Wes Montgomery: Mi Cosa

 

A student of mine put me onto this wonderful instrumental by Wes Montgomery, called Mi Cosa (My Thing in Spanish). Wes apparently recorded this in 1963 but it lay unused as an unaccompanied guitar piece for some time.

Guitar: 2015 D’angellico Exl1. The guitar is plugged into logic using the clean jazz setting. Didn’t fancy getting out the mics today…

Recent Gig rig

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I have been playing some dates recently with Bristol based band Moscow Drug Club. Thought I’d share my rig from a recent show. Here I am using my John le Voi oval hole that is my main guitar for gigging. This is going through an AER via an audio technical AT31B clip on mic. Really pleased with the sound of this mic, really helps capture the sound of the instrument. At the odd gig I have ran into feedback problems, but 9/10 it works for me without having to resort to the bridge piezo pickup (bigtone). I have no love for the bigtone, it is pure functionality and offers a very bland sound (and this guitar sounds anything but bland!).

For a few electric numbers I used my ’59 330 reissue with factory fitted bigsby. This was going through the Fender Deluxe reverb ’65 reissue. For anyone considering a deluxe, it is far too much volume for home use, but for this particular gig it was perfect. People say Fender twins are heavy, but so is this to lug around! I find the vibrato a bit noisy when playing solo, but with a band the noise isn’t audible. It’s like a ticking noise as I presume the effect is applied even when you’re note playing. The amp has a wonderful clean tone and the combination of Gibson into a Fender amp always sounds good to my ears!

The Beatles: Something

 

I saw Paul McCartney last year and loved his arrangement of ‘Something’. He played the first half solo with his ukulele and then the band kicked in for the solo. I tried to go along those lines, didn’t turn out quite as I thought it would, bit of a clash of styles, but it was fun to do! The verse has one of my favourite chord sequences.

I’ve been listening to a lot of Bill Frisell lately, particularly his recordings of Beatles songs. So I guess his influence has rubbed off.  I initially checked out a Ted Greene arrangement, but ended up working out my own thing.

Excuse the one fingered bass playing, injured my middle finger 😦

The rhythm guitar is played with a capo at fret 3. Harrison originally wrote the song in A (check out the demo version) and then put a capo on for the album version, this gives you some of the open strings that you wouldn’t have with barre chords.  Harrison apparently told McCartney to play a simple bass line……message must have not registered!

Here is a great version from the Concert for George:

Hold Back the River

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It’s great to hear guitar music in the charts and James Bay is certainly proving popular with my students. Hold Back the River is a great tune and a good introduction to pinching with right hand rather than using a pick.

Like me James, seems to favour red guitars and plays a cherry Epiphone Century from 1966! Here’s the tab of the main riff. Try to add vibrato at the end of each phrase to sustain each note. A good amount of reverb helps too.

PDF:

James Bay Hold Back the river main riff

The final phrase of the song is most challenging. I prefer to use my thumb to play the note on the 8th fret low E string.

 

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas to all of my students. Hope you enjoy your time with family and any new guitar additions! Not an Xmas song (maybe I’ll get something together for next year!), but had fun learning this legendary instrumental, Cliffs of Dover.

Had some fun learning this one, quite different to the sort of material I normally play. I’d watched an interview with him saying that he cut this song with a Gibson 335 and remember being surprised at the time as I’d only ever seen him play a maple neck stratocaster. There weren’t many YouTube covers using a 335, so I’d thought I’d have a go!

Gear: Cherry red (the only colour!) Gibson 335, ’63 reissue. Assuming that he went into a Marshall head and cab, I opted to use Logic instead of an amp. I used the distorted classic drive setting with the vintage British stack to emulate a Marshall type sound. I added stereo delay and chorus into the mix as well to try and capture that Eric sound (which is pretty hard given that he has such a particular tone!).

Jimi Hendrix 73 today!

If Jimi Hendrix was still with us he would have been 73 today. I would love to have seen what musical direction he would have taken in the ’70s and even ’80s. I’m sure there would have been some great collaborations if he’d been able to shake off his management team.

To mark Jimi’s birthday here is my cover of his classic tune: ‘Little Wing’.

If you’re trying to learn the intro to this song then the first thing to do is to learn the chord structure, which is as follows:

little wing intro chord shapes

This helps you connect the individual rhythm licks together and memorise it.

Here is a transcription of the whole song that I found:

LittleWing PDF VERSION

I would suggest slowing the song down so you can hear the licks, as they are quite intricate. I learned this when I was about 15 and don’t play it note for note today, I think of the chords and then embellish them as Jimi did.

 

My first Guitars

Having been playing guitar for nearly 20 years I’ve been through a few guitars! Some have stuck around for a while, whereas the odd impulse buy or internet buy has been with me a matter of weeks. I really wish I’d kept hold of some my earlier guitars, mainly for sentimental reasons. So I’d thought I’d look back at my first few guitars.

1996 Washburn Acoustic 

WASHBURN

I purchased this at Gloucester Music Co (a fabulous shop that sadly closed) in July 1996. I think my dad paid £135 for it.  It looked something like the one pictured above, but had a darker wood grain and a scratch. It was a full size dreadnought and I remember it being quite difficult to play! I learnt all of the basics on this and 5 months down the line managed to convince my dad that I needed an electric guitar. Sadly, I no longer have this guitar, my sister lent it to one of her friends and I haven’t seen it since.

1996 Fender MIM Stratocaster 

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Christmas 1996 saw this wonderful axe come my way. This guitar helped me really get into lead guitar playing and coincided with forming a band and an obsession with Jimi Hendrix. This was purchased from Duck Son and Pinker, again a Gloucester music shop that no longer exists. It came with a Fender Champion 25 watt amp. The guitar had a maple neck and was finished in midnight wine red and is probably the reason I love red guitars to this day. I’ve tried to replace this guitar and get hold of something similar, but haven’t yet found one. I sold this to a friend in 1998 after upgrading to an Epiphone.

1997 Epiphone Sheraton II

SHERATON

I bought this in the summer of 1997 at Roundhouse in Gloucester. It was a Korean made and was a dream to play. At this stage I was starting to get into more blues and jazz and guitar players that used semi acoustics. I kept this guitar until about 2009, when I sold it to fund another guitar. I regret letting this one go, it played very well, was versatile and good build quality. To this day I would recommend a 90s Korean Sheraton as an excellent first semi type guitar.

2001 Double Cut Away Les Paul

les paul

My first American guitar came around my 18th birthday, when I bought a Gibson Les Paul Double Cut Away in trans amber finish. Looking back it was a strange choice, it’s not a very traditional body shape or finish. It was used heavily for gigging when I was in an indie band at the time. Still, despite this, it was my first Gibson and I remember it feeling like the holy grail at the time! I sold this in 2008, it was gathering dust, mainly because my taste in music had changed. This is one guitar I don’t miss too much. I wished I’d kept some of these guitars, mainly because of sentimental reasons. If I could have one back I think I would pick the red stratocaster.

Review: Fender Deluxe Reverb

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Thought I’d review one of my amps, a Blackface Fender Deluxe Reverb ’65 reissue. I bought this second hand from World Guitars (Stonehouse). It features include:

  • 2 channels
  • Several inputs, so two people can play through it at the same time
  • Reverb
  • Vibrato

I was sold on this amp because of the fantastic clean tone. It has also been an industry standard since it’s conception and has been used by many favourite artists of mine (from Wes Montgomery to The Bealtes & Johnny Marr). The strange thing about this amp is people seldom use the first channel as it doesn’t allow access to the reverb or vibrato. Going back to the clean tone, it is stunning. At 22.5 watts, home use won’t allow me to crank it enough for it to break up, so I have to use pedals at home for gain.

The clean sound gives you bell like, crisp tones and it’s very versatile, I use it for mainly jazz and blues though. One thing that has slightly disappointed me is that it can be very fizzy sounding with overdrive pedals. I’ve been through a few to find one that works with it and have settled on the the Hardwire Tube Distortion and the Spark from TC Electronics. Other pedals I tried just sounded too bright. There is a treble cap mod that you can do to solve this, but I didn’t want to compromise the clean tone at all. Overall it’s a keeper and whilst I can’t get it to break up at home, having a great clean tone is always a good starting point. If you are after gain, then go for the Blues Junior.

 

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year to all fellow guitar players out there! I always find this time of year is a great time to take stock of progress and thrash out a new practice routine. Part of my teaching involves guiding students on how to practice effectively. A lot of musicians learn the hard way! Less can sometimes be more, and more often than not we find ourselves running over material we’re already comfortable with or rushing through new material. If you’re looking for guitar lessons in the Stroud (Gloucestershire) area I have limited spaces for 2014, so get in touch! Best of luck achieving your musical goals in 2014.

Xmas Offer

If you have a family member or friend that would like to learn guitar then why not take advantage of my XMAS offer of 3 for 2 on guitar lessons. 1 hr lessons are charged at £20, but you can buy 3 lessons for just £40.

If you would like to purchase lessons for a friend or family member then gift certificates are available. I teach beginners to advanced and specialize in teaching rock, indie, blues and jazz. If someone is picking up the guitar for the first time then I’m happy to provide advice on affordable or suitable guitars, amps and tuners.

Lessons take place in my music room in Kings Stanley. I will consider delivering lessons in a student’s home, but obviously this will affect the cost. When teaching, I always like to tailor lessons to the student’s interests, whilst making sure that what they are learning is developing their playing ability. To purchase lessons on this offer please email me at: stroudguitar@gmail.com or call on 07922 159 574.