Monday, May 26, 2008

Cracking the Code: The Secrets of Virtuoso Picking Technique

What a fantastic idea. Why didn't I think of this! There are tons of guitar players on the planet, but only a few who are truely viruoso speed picking demons! Why is this? Why has no one bothered to find this out? Well Troy Grady had an idea to place a high speed mini-cam right down in front of the picking hand, and then ask a pile of the who's who of shred guitar playing to let 'er rip in front of the thing. The results are VERY interesting.

It seems that no one has really analyzed the different picking techniques in this manner. Some hands float, some are anchored, some don't move at all. It will be very interesting to see the commparisons.

I have a pretty good alternate picking technique. When warmed up, I can play 12 notes a second cleanly, three notes per string scales. I got there using a metronome, playing at slower speeds and notching up when I could execute cleanly at the lower speeds. Every once and awhile it helped to push it though, play beyond your means albeit sloppy, kind of like jogging while wearing a backpack of bricks. When you slow down to where you were comfortable, it seemed much easier.

Well, it looks like he is trying to release a DVD. Frig, I'll line up to buy it. he has to get Yngwie and Gilbert on there though, although it looks like they have donated footage. Why not Eric Johnson!! Check out the guy's website here. I hope he manages to release this. In the meantime he's put some of his footage up on youtube. I wish he'd have taken footage of the fret hand too though!

Watch Steve morse fly in front of this thing!

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull

Indy's still got it. At the ripe old age of 65 Harrison Ford still pulls off the Fedora and Leather jacket routine and makes Indy 4 an orgy of scenes to Indy fans everywhere. I was lucky enough to attend a sneak preview on a ticket from a guy who won the hot 89.9 Biggest boulder contest (he built a ten footer from PVC tubing and lots of tarps. How come I don't find out about these things? - probably because I don't listen to that crappy station! ). A fellow Indy connoisseur, Indiana Rob knew the boulder guy and got a ticket for me and he, Kirok and company all took it in last Wednesday at the Silver city.

In a nice little promo, they had Ray's Reptile's at the theater, and they brought with them all kinds of creepy crawlies Speilberg is known to feature in the Indy films. It actually explained the fact that we saw all these guys going into the theater dressed like the Crocidile Hunter ( I thought they were just confused about the Indy 4 look - not shorts long pants! where are your leather jackets! You need a fedora, not an Australian outback hat!). They said before the film started that anyone who wanted to could come up and handle the creepy crawlies. I was the first one down!

I'd never handled a scorpion or tarantula before! After signing a waiver (that basically said if any of these things bit me and I died it wasn't Ray's fault, my estate had to sue the arachnid I guess), I got to play with s big scorpion (bigger means less poisonous in their world), a big Boa Constrictor snake, and a palm sized tarantula (they are incredibly light for their size). None of them were in a biting mood.

Just before the feature got underway the very pretty Hot 89.9 radio DJ asked if there were any people dressed up as Indy in the crowd, and to come on down for some free movie posters and stuff. Indiana Rob was up and down in front of her in seconds flat, bullwhip in hand, which he cracked, almost taking the face off of another DJ who was standing in back of him (hey man, she was IN THE TRAIN TRACKS!). Luckily she was not hit and probably did not know how close she came to getting so(hehehe, Indiana Rob is lucky like that!).

The film was GREAT! Everyone has probably heard by now that it features space aliens, and it works beautifully! That kid from the Transformers movie does a great job and so did the cute elf from Lord of the rings as a dominatrix soviet agent. The neat thing about the flick is that they had Harrison Ford act his age. It kind of makes you wish he had done a few more films in his 40's and 50's though. The ending was very cool, and there were so many exciting scenes you were forgetting them by the time you got to the end. I'll have to see this one again soon. (and again, and again!)

The next day Rob was in the paper decked out in his Indy gear. Cool article, Kirok scanned it here, check it out!

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Happy Birthday Bruce!

(Click below to enlarge)

Tommy Emmanuel Concert - Ottawa May 2nd 2008

I attended the Tommy Emmanuel concert Friday because the guy that made my new acoustic guitar, Tony Karol, called me up a few months back and wanted to know if I could bring it down to the show, work his booth and get a free ticket in the front row. I'm there! I was going to buy a ticket anyhow! Woohoo! So I packed it up and headed on over.

What a show Tommy put on! He said next year, he'll have been "spankin' the plank" (Australian for 'playing the guitar') for near 50 years! And it shows! He has an excellent Lenny Breau technique and can alternate pick with a thumb-pick (why can't I do this?) like most guys can with a flatpick. I definitely gotta learn how to do that and reap the benefits of electric guitar shredding I spent most of my early life doing. Crap, he even threw in one sweep picking lick in the middle of something. You hardly EVER see that on an acoustic. I took a pile of photos (click here for my flickr set). I've gone from trying to take a good photo to using the "1000 monkeys in a room with typewriters" method of taking pictures. If you take about 500, statistically speaking, you will get one or two good ones!

The guitars he was using were quite beat up. He seems to prefer an off-the shelf Australian model of some sort and the back top of each behind the bridge is worn down the the wood. Literally. There will be a hole soon. And I soon saw why. He scratches and rubs there to get an amazing array of sounds. He made his guitar sound like a thunderstorm at one point. He has a rubber feedback plug in each sound hole because his stage volume is so loud, he'd be screetching without them. He is literally one of the nicest sounding guys I've ever heard at a show. Australians and Canadians seem to have a lot in common (besides the love of beer).

The guitar booth (corner actually) was really busy and there were lots of people checking out Tony's latest guitar's (here's his website). He had a nice Baritone up, had a spin on it.. Someday! (I want a Harp guitar first and Tony'd probably be the guy to make it!). Personally, I like the guitar, 3rd from the left. It's a beauty! (ok.. it's also mine). It was a bit weird letting complete strangers play my guitar, but as someone there reminded me, "Hey, you're driving up the value of your investment by bringing it out here!). Actually, since I'll never sell the thing, I guess it doesn't really matter.

If you haven't ever seen Tommy play, check him out on youtube!