For better or worse, Motorcity ain't what it used to be. But, having survived bankruptcy, corruption and bad luck that nearly broke its back, Detroit is making a slow comeback. While most of the city's residents are looking to the future, anyone looking to hold on to a piece of the city's long, colorful history would do well to take up guitar lessons.
Wallace Detroit Guitars builds their axes from wood they've reclaimed from Motorcity landmarks. Founded by Mark Wallace in 2014, the brands use reclaimed wood from sites like the Brewster Wheeler Recreation Center where fighter Joe Lewis trained, and the former headquarters of the Detroit Fire Department. The wood is collected by Detroit nonprofit groups, providing training and employment to local residents. Occasionally, the company accepts materials reclaimed from other sources within the city too: contractors doing renos on historic properties drop off high grade, decades-old wood, perfect for making guitars. The resulting product, as you can see, is both badass and classic.
Because of the historic value of the wood and the amount of work it takes to lay hands on it, a Wallace Detroit Guitar doesn't come cheap: One of the guitars on the site is listed at $2,400. As each guitar the company produces is made-to-order, prices will vary--but don't expect to get a screeching deal. Each of these guitars is a work of art made with the guts of a former work of art, especially for the purpose of making new art. Owning anything that can lay claim to that's gonna cost you. Read the rest
Master luthier John Monteleone created a series of four archtop guitars, one for each season. Anthony Wilson of The Met shows how and why each sounds different than the others. Read the rest
I'm not a guitar player (though I did take lessons in my youth), but I am a huge Nick Drake fan and have always been haunted by the very unique, dark, and moody guitar tones that he achieved. In this fascinating video by YouTube guitar teacher, Josh Turner, he presents and demonstrates his theory for how Nick got his signature sound.
Spoiler Alert: He identifies these four characteristics that he thinks are the most significant contributors:
1. Small-bodied guitar (probably)
2. "Dead" nickel strings
3. Medium-length fingernails, long thumbnail
4. Classical guitar-style hand position with bent wrist and thumb angle (and playing over the sound hole)
At the end of the video, to demonstrate the sound, he launches into the first part of Things Behind the Sun. It sounded so beautiful, it made my eyes want to roll back in my head. And made me immediately run to the original as soon Josh's video was over.
If you are also a fan of Drake's, you'll want to check out Remembered for a While, the the lovingly curated scrapbook of all things Nick that his sister, Gabrielle Drake (perhaps best known as the purple-haired Lt. Ellis on the cult-fave 70s British TV series, UFO) put together. Here's the review I wrote of it here on Boing Boing. Read the rest
Brian May, the lead guitarist and composer for Queen, is a multitalented guy. A Guitar World readers poll ranked him as the 2nd greatest guitarist of all time. He also has a PhD in astrophysics from Imperial College London was on the science team for NASA's New Horizons Pluto mission. He also made his own guitar with his father in the 1960s, which he called The Red Special. Hackaday has the build notes.
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Every part of the Red Special was a process of trial and error. This is the true hacker spirit behind the guitar. Most trials didn’t work the first time, but Brian and Harold iterated until they reached their goals. An example of this is the pickups. Brian’s experimentation with pickups started with his Egmond guitar. He bought some Eclipse Magnetics button magnets from the local hardware store. These formed the core of the pickup. Harold then helped him build a coil winding machine, which allowed Brian to manually wind thousands of turns of fine copper wire around the pickups. It even had a wind counter built from a bicycle odometer.
Brian didn’t have an amplifier yet, so he plugged into the family’s radio. The pickups worked! They were very bright sounding, but had one flaw. When bending notes, Brian found there would be an odd sound as the string moved across the pickup. He attributed it to the North-South alignment of the disk magnet poles. Cutting the magnets was beyond the tools he had, and custom magnets were out of the budget.
Hayburner Guitars makes guitars from vintage oil cans, and they look as great as they sound. Read the rest
Ben Higgins takes us from blues rock through thrash, black metal, prog metal, and djent. You can even learn to play it yourself. Raise those horn hands high! (via Laughing Squid)
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This amazing Gibson is for sale, a mere $11,999USD. Beautiful, but my guitar addiction syndrome has been cured.
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Freakishly clean 1908 Style U harp guitar in near mint all original condition, serial number 8618 batch number 1004 with original hand tooled rear loading leather case. By far the cleanest century old Gibson instruments we've seen. Purchased originally by the school teaching matriarch of a homesteading family from the Southwestern United States to entertain her students. The size was too much to deal with and the instrument sat unmolested at home in her closet, on her dresser until the death of her only son from old age. The caregiver attending to the dying needs of the now elder son claimed she was gifted the guitar before his death and that the conversation went something like this. Dying son says "what about my Moms' guitar? Caregiver says, what guitar? Dying man points to the closet and she sees the case on top of the dresser, that's for you, you take it." She sold it to me a few days’ later, perfect provenance, perfect guitar and perfect deal. It’s slightly difficult to covey how clean and original this instrument is, there will probably not be another of these, this nice ever. Spectacular varnished finish displays perfectly normal varnish shrinkage, patterned in a way only varnish does when not French polished out. A better example cannot be found for sale anywhere. All instruments are examined, cleaned and set up before selling. No modifications or repairs, no cracks or breaks.
My National guitar is a treasured personal artifact, but it was crusted with 17 years of crud. I tried a lot of stuff to get it clean, and in the end Simichrome did the job. Read the rest
Rev. Peyton of the Big Damn Band plays a three-stringed "Guitgun" that he designed and Bryan Fleming fabricated.
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I really like Finger Ease guitar string lubricant. While I doubt the spray does a thing for the sound of my strings, I find it allows me to play for quite a bit longer.
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I love Loog 3-string guitars. They use open-tuning, which makes them very easy to play. Amazon is selling the new Loog electric model for $199, a savings of $100 off the regular price. Read the rest
Guitarist Randy Bachman (Guess Who and Bachman-Turner Overdrive) explains how he figured out the famously mysterious opening chord to the Beatle's 1964 song "A Hard Days's Night."
Previously: HOWTO play the opening chord from 'A Hard Day's Night'
[via] Read the rest
Most of the guitarists, bassists, and mandolin players in photographer Jay Blakesberg’s just released gem of a new book, Guitars That Jam: Portraits of the World’s Most Storied Rock Guitars, are members of bands that use rock, bluegrass, the blues, and R&B as launch pads for improvisational jams. But one artist stands apart from this group – Willie Nelson – who posed for Blakesberg in 2014 at the Lockin’ Music Festival in Arrington, Virginia with his famously beat-up classical guitar. Nelson calls his 1969 Martin N-20 “Trigger,” after the horse ridden by matinee idol Roy Rogers, but with all due respect to the red-headed stranger, Willie doesn’t quite get the metaphor right. Comparing his guitar, as well as the rest of the Martin, Gibson, Fender, Alembic, Modulus, and Ibanez axes in Guitars That Jam, to a horse is fine, but musicians like Willie, Jerry Garcia, Warren Haynes, Carlos Santana, Trey Anastasio, and Neil Young are polar opposites of the saccharin Rogers. I’d say they are more like rodeo stars, or perhaps elite jockeys, who ride their thoroughbreds, night after night, to the musical equivalent of the Triple Crown.
Blakesberg captures the energy of these artists (plus more than 50 others), the sheer beauty of their instruments, and the intimate relationship between artist and machine, with the sure hand and keen eye that has made him a favorite of rock bands and music fans from coast to coast. Accompanying each photo of the artist in performance with his or her guitar is a statement about the instrument, usually written by the artist. Read the rest
Pedal Genie is a Netflix-like service for guitar pedals. It's great. But my first experience was offputting. A strange generic metal box arrived in the mail with a lot of unidentified knobs. It made sort-of-distorted sounds when plugged into a guitar and amp. I wasn't sure how to use it! So I immediately issued a complaint to Pedal Genie. An email came back in response saying it was actually a “one-off,” “hand-wired” “work of art,” implying that I didn’t appreciate such a fine custom pedal. They were right. I plugged it back in and indeed learned to like the Caroline Guitar Company Cannonball that they had sent.
File alongside other consumer complaints: “My caviar tastes salty” and “My Harley is too conspicuous, loud.” Read the rest
Who knew the Back To The Future Overture could sound so beautiful. Performed by Gregory Johnson who has posted more in this vein over at his AcousticLabs YouTube Channel. Read the rest
A couple of years ago Rafael Atijas designed a nice 3-string acoustic guitar, called the Loog, and wrote an article about it for MAKE. He launched a successful Kickstarter for it and I have one at home. It's nicely made and sounds great.
Rafael recently launched another Kickstarter for an electric Loog. It looks nice and is well on its way to reaching its funding goal. I want one!
Loog Electric Guitar Read the rest
Bohemian Guitars turns empty cans of paint thinner and motor oil into handsome electric geetars. You can hear their sound here. The guitars start at $230 and with every guitar sold, Bohemian donates one instrument to a non-profit for children in need. Bohemian Guitars (Thanks, Gabe Adiv!) Read the rest