Tell everyone you know who has told you that they always wanted to learn play guitar that the new semester for my introduction to Guitar Course Berklee/Coursera is starting soon! Total enrollment since April 2013 is approaching 300,000! It is a great foundation for many of the other courses that we offer here online at Berklee. Or a good foundation, in general, for you to realize your dream to learn and continue studying guitar. Now available with a Verified Certificate option too!

Spread the word!! Here is the Link:

https://www.coursera.org/course/guitar

 

So last Thursday night at the beginning of the set at a local gig, one of the 5581 tubes in my Allston Combo decided to call it quits. I immediately turned to the bassist in the power trio and said “bass solo!”. Within a minute I had unplugged the 1/4 inch output from my mini pedal board into the input of an Electro-Harmonix 44 Magnum Power Amp, plugged the 24v power supply into the wall and pedal and plugged the speaker of the Allston into the output of the pedal. Essentially I replaced my tube amplifier with a 44 watt power amp in a pedal!

Well not only did I make it through the gig, but I got quite a few compliments on my tone! I bought an EHX 22 Caliber  back when they were first manufactured as a backup amp. I never really had to use it, but was impressed with the overall tone and the way it responded to overdrive and pedals. When the 44 Magnum was released, I grabbed one since the comparable wattage to my amp (45w) made sense. I have used it twice as a backup with steller results on all fronts: Clean tones, overdrive tones, pedal friendliness etc. I am considering using one of these with a dedicated speaker cabinet as a convenient second amp on stage on a regular basis.

I am totally sold on both of these pedals. Not only as a backup, but as standard uber-light amplification! Highly recommended!! AAAAAA+++

Here is a video demo of the pedal in action:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LDtDRfIUyv0

If you have ever had difficulty with getting your traditional Cry Baby Wah to stay on a pedalboard securely here is a must have product for you. One of my students purchased one retail for around $10.00. Worth it for years of hassle free wah attachment. In addition, it allows you to conveniently access the battery compartment. Definitely one of those “Why didn’t someone think of this before” kinds of products! The video below explains all! AAA++

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GQuBzMgVeR8

For More Information: http://www.stagetrixproducts.com/wah-fastener.html

 

Every once in a while a pedal comes along that blows your mind because of the unbelievable value. I am a sucker for simplicity in operation and have a “3 knob” preference when it comes to features and ease of dialing in tones. A few moons ago, I wrote an article called the Klon Centaur Phenomenon  about Bill Finnegan and his legendary pedal, the Klon Centaur. There are quite of few Klon Clones out there (Try saying that quickly over and over!). Many of these pedals are quite close to the original and one would be hard pressed to pick out the authentic, given a blind-fold test.

EHX (Electro-Harmonix) has been on the cutting edge of the effect world for quite a few decades. I have a few of their later products and again they take first place in my arsenal for coolest with one of their latest forthcomings, The EHX Soul Food.

Essentially a Klon Clone with some tweaks, this pedal has quickly become my favorite OD for a couple of reasons. It takes up very little pedalboard real estate, you cannot beat the price, and it  sounds great! I rarely play a gig where I am not going back and forth to my amp, tweaking a knob or two in between songs or adjusting tone knobs on pedals depending on the room. I played one of my alltime favorite gigs (tonewise) last week with the EHX Soul food as the main engine behind my solos with no tweaks all night!

It was historic! The way the Soul Food works with a Fender style platform is quite spectacular. Check out my original article to see what makes the Klon magic happen (Click Here). A  great feature of this pedal is it stacks really well with other boosts or overdrive pedals. Use it as a clean boost before an overdrive pedal, or use a clean boost before it to increase the edge.

I did a few A/B tests with the EHX Soul Food and other pedals including the KTR from Bill Finnegan, which is the latest, smaller incarnation of the original Klon. If you cannot afford an original Klon or a KTR, The EHX Soul Food is a very special find. The KTR is a welcome downsize in price and size from the original Klon. It is easier to get an offers a “buffer” or “no buffer” option switch on the side of the pedal.

 

At around only a $60.00  price tag, the value and quality of the Soul Food is unbeatable!

Below is a link to a video from EHX. For more info check out The EHX website

Hi There,

Just a quick heads up to let you know that Introduction to Guitar has started up once again. For those of you who might be thinking of getting the fundamentals or filling in some blanks areas in your guitar knowledge, the course represents the perfect opportunity for you to do exactly this.

The cost is free!

For more information, here is the link:

https://www.coursera.org/course/guitar

I will be posting very soon about a couple of very cool guitar tone products!

 

In my on-line course at Berklee Online: Funk/Rock R&B Soloing and in my instructional book, “Funk R&B Guitar: Creative Solos, Grooves and Sounds” I talk about guitar sounds and effects that are common to the genre, both back-in-the-day and in contemporary tunes. One of the flagship sounds for the genre is the envelope filter. Envelope filters might be described as wah pedals in disguise. Instead of having a rocking treadle for use with your foot, the filter is automatically controlled with volume or velocity. Essentially, the harder you pick, the more “wah” you get. You can get some very interesting sounds after fine-tuning and experimenting with your picking and plucking.

Back it the day it was the Mu-tron III envelope filter that showed up in funk on guitar and on basslines. In a recent blog post, I talked about the 3-Leaf Audio Proton envelope filter as a hot contender for todays market. I recently stumbled on a rare find in the Guyatone WRm5 Wah Rocker pedal. These are no longer made and seem few and far between in used circles.  I was looking for something for my pedaltrain nano board. Yes I am on a constant search for smaller effective pedals that I can squeeze onto that little go-to board! I took a chance with the WRm5 since I had never played much with this model.  I did, at one point, try out its predecessor, the WR2 many moons back. The WRm5 has the standard features of most envelope filters: Decay, Threshold, Response, although differently named from some other auto-wahs, give full control over the quality of wah and oww that you get over time. In addition it has a “blend” switch which allows you to mix the original signal back in with the effect. Though I have never found it necessary to mix my original signal back in with an auto wah sound, it seems an interesting feature. I will experiment with this one to see what my personal applications for it might be.

Overall, I think the Guyatone WRm5 Wah Rocker is an unbelievable find, and is about the smallest full-featured envelope filter I have enjoyed thus far. Mine was an ebay quick sell on buy-it-now at about 160.00 which is probably higher than they were when they first came out, but given that these things are untraceable, a good value addition to the mini funk bag of tricks!! Keep an eye out on ebay for one! AAAA+

Here is a link to a youtube demo I found for this pedal:

I just wanted to give a heads up reminder to everyone to let your friends know that another semester of my Introduction to Guitar course is about to begin tomorrow January 27th 2014. Spread to work to anyone you know who is thinking about starting to play. The course is free and lasts for 6 weeks. It gives you the basics of everything you need to know to begin learning. It is even helpful for some who have already started playing and need some background or basic theory to help them along. No experience necessary!!

Here is a video describing the course.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iUxpwYUlWDc

For more info, just click on the link below:

https://www.coursera.org/course/guitar

 

This post is a quick New Year’s alert to let you know that the long awaited Pedaltrain Volto power supply is now available at your local and on-line stores.  You may have read my post about the amazing Sanyo Pedal Power quite a few posts back. The Volto is a similar product.

The low profile of the Pedaltrain Volto makes it a great choice for mounting directly under your Pedatrain junior or mini or similar sized board. This, of course, means that there is another pedal-space on top of the board. The 3 status LED’s of the Volto have the same function as the green, amber and red light on the Sanyo, giving you an indication of the remaining power. Two outputs allow you to use 2 connectors or daisy chains, and the full-charge shut-off function is a feature that is a must have on rechargeable batteries to avoid overcharging. One very nice feature is that the Volto can be charged using a USB connection which gives you a variety of options for charging from the laptop to the car or home.  The Volto is a very practical product in a very practical package. It is unobtrusive and very easy to use.

I have been using mine on my Pedaltrain Nano with 5 small pedals. I set mine up with the on-off switch and the LED’s showing through the centre of my board, so I can constantly monitor the status. You can see the blue lights of the Volto peeking through from underneath the board on the right hand side.

The one thing I would recommend is a recharge before each gig. Because of its low profile the Volto will make it through the gig, but not 2 or 3 as I usually do with my Sanyo. All the same, you cannot beat it for the practicality it brings to the gig stage!  The Volto and the previously reviewed Sanyo are a couple of the most practical products to come around for the working musician!

 

Here are a couple of videos, one from Pedaltrain and the other just one of a review that was pretty informative on the set-up.

AAAA++

 

This post is another quick heads up.  I have been using the 3 Leaf Proton Envelope Filter for a couple of months now on my go-to board. As an R&B/Funkateer, vibe sounds are a big part of what I do on guitar.

The Proton Envelope Filter has much in the way of tweakable features that give you a broad range of sounds. I was an original Mu Tron III owner back in the day. I will say that it is very hard to find the contemporary vibe pedal that gives the good usable tones with the variety of features available in the original. I think the Proton comes as close as it gets! I will let the video do the talking. It is very well done and covers all of the bases. I will tell you that this pedal sounds great in my live power trio setting. The size and quality build with top inputs (including the 9-18v input) make it a serious addition to your pedalboard!

AAAA++

Here is the vid:

Hi Everyone,

Just wanted to give you a heads up to a course I recently authored. It is one of the results of a partnership with Berklee College of Music and Coursera. Coursera is an organization that is bringing free college courses to the world. The idea is that if you have access to the Internet, you will have universal access to knowledge at no cost. It is quite an amazing opportunity for students all over the world. I was honored to be chosen as one of 4 authors for this initial collaboration with Berklee. My course is called Introduction to Guitar , and is designed to help folks to take that first step towards learning guitar. It gives you the fundamentals for building knowledge on guitar. It may even be useful for clearing some grey areas of guitar knowledge for folks who have been playing for some time. Introduction to Guitar is a 6 week long course and covers everything from the names of the strings and guitar parts to tuning, basic scales and basic chords. It ends with a couple of very easy songs to play. It moves at a comfortable pace, is very methodical and concise and it has had overwhelmingly positive reviews so far. The first semester enrolled roughly 120,000 students. Currently  it is approaching 200,000 in total enrollment since that first time! (Thats a lot of guitar lovers!) It will run again sometime in the next month or so.

So altho many of you may be experienced guitarists, you may know someone who has thought about learning to play guitar. Spread the word and encourage them to sign up! It is free and sometimes all it takes is that first step to a lifetime of musical fulfillment.

Here is a link to a promotional video describing the course content: