Ah, May. Oh, Jeez, this post is late; June is here in two days. Ah, June!
Last few Summers, I convinced myself to buy new guitars. Trying to abstain this summer. LOL. Regardless, we can dream, and in that vein, let’s look at the world of May guitar mags here and across the pond. You’ve heard it here before, “we read ’em so you don’t have to.”
Guitar & Bass
Feature story this month is an informative and visually appealing jaunt through the history of the single-coil pickup and how it is maintained its place in the pantheon of iconic guitar tones even though being passed by technologically by humbuckers and other innovations.
Other features include reviews of two new Gretsch electrics and a Gretsch junior Jet Bass; interviews with Steve Morse and Walter Trout; and a review of new Digitech iStomp pedal released at NAMM 2012. This looks like a smart and interesting play for pedal lovers: buy this pedal, which is housed and built like your other stomp boxes, but load in digital pedal effects so you can try out many different stompbox tones. You get two effects free and the rest you have to purchase for $7-8 apiece on iTunes, letting you experiment with different sounds before buying a new $100+ pedal. It goes on your pedal board, part of the signal chain like the rest. Innovative idea.
The single-coil feature has the main theme of noting that the pickup made popular and eventually iconic by Fender, is old tech, but still maintains a place in modern guitar tones. The history and the basics of single-coil pickups is covered thoroughly, starting with the technical explanations and diagrams showing the six Alnico polepieces and how the wires wound around each.
Great images and overview from the 1932 Rickenbacker Frying Pan lap steel guitar – ‘world’s first usable production electric,’ including the 1936 Charlie Christian single-coil pup part of his revolutionary electric sound, the pups designed in the 40s such as Leo Fender’s first, Walter Fuller-designed Gibson P90 and others, leading up to the early 50s and the pickups in the Fender Broadcaster, Telecaster, and Stratocaster. A goodly amount of info in a strong article.
Rickenbacker Frying Pan • Charlie Christian pups • Vintage single-coils
Rory’s Glories is the cover story, a long feature on Irish blues-rocker Rory Gallagher, celebrating the 40th anniversary of his solo career. Interesting feature, good detail and great shots of his iconic strat and also of his other gear used over the years. Focuses on key years from his short career, 1971 – 1974.
Nice historical article on the talents and collaboration of an incredible pair of guitarists, Lonnie Johnson and Eddie Lang, star musicians from the 1920s:
They challenged racial prejudice to work together as a team, fusing Lonnie’s bluesy licks with Lang’s jazz virtuosity, [and] they made guitar into an instrument that would dominate music for the next 90 years.
This in-depth feature happens to be written by Denny Illet, a great blues jazz guitarist in his own right, and it covers the ground smoothly. From Lonnie Johnson’s roots to his becoming a big recording star for Okeh records in 1920s. Eddie Lang, ‘godfather of jazz guitar,’ was busy recording and touring, eventually joining Paul Whiteman Orchestra and later as Bing Crosby’s main accompanist in the early 1930s.
The author notes that on 15 November 1928, Johnson found himself backing blues singer Texas Alexander, and the guitarist found himself sitting next to Eddie Lang. A few days after this the two guitar legends recorded sessions together, including the nuggets Two Tone Stomp and How To Change Keys To Play These Blues.
The course guitar music took from that point on is largely to do with what Johnson and Lang played that day in the Texas Alexander session.
Mound City Blue Blowers
Who waxed the first guitar solo, Lonnie or Lang? Illet lays down the accepted wisdom. At once widely believed to be the first record to feature a single-string guitar solo, Lonnie’s Mr. Johnson Blues, recorded November of 1925. This was preceded by Lang’s Deep Second Street Blues, cut in December of 1924 with the Mound City Blue Blowers. Turns out they were both trumped by ‘now-forgotten’ Nick Lucas who recorded tracks in July of 1922, Pickin’ The Guitar and Teasing The Frets.
Hendrix at 70 is the theme of the cover feature this month. GP gathered remembrances and commentary from luminaries such as: pickup maker Seymour Duncan, amp master Jim Marshall, pedal inventor Roger Mayer, engineer Andy Johns, Electro-Harmonix founder Mike Mathews, and 20+ notable guitarists. Good reading.
My guitar teacher, Jake Hertzog, has his Hey Jazz Guy column this month on transcribing solos. And his Hey Jazz Guy blog relaunched and looks snazzy, check it out.
Other notable features:
- 10 Ways to Hot Rod your Guitar
- Gear Roundup – 7 Portable Stereo Multitrack Recorders
- 10 Things You Gotta Do To Play Like Peter Green