Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Amp Placement Tips With Dee Curtis,and How "Slash" Plays into this

Mark Grove

Amp Placement Tips With Dee Curtis,and How "Slash" Plays into this

Music Consultant: Dee Curtis

I talked with Dee about amp placement, and the fact it isn’t talked about or written about too often in the major music magazines, or bandied about in gear talk among musicians.

I told Dee about a recent article Slash did on just that topic, and he agreed that amp placement can sometimes be more important than mike placement. Dee went into intricate detail on Slash’s amp rig and how he actually used it.

I gave Dee some details on Slash’s little blurb on amp placement and how it helped out immensely, resulting in distorted sound that was the tits. That means incredible if you haven’t guessed. But the question is, why does where you place your amp in a room have such a huge bearing on the sound you get?

Well, I can’t tell you exactly why amp placement works well, but Slash, in his recent article in Guitar World talked about some wild distorted tones he was getting on a new track for Velvet Revolver using a Marshall—JCM 800 Half-Stack and a Slash 2555SL— Signature Amp simultaneously.

Slash didn’t talk about how he actually placed them, but the fact he had the drums and amps in another room, then decided to leave the drums in the other room and bring the amps into the main room, and use the amps at the same time. Slash said this produced some great tones he wouldn’t have gotten otherwise.

But here’s my two cents worth on the subject of amp placement. By experimentation figure out what’s best for your rig placement wise. You could move both the bass and rhythm guitar out of the room, and record your lead guitar track separately, and use your bass player’s amp and your rig at the same time by linking them together in one signal.

This may or may not work for you, but you might be able to come out with some interesting tones using Slash’s amp placement technique. I call it more of a recording technique. So, try out some different variations of placing your amps, facing each other or turned away from each other in a totally different direction. Don’t worry so much about Mic placement which most musicians and producers seem hell bent on.

The technique described above isn’t set in concrete, but don’t worry about perfection here in regard to amp placement, it’s about experimentation and recording your way.

So if your producer says to go one way and forget amp placement, go the other and just do what you want. Some types of music lend themselves to more innovation with amp placement than others, like hardcore, metal, prog and blues especially, because of it’s naturally distortive properties.

Placing amps and configuring them in creative ways can force you to think differently and not rely on mic placement, or mixing board tweaks so much,and more through organic changes in getting distortion and tones you like,will give your music the edge you never knew existed.So have fun with it.

Mark Grove--CGP www.canadianguitarplayer.com


Friday, October 13, 2017

Ernie Ball Guitar Strings and Slash--Two Innovative Cats


Ernie Ball Paradigm Strings. 

Ever use them,or any other Ernie Ball Strings? 

I'd like your thoughts on them and if you've used them for years like Slash has. It's tough at times to find a string that'll take rough playing on a string to give you the tone you're looking for when you hit that string before the Pickup takes over and gives you the tone you either want,or don't.

I'm not saying to pick up some Ernie Ball Strings because Slash uses them. Think and study strings. Yes study them. And test them out.

You're thinking,yeah Mark,they're all the friggin' same.

No they're not. Take the time and ask a local shop for samples,and test them out on your guitar. I'm not kidding.

If you're not sure what kind of guitar string you need,do some research online with Ernie Ball--and figure out what kind of strings are better for the music you play,and the type of axe and gear you use.

Yes,even when you use strings it's that vital.

I'm including a short video from Slash on the Ernie Ball Paradigm Strings he uses,and some insight from his Guitar Tech Adam Day;who's been with Slash since the late 80's. Watch the video and then research those strings you think are right for you. Don't just blindly pick them.


Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Los Angeles Based Session Guitarist Christian Zezza Is An International Player Of Many Talents:

Los Angeles Based Session Guitarist Christian Zezza Is An International Player Of Many Talents:

I've been writing for a lot of New York Session Guitar Players of late,but Los Angeles players eluded me until now.

I came across a player who's worked hard no just as a studio session player;but on guitar training videos,being an endorser of Godin Guitars,and collaborating on projects with some of LA's top studios,and acting as a consultant and session man with Indie label "New Vintage Artists" Out f San Francisco.

One thing I found with Christian is his absolute need to find out how to become a better player and mentor to other players. He attended a number of guitar clinics with top musicians like John Petrucci and Jazz guitar player Frank Gambale,along with learning from studio session guru Carl Verheyen.

Christian Zezza is a player who straddles both the online and offline world of being a session player and learn all he can to further his career as a musician. He's done more than most Session playing wise,including,working with top studios in LA like Spitfire, with Warren Huart and Phil Allen. As well as (New Vintage Artists) in San Francisco with Chuck Johnson,and even being an endorser of IK Multimedia Software,which is becoming a big player in the music software field.

I was amazed at Christian's resume as a session player in LA,and his attention to his craft more than a lot of players.

I implore you as a musician to look at Christian's Bio and what he's doing currently and previously.

In my interview with Christian Zezza I ask him specific questions on being a Session player and how you can learn from this interview and use it to fuel your career ambitions as a session player in the studio,doing live work and consulting with other players and record labels.

As well I ask him gear questions and how he uses them to effectively get through session work projects. Take notes guys and learn from Christian.  Whether you’re a guitar just starting out,or you’re in the studio and need to learn a little more on what studios,labels and bands really want from your playing.

You can see Christian's bio and other aspects of his career at: www.christianzezza.it

I'll have the link to Christian's site at the bottom of the interview as well.

CGP: What kind of session work do you get more than others Christian?

CZ Along the years I got hired for many different sessions: demos, jingles and commercials, singer/songwriters albums, musicals for theatre, etc.

I frequently get hired by singer/songwriters who need to create a "stesure" of their ideas and to dress their songs with the most well fitting guitar work. Most of them are great writers but not excellent players, or sometimes they are super talented in both ways. My role is always the same, trying to record the right part with the right tone with the right feeling. Sometimes there is an arranger so you have to follow all the guidelines, sometimes they're independent artists and you can work with them on the guitar ideas, sometimes you are absolutely free. It's always different.

CGP:What I mean is the type of music? Or do you get commercial jingle work as well?

CZ I've done lot of commercial jingle sessions, and I love it, it's really fun and more simple than a complete arrangement for a real song, at least to me. That's probably because I grew up recording my very short sample ideas, which were pretty much like jingles for advertisements so that's why that's something in my dna.

When doing Session work,and I've never asked a guitar player this; Do you always have to have your own gear,or do some studios or bands have you use theirs,just to see how well you do,or they want continuity in their tone?

CZ:It depends. If the project you're hired for has specific tone requests you have to respect it, for ex.: it's maybe better not to go to a 70' pop/rock style session with a 7 strings metal guitar tone, right? :)

What Guitars and gear are using mainly for Session Work?

Gear you use:Guitar,strings,amps,effects pedals and any outboard gear. 

Guitars: My collection is pretty wide and diverse depending on a client and their specific requests; I can use Strats,Telecasters,Les Pauls,335's etc. If I have to name some specific brands the "classics" are always there with--Fender,Gibson,Music Man,Ibanez,Martin. Plus I endorse a couple of international guitar brands which I use constantly,and are my mainstays for guitar work;Godin Guitars for electric work,and Eko guitars for acoustic work. 

Same for amps, Better having the closest tone as possible according to the sound of the artist. The reality is that there are no rules, especially in the studio is always an experimental work in progress.
If I have to say the only one thing that can run a successful guitar session, is to bring with you some of yours reliable guitars in term of tuning stability, playability, low noise etc. ... oh, and a tuner!!

Strings: Ernie Ball 10/46 or 11/52 for electric guitars - Elixir 11/52 for acoustic guitars

Amps:  Same for guitars, along the years I went through a lot of different amps, cabinets, speakers etc.. What I love is a tube clean tone amp, possibly with a nice overdrive channel;and  I found the best of both worlds on the Laney VH100 head into a 1x12 cabinet loaded with Celestion Vintage 30 speaker. Also, with the help of some pedals, I can cover pretty much all the classic guitar tones out there.

Pedals: My main pedal board is really compact, user friendly but works great; the guitar signal enters into a custom made buffer (to let the signal clean along all the path), then tuner, compressor, clean boost, over drive 1, over drive 2, volume pedal, phaser, tremolo, chorus, delay/reverb.

Great signal chain advice from Christian above here!

Outboard/Studio Gear: I use outboards mainly for the studio recording. I have a home studio in LA, which is the same gear of my previous home studio in Italy. I use Yamaha D-Pre as mic pre's, very very clean and "in your face" mic preamps. As a converter I use a TC Electronic interface. Logic Pro X and Protools DAW's. Also, I collaborate with Ik Multimedia, an international software house for Music Production. I use tons of their products, plugins, hardware etc. I'm in love with their studio monitors "iLoud Micro Monitors"...they sound incredible, since I got them, I haven't turned on my Yamaha HS50 anymore! ;)

Do you think that it's better for a session player to have short samples of their work mainly when promoting themselves online?

CZ:Absolutely. These days everything is online, mainly the self promoting. When I started, I use to go knockin at all the studio's doors in my city, with my sample CD's, promoting myself as a session player. It was a completely different world, mainly because now a days most of the studio don't exist anymore. Everything, or most everything is done remotely, there's only a very small percentage of sessions that are done physically in a studio with all the entourage around.

I Think that my main three big sessions in the last year (an international Musical, a songwriter album and a jingle/commercials acoustic album) were done remotely from my home studio in LA and sent to the producers based in London, Italy and LA (but still remotely).
Last question Christian.So yes, it's important the online self promoting, but mostly, be a good self producer of your guitar recordings so that you can work remotely all around the world.

When a session player is just starting out do most studios and bands have you play it totally their way before you inject any of your own riffs or chords you may have come up with?  

CZ:Usually in a typical session there is a 50/50% of following guide lines and "putting of your own" (that's an italian translation statement, ah!) This is a good question by the way, in fact, to be a good session player you have also to be really creative! It can happens quite often to be asked things like: " ok, do whatever you feel like here..." or "... can you do something like xyz???" So, yes, it's not rare to be involved in the creative process during a session. Also, you have to be a good reader, at least for chord charts. The most prepared, fast, enjoyable to work with you are, the more will be your chances to get working phone calls!


If your studio,band or if you're a single musician and need great craftsmen to perfect your work,contact Chris in LA at: http://www.christianzezza.it/IT/Work_with_us.html

Monday, August 28, 2017

Jimi Hendrix---How To Play Jimi's Material Your Way---And Not Copy The Man

Jimi Hendrix---How To Play Jimi's Material Your Way---And Not Copy The Man

How can you play Jimi's material yet put your own spin on it. Most Blues and Rock players copy Hendrix material lick for lick, and note for note. Then if they get it down they think they're just killin' it!

Think again!

I've had many conversations with fellow Canadian Guitar Player writer, and bluesman Dee Curtis. We talked about Detroit blues artists who play his material like a bastard but don't do it in a way that says--ORIGINAL.
First of all don't use a white Fender and Marshall Stack thinking that will turn the tide to playing Hendrix material like a freight train. Also,don't string and tune your guitar like he did either.

Nor do you need stomps and effects pedals.

In the last hour before I started writing this piece, I was looking at how to videos on playing Hendrix tracks. All of it, I mean all of it focused on copying his material and playing tunes like "Hey Joe", "All Along The Watch Tower" and "Purple Bloody Haze".Be an original even when picking out Jimi's material.If Jimi were here he'd be pissed and bored that you picked those tunes to play at Blues jams,Gigs and Practices--all the while playing it note for note.

Look at some of his more obscure material"One Rainy Wish" which is one of my favorite Hendrix tunes. As well he has some purely instrumental material which I have on cassette tape. Some other material was with the Isley Brothers when Hendrix was a sideman, as well as with Little Richard.Just go on line and pick something out and learn it until you can play it your way. Learn one Hendrix tune play part of the song and change up some of the chords and notes. You may have to go over the parts more than once to to change a Hendrix tune and play it your way.

You could take some tracks from The Band Of Gypsies tracks with Jimi and Bass axeman Billy Cox. Just record the bass and lead guitar parts and change up these parts and if you have very creative drummer and bass player in your band, they'll be able to change up their parts of Hendrix material.

There is a good way or device to record your original Hendrix tunes. Tascam has a portable digital recorder called GT--R1 to record guitar and bass parts. You can also slow down the playing of a track to learn and play along as well as recording to a different device.


The Tascam GT--R1 is a great unit for learning set lists and recording. You can make instant MP3's you can transfer to your band website for your fans to listen to. The Tascam is an incredible unit to use in combination with an Analog device, which is a Tascam 4 track tape deck to get more of a late 60's early 70's warmth and feel for Hendrix material.

You can pick up a Tascam 4 track on E-Bay and get a good deal.

Using both analog and digital will help you learn new material and play and record your way,and not be a copier. This way you don't have to use any Hendrix equipment like Fender and Marshall.

To be more creative I would suggest using the Tascam 4 track. Too many players learn and play material using digital units and effects, which ruin Hendrix material and having any original artistic integrity.

Learn and play Hendrix material your way, not Jimi's. Jimi would be proud if you played it your way, not his.

Peace and Success to all Players.

Mark G

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Greg G Rock Sanders--Back To Basixx Album--How He Writes His Songs

Okay musicians and fans of G Rock,I've been running a Facebook Group for G Rock's Back To Basixx Album.

Thank you to all the people who bought a copy or just want to be a part of the G Rock world. As well, thank you to Curtis Wilcox who's G Rock's artist--and does some wild art work that you'll see more of as we progress along with the album and other activities we have planned.

But last night on the Facebook group I asked Greg how he comes up with his songs. Does he write the lyrics before he fleshes out chords on the bass and do any vocals or other instruments.

Here is what G Rock had to say...

GR:As to your question about the songs and what's done first;. Bass licks, everything was actually written as separate patterns in the song structure.The solos came as a more free form playing different scales such as pentatonics etc within the chord structure...

Greg Sanders:
 Oh yeah, all overdubs songs like 'Pimpalicious' contains 8 different bass patterns,and  n contrast 'Strung Out' is one Bass part mixed way out front and meant to be the main musical part of that piece.

Mark Grove Thanks man,that's great information for all your fans and musicians who love hearing the technical side of G Rock and how you actually come up with your material. As well, I'll use this information to make an article for the website and help other musicians. Fans, this skinny you get no where else.

The link below will take you to G Rock's Back To Basixx Album Facebook Group to have your say on the album,and if you go see Greg when he does gigs as a solo bass player,and with The Gorilla Funk Mob. Also below the FB group there's a link to grab G Rock's album. It's only a few bucks.



Just click enter when you click over to long range. It's  at the bottom of the page. Then,click the letter "g" at the top of the page,then on the next page scroll down until you get to G Rock Back To Basixx album. The use Paypal to grab his album.

You'll love his bass and funk groove which takes me back to the 70's with all the great funk groups of the day.

So grab the album and see us over at the FB group for G Rock's Back To Basixx album.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Playing Your Guitar To Old Vinyl Records--A Great Way To Learn From Analog Records

Vinyl Records and playing to them to learn songs.
A great way to learn if you don't have a band or jamming partner to learn from. And especially if the old man has a great vinyl collection and old analog stereo with a turntable to boot.
Just remember to clean off those old albums very carefully.
Yeah, you may run across some albums that feel like"A Fireside Album"--cracklin' all the way through. Don't worry about it too much unless it's so bad you should do the old man a favor and go to the local old album store and grab one in better condition.
He'll appreciate the gesture on your part as the kid who wants to learn real music,and listen to music that mattered from the 60's and 70's.
What's your take on learning from old albums to play guitar?

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Greg G Rock Sanders Coming Out With Several New Projects Besides His Back To Basixx Album Solo Project

Greg G Rock Sanders has been workin' his ass off not just with his new projects,but has been working for years with The Gorilla Funk Mob backing up some of the top rap and hip-hop artists;as well as releasing their own material and doing gigs of their own.

I've been touting G Rock's Back To Basixx album,and did a review on it you can see here on the blog.

As for Greg's new material--he's coming out with a Black Rock Music Project,and a collaborative effort with Dee Curtis who's been a mentor of mine,and someone who I've learned a lot from over the years,and write for at times.

I'll have more on both these projects from G Rock soon,and I'll be doing an interview with Greg.

But for now go grab Greg's Back To Basixx album. It's more of a hip-hop endeavor which I enjoyed more than I thought. If Jimmy Page can find something in the hip hop of P Diddy, or Sean Combs, I should look into and study different genres of music.

To grab G Rock's album go to: www.longrangedistribution.com 

To get the album follow these steps: click the link above,then on the next page click the letter "G" on the list of letters at the top of the page. That will take you to a new page where you scroll down to G Rock's "Back To Basixx" album.

Use Paypal to grab it. it will ask you to use Paypal. It's about 12 bucks. A better investment than buying "Dunkin Donuts."