I also play every day and it took me 11 years to buy a guitar worth more than a few hundred dollars.

Would you chose a tele over any other guitar? Which tele would you choose?

baja Telecaster

Baja Telecaster image from Fender.com

 

Against the Blue Wall – Taylor DN3e

I love electric guitars, but some times plugging that amp is so time consuming, those heavy patch chords and pedals. It can take minutes to set everything up. Then there is the tuning.

So with my acoustic guitars I just have to open up that case and then I can start tuning right away. It took me a long time to find this guitar. Four months of travelling up to Wheaton, MD and the longest escalator in the world. I played Martins, Guilds and Eastmans. I played some Gibsons and if they weren’t out of my range I may have gotten one, but the guitar that stole my heart a Taylor. My only real criteria was a solid top and solid sides and back, and make sure you don’t mind going over your initial price. I thought $600 to $1000, but I wasn’t impressed until I played a Taylor, more specifically that DN3e.

The guitar is a loud dreadnought and clear. It has all the highs I want but if you are looking for a warm low sounding guitar I would probably go for a Martin. What really sold me on the Taylor was the neck, its the part of the guitar Taylor has poured so much time and research into and its worth it.  It it fast and smooth and I love a maple fret board but this black ebony is beautiful. I know this is at the lower end of the Taylor series but I think it is a work of art. I think also for its price it is worth it. Street price is $1400 with electronic system.

I got the internal pickups/pre-amp system and its worth it too. I haven’t used it to play live but it makes life a little bit easier when you want to record.

Taylor against a blue Wall

Taylor DN3 against a blue Wall

Some more close up shots

DN3e Bridge

DN3e Bridge

Pick up system

Pick up system

Pick up system

Just three dials Volume,  Bass and Treble. No build in tuner but by now you’ve learned how to do it by ear, you musical bastard.

Headstock Shot

Taylor Headstock

Taylor Headstock

The tuners are amazing they will keep this guitar in tune for months and they have a nifty shine to them.

 

They Might Be Giants. Nov 26th, 2011 930 Club

If you are in the DC area on Nov. 26th and have a thing for band who have released 10 or more albums and goofy, intelligent lyrics, may I recommend They Might Be Giants. I have been a fan of theirs for a long time and one of biggest regrets was not seeing them when they played a free concert on the steps of the then under construction Portrait Gallery. Now I have a change to pay them and see them in concert.

I recommend their new album Join Us, it has the sound we all have come to know and love. I also hope they play new album and older stuff because I don’t really want to go to a kids concert, but I think they will know their crowd. I know this concert will be a lot better than the most recent concert I went to at the 930 club, Robert Randolph. He is a great performer, I just had no idea it was a jam band. I was expecting this awesome soul and r and b, but it was jamming for 15-20 minutes at a time. Groovy.

They Might Be Giants are much more my speed, in Fact, I would say they are one of the most influential bands for me in my writing. Which if you would like to check out is in an earlier post under the category My Music.

Here is a pic of a younger TMBG

They Might Be Giants

They Might Be Giants, Are they really giants? Image from omahype.com

Put a little Birdhouse in your Soul – John Linnell and John Flansburgh

T-Guitars

I have been looking at boutique and handmade guitars for some time now and there are 2 that really catch my eye. Teuffel guitars and Teye guitars. I think Teuffel has amazing and interesting designs for guitars. There is some interesting philosophy there, contour hugging bodies and tone bars. The birdfish model i think is the most radical and if I had to pick one of them it would be this one. It’s like having a lego set as a guitar. You can switch out Tone bars so create different resonances and the boutique pick ups are beautiful. I’m sure they sound amazing and if I had the chance so I would test one out in a heartbeat.

The Tesla model looks like how I really want my Steinberger to feel.  That smooth feel and look, and it probably plays like a dream. To me it looks kind of like a Rickenbacker body but updated for 2000s. I’m not hinting that ricks are UN-stylish but they have a certain 60s feel that is unshakable.

The only thing I have a problem with is that headless neck. so that is why I would probably go for the Niwa. One question I have is whether the pickups on the nista model are encased in wood? because I love that earth feel.

But now I have to get serious. Pirate guitars and Gypsy electric. If I were to buy boutique it would be Teye guitars. They have a charm that is unparalleled. Made in Texas by a Dutchman. If I played with a band, instead of jamming in my apartment with the mic on. I would use one of these for shows. I love that he details the specs for his first guitar on a napkin and them posts the napkin for all to sort of read. I have outfitted my Tele with a new pick guard, but I have to say I was kinda going for these guitars.

http://www.teuffel.com/index.htm

http://teye-guitars.com/teyeguitars/

Adventure Songs

So I have mentioned that I have written a few songs, and I have them up on MySpace. My name there is the Rockridge Railroad Rider. I like the Old Time Sound to it and dig the alliteration. I wrote and recorded Afterlife, Emergency, Heist! and Thieves. I will be recording some other versions of them too, with more instruments and processing. Right now I’ve just been using a little Zoom H1 which is great for music recordings and recording your boss to make sure he sticks to his word.

I used a Talyor DN3e in case anyone is wonder the guitar I used. It’s a lot better than my beat up Kay, with a floating neck, but that is another post.

Here is the link

http://www.myspace.com/572609954

I also have the same things up on Sound Cloud but that is for the birds. I ain’t dealing with that site no more.