Live Musician Central Best Of 2008

The top posts of 2008 on Live Musician Central.

Matt Levitates While Soloing
Matt Levitates While Soloing

All this week I will be featuring the best content of 2008 from Live Musician Central. These posts are made up of the most popular on the site as well as some of my personal favorites. Just click on any of the articles highlighted in the slideshow at the top of the main page. You can also get to them by clicking this link: Live Musician Central Top Posts of 2008. -Matt-

The Fender American Deluxe Stratocaster – My Favorite Guitar

Loaded with features right from the factory, the Fender American Deluxe Stratocaster is the best guitar you can buy.

Matt With American Deluxe Ash Stratocaster

   Being a guitarist in a live band, I’m constantly asked “What guitar do you play?”. The truth is I have a modest guitar collection of about 12 guitars so I play a lot of different guitars. But there is one particular model that stands out above the rest. That is my beloved Fender American Deluxe Stratocaster. I actually have two American Deluxe Strats and A Jeff Beck Signature Strat that is very similar to an American Deluxe Stratocaster. The two I’d like to talk about today are my 2004 50th Anniversary American Deluxe Stratocaster and my 2005 American Deluxe Ash Stratocaster. They are both very similar to each other and incredible guitars.

   I got the 50th Anniversary American Deluxe Stratocaster when it was released in 2004 because I had always wanted a collectible guitar and I love the Stratocaster. My Jeff Beck Signature Strat had been serving me well for about 9 years and I was looking for another good guitar. The reason I got the American Deluxe version rather than the American Standard version was because I absolutely love the feature set that is on the American Deluxe Stratocaster.

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My Stage Amp – The Fender Cyber-Twin SE

My stage amp is the Fender Cyber-Twin SE and it has been the best live amplifier I have ever used.

Fender Cyber-Twin SE Front

My main onstage guitar amplifier for the last couple years is the Fender Cyber-Twin SE. As a live guitarist this amplifier has been invaluable to me. Because I play in a cover band as well as an original band, I needed an amplifiereffects setup that could cover a wide range of different guitar sounds. At a gig I will use sounds ranging from a country twang to hard rocking Marshall type distortion to full on saturated mid-scooped distortion. I used to use a Digitech 2120 Valve Guitar System but it just didn’t have the punch and presence of an actual amplifier and it’s sound always left me wanting more power. When I was searching for a new amplifier I played a bunch of modeling effects units and amplifiers including the Line 6 POD, Boss GT-8 Effects Processor and the Line 6 Vetta 2 among others. None of those modeling devices gave me the playing response that the Fender Cyber-Twin SE did. The biggest thing I noticed was on the other modeling devices, whether I played light or heavy, or when I turned the guitar down or up, the sound stayed the same. The Fender Cyber-Twin SE responded to my playing touch, guitar volume adjustments and my picking attack. It simply breathes more than a standard DSP modeling amplifier. There’s a secret to how Fender achieved this with the Cyber-Twin SE.

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Getting Along Is More Important Than Musicianship

In Stereo Gets Along

   That’s right, getting along is more important than musicianship. This is band chemistry 101 for all you live musicians out there. I’ve played with some of the most incredible musicians I’ve ever heard and I’ve also seen them not able to function in a band for more than a year. The musicians I play with now are all excellent. Maybe not the best in the world, but excellent players. My two bands have been together for 18 years and 14 years respectively. Let me tell you why we’ve been together for so long.

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Playing The Song Instead Of The Instrument

AC/DC Play As A Band

   As a musician have you ever heard the saying “Playing The Song Instead Of The Instrument”? I was having a discussion with some fellow musicians the other day and we were discussing the problem of musicians overplaying during a song. It’s something that I guarantee you’ll have to deal with at some point if you’re playing in a band.

   Let’s define what overplaying is: Overplaying is when you play too much to suit the song. Let’s use the drums as an example. A blatant example of overplaying would be changing the beat deliberately to 5/4 without the rest of the band, just for a measure or two to show you can do it. Blatant overplaying would also be putting a drum break in every bit of extra space in a song. Continue reading “Playing The Song Instead Of The Instrument”

Getting Proper Equalization With EQ Frequencies

Proper equalization is one of the most important things you can do to improve your bands live sound as well as your recordings.

Mackie Quad EQ

One of the most important aspects of mixing music in a live venue or in the studio is the use of equalization. The other day I wrote about how to tweak your guitar amplifier EQ settings. Today I’m going to write about the effect of equalization on other parts of the mix.

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The Most Important Instrument To Learn – The Piano

As a musician, the most important instrument that you can learn is the piano. Discussion on how piano and guitar theory are related.

Steinway Concert Grand

My first step into my music career was learning to play the trumpet when I was 10 years old. It came naturally for me and I enjoyed the instrument. When I turned 11 years old my sister began taking piano lessons. One day I sat down at the piano and my sisters beginning piano book was on the piano. I opened it up and proceeded to play the entire book in one afternoon. That book was John Thompson’s – Teaching Little Fingers To Play. It was easy to read and learn from and my soul as a musician drank it all in. Naturally my parents had been listening to me working on that book and suggested that I may want to take piano lessons along with my sister. I did and from that point on the piano became the musical root of everything I have done musically since.

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Take Care Of Your Hearing With Musicians Earplugs

Pete Townshend - Rock Induced Deafness

   One of the most important pieces of advice I can give to young musicians is simply to take good care of your hearing. I was diagnosed with a hearing loss when I was 16 years old and had only been playing in a band a couple of years. I was still pretty careless with my hearing for much of my early career. Finally the hearing specialists started telling me I needed hearing aids. That got my attention and I’ve been very careful with my hearing the last 15 years or so.

   The best thing I’ve done for my hearing is to get a pair of custom molded, sonic filter type earplugs made specially for musicians. I have the Westone ES49 Custom Fit Earplugs. Mine are a light tan color and are barely visible from the audience. They sound fantastic and because they are custom molded to my ear they’re extremely comfortable.

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Settle Your Nerves – Dealing With Stage Fright

Elvis - Dancing or just nervous?

   I’ve had my bouts of stage fright over the course of my career although I’ve never had it really bad. I’ve played with other musicians who were just overwhelmed with stage fright. I’ve played with guys that were throwing up before every gig because they got so nervous.

   Let me start off with a little quote from The King himself, Mr. Elvis Presley: “I’ve never gotten over what they call stage–fright. I go through it every show. I’m pretty concerned, I’m pretty much thinking about the show. I never get completely comfortable with it, and I don’t let the people around me get comfortable with it, in that I remind them that it’s a new crowd out there, it’s a new audience, and they haven’t seen us before. So it’s got to be like the first time we go on.” – taken from http://quotations.about.com

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Can I Play Your Guitar?

No you can't use my microphone!

Man if I had $5 for every time I’ve been asked “Can I Play Your Guitar?” I’d be rich! I’ve had people stumble up to me at gigs drunk out of their mind and ask if they can sit in with the band, and of course play my guitar to do it. I once had a guy grab my 2nd guitar off the stage while I was playing and play air guitar with it. Lucky for that guy he was a visiting Japanese dignitary at a marketing convention that didn’t speak any english. I think he knew enough from my reaction to quickly put my guitar back. I guess some words are universal. So when somebody asks me “Can I Play Your Guitar?” my policy is to simply say “No”. There are several reasons I’ve learned to just say no over the years.

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