Fender and Gibson – NAMM (National Association of Music Merchants)

I have been browsing through The Music Zoo NAMM blog and I have found one of the best examples of why Fender is awesome. They premiered the Fender voyager series and it looks great. I think it’s a testament to Fender, that in an age where vintage guitars are the holy grail, they can make a totally new design and make it great. I am referencing the Gibson Dusk Tiger which looks like a space alien took over a Les Paul but not in a good way. There is another thing Gibson did that I know KISS fans all over love but I think it looks insane, the Budokan Ace Frehley Guitar. I think all the open screws on the pickups and the open humbuckers make it look too industrial. I’m sure it’s an excellent guitar but to me it just looks weird. Also they only made 150 of them. If I were to get a Les Paul it would be white and have a black pickguard and chrome hardware.

The really cool thing about the black Voyager that you see in the blog post, is that there is a pickup unter that chrome pickguard. I like the sleekness that it has. Also it appears as if they are using a Jaguar neck. The other yellow finish Voyager has a tele style pick up set up. I like the futuristic style and the body may look curiously like a firebird but I still like it.

LINKS! all from the music zoo




Also my 40th post. Thank you WordPress for alerting me.

Johnny Marr and the Jaguar

Fender® Johnny Marr Jaguar® Signature Model

Fender® Johnny Marr Jaguar® Signature Model, It's probably pretty obvuois where I got this photo from

The NAMM show recently wrapped up and as usual there were some awesome guitars, basses, amps, pro audio and so on. One that really caught my eye was the Johnny Marr Signature Jaguar. I am usually a telecaster enthusiast, but after reading about this guitar I am reall starting to appreciate and get into Jaguars and Mustangs. Of course not the cars, but the fender guitars. You can see the guitar on their website and I’ll post a link below.

Johnny Marr is an amazing guitarist. The Smiths were an outstanding band and in many ways shaped the current music scene. One of the key members was Johnny Marr. He had a very unique guitar sound. It was jangly and reverberating. He played an iconic lead and carried the rhythm. I don’t mean to undermine Andy Rourke and Mike Joyce, they were just as crucial. However, they dont currently have a signature Fender.

There are two things Marr helped to do. In a time when synth-pop reigned supreme and bands seemed to give way to solo and duo acts. He helped revitalize the popularity of the guitar. In fact the ’80s almost killed Martin guitars due to the low sales. Marr also helped bring back old styles that had fallen out of fashion in the 1960’s. Although Kurt Cobain really made the Fender Mustang popular, Marr’s Jaguar gave the Jaguar another shot.

These guitars are really cool. Leo fender was never a man to rest on his laurels and so after the stratocaster in 1954 he took some time and eventually developed the Jaguar Guitar in the 1960s. It had 2 single coil pickups, and several different knobs and switches to change the phases of the pickups, their circuit configurations and the lead or rhythm characteristics. It will never be as popular as a Strat or Tele but it’s a very interesting and one of the more advanced Fender guitars. It also had an off center waist which was another cool aesthetic feature. Finally, the Jaguar has this crazy looking tremelo system, which I personally feel that the strat tremolo was a better design but this one has stuck around. This system was touted as being a better tremolo sonically and structurally. The one thing that would piss me off is the arm sticks in between the b and e strings.

Anyway Marr’s guitar has a lot of small details that he likes in his Jaguar and like many gutiarists he has a very detailed video of the effort he put into his Jag. The biggest changes are the custom wound single coil pickups, the 4 blade pick up selector, the ’65 neck and the universal bright switch. Sounds pretty awesome. I usually have little interest in signature models, but this is one I would actually consider. Listening to how much someone cares about their instruments and the minute details really inspires.

Visit the Guitar


Diary of a Player by Brad Paisley

Brad Paisley Book cover from thelocalq.com

Brad Paisley Book cover from thelocalq.com

I recently finished this auto biography by Brad Paisley with David Wild. It is an interesting book that recounts how Paisley got to where is it today. It is a lot of memories from his youth in West Virginia, and a lot of praise for his country idols. It was a little bit of guitar talk but no where near the scale I like, which to be fair is not the reason he wrote the book. However, he did include a great story about a guitar he got from Gruhn’s Guitars, but I won’t give it away. A lot of the memories are reminiscing about his grandfather who introduced him to the guitar and his band in wheeling comprised mainly of senior citizens who knew how to play. I didn’t know much about his back story so it was cool to see how he got started, but the biography took a while to get going. He fills the ends of chapters out with quotes from other musicians who are talking about him.

The parts I really enjoyed where the ones about him in Nashville. He started out as a songwriter and eventually ended up as a performer. Also how he met his wife. Probably one of the funniest love stories I have heard.
Brad Paisley tells a lot of heartfelt stories, but it can’t help but seem like the beginning to another volume. He takes a long time detailing his early life, but then speeds through the end. Now, I can only hope that he will write a sequel or maybe something more in depth about his Nashville years and current career.  It was nice to get an insight into how Brad thinks and sees himself.
I recommend this book if you a) like Brad b) want to hear stories about awkward youth or c) like stories about young country singers.
Link posted below

Music Wood and Sustainability

Taylor against a blue Wall

Taylor DN3- This is my guitar, it is not made from Bamboo.

I love guitars, obviously, but I am also into conservation. I have been seeing a lot recently about wood conservation and most of it from guitar makers. This comes from an industry that in realy consumes a very small percentage of the world’s lumber. Consider how much lumber goes into building one house versus one guitar. Even if the wood used for guitars is much better and is hardwood, rather than soft wood. Or consider how much paper is used in a day, all of that comes from wood pulp. Maybe a good reason to go out and buy an iPad.Music Wood is a Greenpeace based organization that has joined with Fender, Gibson, Yamaha, Martin and Taylor guitars to help advocate conservation of wood. This means that the guitars are build with sustainable woods purchased from reliable dealers. I am totally in favour of this and maybe this will help change the government’s mind about taking rosewood from Gibson. I really like supporting companies that practice sustainability and really by being careful they are helping themselves in the long run. When I first saw this list I was very proud to see almost all of my instruments came from companies who were on the Music Wood list. Now if only Schecter could buy sustainable woods.

The site is good, it has a lot of articles on differences that are being made in the music industry. One feature I thought was cool is the interactive map that shows which woods come from and which woods are used on which parts of the guitar. They *are also working on a documentary, which will be out in 2012*. I think it sends out a good message. I usually am a Sierra Club and Conservation International man, but this definitely makes me like Greenpeace more. Now if only they could stop asking me for my credit card number on the street.

On the other hand I have been seeing more sustainable resource guitars and instruments. I saw a bamboo guitar and there are a lot more carbon fiber guitars coming out now. I haven’t played any bamboo ones but I have played a RainSong carbon fiber. I like it, it sounds pretty good and it is not sensitive to changes in temperature and humidity. I still like my Taylor but if I lived in Arizona i would consider it. However, I’m not ready to give up on wood.

Here are some links
Music Wood
Bamboo Guitars – Who knows?     Also bamboo is a rapidly growing grass

* I edited this thanks to Josh G. He pointed out the documentary is not out yet. So don’t fret if you thought you had missed it.


Reggae and Jimmy Cliff

I’m going to take a step into the Reggae scene for this post. Reggae has its root in R and B music and obviously Jamaica. The genre originated out of Ska, and No I will not talk about modern Ska music. Ska has a much more of a focus on brass and horns for its melody, reggae on the other hand is mostly guitar and keyboard based. The keyboard is usually an organ sound and it has this nice bubbly sound that keeps the music going. The guitar is usually bright and staccato. The beat usually on the 2 and 4 beat. This makes the time signature most commonly 4/4. Like most popular genres. Any way the beat it called a shank. This is a reggae specific term for the upbeat on the 2 and 4 counts. The guitar and organ are crucial parts but without bass your reggae is nothing, and you can’t just throw in a bass lines that plays the root notes. That’s flat and boring. The bass has to walk and jump around. It creates the melody. I personally think reggae has some of the most interesting bass lines out of any genre (old school R and B is the other great bass genre). The importance of bass is overshadowed in so many genres, but here it has a chance to shine. Enough theory already.

Most people know about Bob Marley, Peter Tosh and The Wailers. They really popularized reggae and brought it off of the Island. However, favorite Reggae singer is Jimmy Cliff. According to Wikipedia he is more popular for his movie appearance in The Harder They Come than for his music, which I think is a shame. He has a great tenor voice and has written songs addressing everything from love to protests.

Jimmy Cliff playing a classical guitar. Shirtless men Count on this blog: 2 courtesy of Last.fm

Jimmy Cliff playing a classical guitar. Shirtless men Count on this blog: 2 (Courtesy of Last.fm)

Jimmy started out in the early sixties when the ska and reggae movements were just starting. His early hits include” Hurracane Hattie” and “Miss Jamica”. In these early hits you can really heard the stomping, driving ska beat that was so typical of the genre. His later hits include, “Hard Road to Travel” and “Vietnam”. The song “Vietnam” which came out in 1970, was very popular and Bob Dylan even called it one of the best protest songs. That in itself is an honor, coming from Mr. Times they are a changing. Later hits were a cover of John Nash’s “I Can See Clearly Now” and he performed a version of “Hakuna Matata”. I remember hearing his version of “I Can See Clearly Now” when I was young, but I realized who he was only much later. Jimmy released Sacred Fire recently. It is an EP and has a cover of The Guns of Brixton, a great Clash song.

I have a few of my Favourite Jimmy Cliff songs below. I think he is a great way to get into reggae, especially older reggae. Along with Jimmy I do like John Holt, Toots and The Maytals and Desmond Dekker (in Ob-La-Di Ob- La- Da Desmond with a  barrow in the marketplace refers to Desmond Dekker).

Jimmy is still playing and going strong, on his site you can he him singing a few songs on TV.

The Harder They Come




I Can See Clearly Now


Struggling Man


Hard Road to Travel


Interesting fact: Jimmy Cliff is the only living musician with the Jamaican Order of Merit and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2010.

http://www.jimmycliff.com/ Jimmy’s Home page

This should be a good starting point, for Jimmy Cliff and for Reggae music, unless you are already into it. Then I have just provided some handy links.

Jimmy Cliff looking stylish. From Allstarpics.net

Jimmy Cliff looking stylish. From Allstarpics.net