Jeff Beck

•January 17, 2019 • Leave a Comment

Geoffrey Arnold Beck Born 24th June 1944 in Wallington Surrey, is possibly the most revered of Guitar players amongst guitar players. Part of the British Holy trinity of Guitar Gods Clapton, Page and Beck. They all played in the legendary 60’s band The Yardbirds.

Now at 17 Studio albums as Jeff Beck or Jeff Beck Group, of which he has received 8 Grammy’s, Mostly for Best Rock Instrumental Performance and further 7 nominations. A staggering number given the company he is in. Steve Vai and Eric Johnson only have 1 each and Joe Satriani has none, just to put it in perspective.

Add to this we have sessions for the following

  • Rod Stewart
  • Mick Jagger
  • Tina Turner
  • Jon Bon Jovi
  • Kate Bush
  • Roger Waters
  • Stevie Wonder
  • Brian May
  • ZZ Top
  • Brian Wilson

Beck was voted 5th in Rolling Stones Top 100 Guitarists of all Time and in 2009 was inducted into the Rock n Roll Hall of Fame in his own right, having previously been inducted as a member of The Yardbirds.

Beck and Jimmy Page ( Led Zeppelin) were childhood friends and spent large chunks of their teenage years jamming with each other and sharing records. I don’t know what they had in the water in that area, but it clearly spawned to of the most Iconic guitarists of all time.

Beck was the guitarist of choice for both The Rolling Stones and Pink Floyd, but joined neither, preferring to remain solo and chart his own course. Beck has worked with some of the most revered people in the industry : George Martin, Jan Hammer, Stevie Wonder, Mickie Most, Brian Wilson. Association with just one of these would be enough to complete a career.

Beck’s style is a combination of great 50’s rockabilly/ the most haunting vocalesque lead/ insane fusion and the blues. More importantly, when you hear him you instantly know it is Jeff Beck.

A signature Fender Strat , an amp coupled with some overdrive and great delay and reverb are the cornerstones of Beck’s sound. (although he is equally devastating with a tele, LP , Gretsch or anything else he can get his hands on ) In the video’s accompanying you will hear the tone and the variations. Eric Clapton when asked how Beck gets his tone responded with ” it’s all in the hands” . It is, Beck dispensed with using a pick many decades ago after damaging his right thumb. Beck loves Hot Rod cars, possibly more than he loves guitar, and builds his own from scratch, and on one occasion damaged his thumb whilst working on a car. This use of his fingers and thumb of the right hand is a huge part of his tone. Add to that his exceptional use of the trem arm. There is possibly no more expressive a player on the planet.

There is far more to understand about Jeff, but for now enjoy these tunes and we will investigate his techniques and licks further.

3 Legends, including previous Blog subject Luke.
Boyhood friends

Steve Lukather

•January 16, 2019 • Leave a Comment

Steven Lee Lukather born Oct 21 1957 in California is to my mind probably the most important guitarist of the late 20th Century. It is very hard to overstate Luke’s influence on Pop music from 1978 onwards. I will add a link to his full Discography, but for now I’m going to make a list of some of the more notable entries and hopefully you will see that to have played on anyone of these records or for these artists would complete most players careers. Luke has done this and more.

  • Barbara Streisand
  • Elton John
  • Cheap Trick
  • Aretha Franklin
  • Olivia Newton John
  • George Benson
  • Donna Summer
  • Joni Mitchell
  • Chicago
  • Lionel Richie
  • Michael Jackson
  • The Jacksons
  • Paul McCartney
  • Ringo Starr
  • Chet Atkins
  • Neil Diamond
  • Jackson Browne
  • Cher
  • Randy Newman
  • Art Garfunkel
  • Jon Anderson
  • Richard Marx
  • Alice Cooper
  • Belinda Carlisle
  • Michael Bolton
  • Stevie Nicks
  • Rod Stewart
  • Bette Midler
  • Dolly Parton
  • Christopher Cross
  • Joe Cocker
  • Earth Wind and Fire
  • Eric Clapton
  • Roger Waters
  • Don Henley
  • Don Felder
  • Miles Davis
  • Michael McDonald
  • Asia
  • America
  • Johnny Mathis
  • Kenny Loggins

Full Discography

So with that out the way now lets look at his band Toto and his solo material

Toto , to date 17 studio albums and 40 Million records sold worldwide, including the hits Africa, Hold the Line, Rosanna and 6 Grammy Awards. In 1983 they won Record of the year, Album of the year, Song of the Year as well several others. One Grammy is career defining. 5 in one go is unheard of. Add to this Luke’s personal Grammy’s for Best R&B song and Best Pop instrumental Album. Then add on his involvement with records such as Thriller which won 8 Grammy’s on it’s own. Can’t Slow Down by Lionel Richie that won Album of the year in 1985.

Now lets look at his 7 solo albums. All of which are guitar playing tour-de-forces, but even more impressively contain superbly written tunes with Top level players. Tracks such as Party in Simon’s Pants and Song for Jeff both setting standards for guitar instrumentals. His songwriting is over looked. Be it as a co-writer or solo he has written 87 of Toto’s 162 songs and 61 out his 94 solo songs. The rest all being covers. As well as songs he has contributed to others such as George Benson. ( Turn your love around, Grammy Award winning )

Now lets add on his role as a live player, Playing for and with, Jeff Beck, Ringo Starr, Boz Scaggs, G3 ( Vai & Satriani), Larry Carlton and Toto, plus his regular slot at the Baked Potato. This is a live player some fearsome reputation.

Lets have a look at some videos.

Live

Outro solo.
That’s a Beatle!!!! Also Todd Rundgren and Richard Page from Mr Mister.

These will certainly keep you all busy for a while.

Luke has used all kinds of iconic gear in the past, from Gibson Les Pauls, Ibanez Signature guitars, Valley Arts, to his current Music Man Luke series. He currently favours Bogner Amps

Let him tell you more :

Cornish Pasty Practice pt1

•November 25, 2018 • Leave a Comment

The chord progression in question is  A major| F#minor| E major | D Major|    which is essentially Purple Rain in A major. 

Why is this called the Cornish pasty practice?  Because I combine learning repertoire with technical exercises and theory.  The cornish pasty is the combination of a number of meals all in one manageable package. So is this.  

Exercise 1 : Learn the chords in all 5 CAGED positions. Be able to play them Vertically, Horizontally and in block positions.  This exercise needs to be played evenly, cleanly, and in time, Ascending and Descending.   Get really good at playing chords.  No excuses. 

Exercise 2 : This progression is in the Key of A.  Take the A major scale  in all 5 CAGED positions and practice playing it ascending and descending. Although ascending and descending scales are quite ” dry” remember to use vibrato and feel to make it sound musical at all times. 

Section  2 : Play the scale using sequences.  Play the scale using intervals.  and variations in rhythmic groupings.   1/4 notes, 1/8 notes, triplets, 1/16th notes mix them up and remember to alternate pick and legato as required. 

Exercise 3 :  Arpeggios.  Initially use Major and Minor arpeggios relative to the chords.  i.e A maj| F#min |E maj | D maj || 5 shapes. 5 positions and then as the chords in exercise 1. remember rhythmic patterns as per scale exercise. 

Exercise 4 : Pentatonic exercise.  A major contains 3 minor pentatonic scales.  Bmin C# min and F#min.  Practice playing these, again using all 5 shapes, ascending, descending, in position. Working on phrases and licks. Remember every exercise needs to be as musical as you can manage. 

Exercise 5 : This is an advanced practice concept so if it makes no sense at present don’t worry about it.  Superimposed arpeggio ideas.  Example  A maj chord with C#min7  or E7 in it’s place.  This will allow you to work through all the 4 note arpeggios available in the Key.  Again these are played in as musical phrasing as possible and get used to joining them together to reharmonise and extend the harmony of each chord as the progression plays.  This will take some doing but will be very rewarding. 

The pinnacle of music practice. 

Observation

•September 28, 2017 • Leave a Comment

Just a small observation that rankles a bit with my cantankerous old self.

The number of guitarists making videos extolling the virtues of every piece of new equipment, especially as they have just been sent it for free.  I can’t help but feel if you are being given freebies or even worse, being paid to “review” something, then your assessment is flawed from the outset.  I find it bad enough that most magazines review products if the product also buys advertising within the publication. Again, this doesn’t really lend itself to an unbiased assessment.  This has in recent times, moved onto to certain Social media stars now reviewing everything under the sun and unsurprisingly giving the vast majority a thumbs up, whether deserved or not.  Firstly, its very difficult to assess a product in a couple of days.  Anything I have ever purchased has been “awesome” in the first few days of me having it. Then you use the item in a variety of scenarios and you begin to understand it much better.

Example : I purchased a Fractal AX8. To try and give an unbiased assessment on this unit in a few days is ridiculous.  There are so many features on it that it took me as a professional musician nearly a month of playing with it every day to get close to just creating one set of sounds I liked.  The vast number of variables possible with this unit means that it would take even the most knowledgeable user weeks to get to grip with it. Where as the majority of videos show an unboxing, a bit of fiddling and then the big thumbs up.  The phrase “Bollocks” springs to mind.

I don’t mind in the slightest people getting freebies, fair play. What I do object to is that their judgement is now not objective.

Every piece of equipment I use, I purchased. My opinions on the equipment is valid, I purchased it, I spent my hard earned cash on it and have used it.  I am unbiased. If it was a waste of money, i learnt from that experience. If it was a great purchase then it was money well spent.  I am not beholden to anyone at the company. I haven’t sold my opinion fro free gear, or worse actual payment.

Think about it for a second. You are reviewing something from company A. They sent you a free one for you to talk about and keep. You are unlikely to say it was rubbish, if indeed it was, as you would rather like them to send you more things, even if you then just flog them off on eBay a week later. So can this opinion really be taken as valid on the given subject? Not really.

Why is it something that I am blogging about? Well my Youtube feeds are full of these videos. They used to be quite exclusive. These days, there are players just making money doing this. It’s a bit sad really.

I have students regularly buying bits of gear because they saw a Youtube video where something was reviewed and then badgering me as to how to get a great sound from it. Even  though if they had originally asked me I’d have said either not to bother with said item or at least sent them off to try one first.

It shouldn’t irritate me, and part of me says, well people will just think you are jealous because you don’t get freebies.  On reflection I don’t want any more gear. All the gear i have, I earned and it does exactly what I want. I researched it before purchasing it. I didn’t take anyone else’s word for it from social media.

Maybe I’m just not up with the modern world, maybe I don’t want to be. But if someone is trying to present an unbiased review I would prefer they weren’t already in the pocket of those that have paid them,

 

bah humbug..

Equipment

•May 7, 2017 • Leave a Comment

I have had a few questions with regard to what I use in various scenarios.

 

Let’s start with my teaching set up.

I use a PC running  Scuffham Amps. I have a Steinberg UR22 interface to allow me to plug the guitar into the PC.

The UR22 and the PC both run out to a mixer and a power amp. This allows me to control the backing tracks and the guitar independently.

Scuffham, in case you didn’t follow the link is a software program that simulates some of the most iconic amps available.  It allows me to recreate fairly accurate guitar tones without the need of a real amp in the lesson environment. This is due to space and volume.

 

On to my live set ups.

Currently I play in 2 basic electric setups. These are Rock based and the other is Disco based.

The rock set up is a Fractal AX8 running into 2 RCF Active Monitors.

The fractal is an amp modelling multi FX unit. It supplies me with every amp and effect I could ever dream of and the ability to switch amps at the tap of a switch. Tonally it reacts just like a real amp and to my ear sounds every bit as good as the real thing.

I plug the AX8 stereo into the 2 Active monitors, and also run it stereo to the desk from the XLR outputs. This allows me to adjust my backline volume without affecting the signal levels going to the desk. This comes in handy on numerous occasions and makes me very engineer friendly.  On the AX8 I also have 2 expressions attached, one to use as a Wah pedal and the other is my utility pedal. I use it to control volume, gain, pitch, mix, all sorts of variables.

Guitar wise I use 2 Suhr GG models. These are tuned to Eb.

 

Disco band : The Fractal remains, but no backline amplification. Instead I use a personal mixer and Shure In Ear Monitors.  This band has no amplification on stage. I much prefer this set up for 2 reasons, firstly I have less to carry and secondly, as I use IEM’s I control the volume into my ears and leave these gigs without the joy of ear hissing.

This band is tuned to concert pitch and I use a different guitar as a result.  In this instance I use a PRS Custom 24.  It seems to fit tonally better.

 

I hope that answers the questions with regard to the setups I use.

Another of my Heroes

•April 28, 2017 • 1 Comment

It’s not secret that Gary Moore is a huge hero of mine.

Who else gets this kind of adulation from me?

Francis Dunnery.

Now some may indeed be saying Who? Others may have had to endure my gushing and waxing lyrical in lessons and are now rolling their eyes again.

Francis is simply one of the most talented individuals these shores have produced in a long time. Bare in mind these shores produce THE most talented individuals. We have The Beatles and Led Zeppelin to start with.

I first encountered Frankie when I was about 16 and he appeared on Ch4 show called Twang Bang Kerrang about guitars. He was in the studio recording guitars for the It Bites track Once around the world. Something about what he played just caught my attention.  I acquired the album and the album preceding that, Big Lad in the Windmill.  Teenage me played those tapes to death.  I couldn’t play any of it, but the sound and the feel entered by osmosis.  I managed to see It Bites play a few times live with Francis and they were fantastic gigs. I was most taken with the clarity of the live sound. Not loud for louds sake, but clear and precise.

Next time Francis popped up on my radar I was working at Guitar Village. His manager at the time was local to us and was arranging instruments and such for a session he was doing at a local studio for his solo album, Fearless.  So one day he wanders in to the shop, up to the counter and says “Can I speak to Geoff, Kevin said to come in, I’m Francis”   My reply being .. “yes I know I have a 6ft poster of you on my wall ” .  He stayed for about 1 hr and I asked a ridiculous number of nerdy questions. He graciously answered and showed me a few licks.  FRANCIS DUNNERY IN FRONT OF ME SHOWING ME STUFFF OOOMMMFFFGGGGGG!!!!

Anyway, back to the important stuff. Why should you be interested in him?

With It Bites, Francis was initially seen as a phenomenal guitarist with a distinctive singing voice. Not many singers sing with their regional accents.  It Bites were/are a British prog band with heavy pop leanings. More importantly  they wrote excellent songs.

Francis goes solo. The guitar playing became less “flash” but the songs remained.  Having everything this man has done, I can tell you, that what we have here is a PROPER songwriter. The real deal, someone who can sit in there with Chris Difford, Justin Currie, et al, as some of the best and most crafted song writers these shores have.

He also acted as a sideman for a couple of other notable musicians, Lauryn Hill, Ian Brown, Santana, Steve Hackett, and a little known fella called Robert Plant. ROBERT PLANT.. FFS is there a bigger gig to get???

The solo albums continued, and being a progressive musician, he progressed. Not content to make the same album twice, it changes everytime. Acoustic, Electric, Electronic, re workings. Just when you think you know what he’s doing, you don’t. He’s ahead of you, don’t try to guess what he’ll do. Just understand that the songs will be memorable and the musicianship will be top notch, and for me that is what ticks my boxes for a musician.  Some bands make the same album over and over , because if it isn’t broken don’t fix it. However, if you already have a album that sounds a certain way, well just listen to that, you don’t need another one a bit like it.

This said, I’m sure you now just want to hear if it is for you. Maybe give all these a try , because as I said, he changes so you might just find what you like.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There are many many more tunes to enjoy.

 

You need to visit either :

https://francisdunnery.bandcamp.com/

https://www.francisdunnery.com/

Amazon

And last but by no means least

http://www.progzilla.com/shows/the-francis-dunnery-radio-show/

 

Listen to his radio show/ podcast.

 

I haven’t even touched on his psychological work and Astrology.

 

Enjoy.

Bands you may or may not know about

•April 25, 2017 • Leave a Comment

Here are some bands that I think are worthy of a listen. Not all the same. possibly not to everyone’s taste, but I think offer something worth having a listen to.

 

 

A superb band with amazing vocal harmonies.  The entire album has a Queen/Sweet/ELO kind of vibe.

 

 

 

Two from this band, as these show the kind of diversity within the album

 

 

 

 

 

The lord of Floydesque prog.

 

 

 

I Love Francis more than I can describe.   This country has produced awesome musicians and Francis is by far one of the most over looked.

Singer/ Songwriter, Insane guitarist, Astrologer, Mentor and general all round funny good egg.

 

Allan.  No ONE .. NO ONE gets even close.

 

 

How good???  Very.

 

 

Huge in the 80’s/90’s  and still going, still relevant and with 2 immense singers these days.  Fantastic live.

 

 

 
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