How Graph Tech String Saver Guitar Saddles Saved My Les Paul Custom

My Gibson Les Paul Custom developed a severe string breakage problem. Find out how Graph Tech String Saver saddles saved it.

Gibson Les Paul Custom - Wine Red
Gibson Les Paul Custom - Wine Red

   I have a decent collection of guitars that I use with my live band. I use some of them regularly whenever my band plays and some I just keep to use in the studio. Today I’m going to talk a little bit about my Gibson Les Paul Custom. My Les Paul Custom has a beautiful Wine Red finish with gold hardware and it plays like butter. It’s a really great guitar and I have to say it’s almost as good as my Fender Stratocasters. I use the Les Paul Custom a lot when I play live and it has quite a bit of playing hours on it. I had been using it for about a year when it developed a severe problem with string breakage.

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Levy’s Boot Leather Guitar Strap Review

Levy’s Boot Leather Guitar Strap is the most comfortable strap I’ve ever used. It’s also the only strap I take to every gig I play.

Levy's Boot Leather Guitar Strap
Levy's Boot Leather Guitar Strap

   I have quite a few guitar straps kicking around my practice room. My friends and family know I’m a guitar playing live musician so I get a lot of guitar accessories as gifts including guitar straps. I also get a free guitar strap every time I buy a guitar. It’s nice to have extra guitar straps because I keep several guitars out within easy reach so I can practice. That being said, I only use one guitar strap live and it’s the most comfortable strap I’ve ever used. That guitar strap is the Levy’s Boot Leather Guitar Strap.

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Fender Road Worn Guitar Review

Review of the Fender Road Worn Guitar series. Maybe not the best choice for a new guitar.

Fender Road Worn Stratocaster
Fender Road Worn Stratocaster

   Today on Live Musician Central I’m going to talk about an interesting new phenomenon in the electric guitar industry. It’s the new fad of paying big bucks for beat-to-crap looking instruments. This isn’t really a new thing as other companies have built replicas of famous guitars that include all the dings, scratches and missing pieces of the guitar they’re replicating. A really famous one is the Eddie Van Halen Frankenstein Replica Guitar that is just beat to hell right out of the box. I hear it’s exactly like Eddie’s and it can be yours for a mere $25,000. That’s right, twenty-five thousand dollars! Is that really worth it? I guess if you want to be “exactly like Eddie” then you’d shell out that kind of money. But today we’re talking about full factory production runs of “aged” brand new guitars.

    Fender has just released their much publicized line of Fender Road Worn electric guitars. These guitars are supposed to look and play like a vintage 40 to 50 year old instrument. I’m sure that this phenomenon has come about because of the insane prices that people are paying for actual forty to fifty year old guitars. I’m sure Fender is thinking “Why not cash in?”. Well I’m here to disagree with this fad of fake vintage instruments. Let me tell you why.

   First of all, let me say that I believe the best instrument is a brand new instrument that has never been handled by anyone but the final player. I personally feel like the new guitar technology is the best technology. Let’s take a look at my favorite guitar, the Fender American Deluxe Stratocaster as an example. The locking tuners are the easiest to string of all the tuners and hold their tuning the best. The Samarium Cobalt pickups are noiseless and produce single coil pickup tones without the 60Hz hum. The two-point synchronized tremolo  is very low friction and holds it’s tuning extremely well. The bridge pieces are solid blocks of metal that transfer string vibration better than the bent steel pieces used on the Road Worn series. All of this technology is the latest and greatest and it performs the best for gigging.

   Now let’s take a look at the Road Worn series. As I said before they’re supposed to look like 40-50 year old instruments. I’d like to add that they look like 40-50 year old, poorly cared for instruments. I look at my guitars that are a mere 25 years old and they have some nicks and scratches but nowhere near the amount of road rash, scratches and dings the Road Worn series is adorned with. The true vintage instruments that are in this poor of shape lose a lot of their market value compared to “like new” vintage instruments. I’ve heard people make the argument “But a well played instrument plays better than a new one”. I’d like to know how rash and dings all over the beautiful nitrocellulose finish make these guitars play better? I can tell you from experience that what makes a guitar play better is freshly crowned frets and a perfectly intonated bridge. I’m not buying into this whole “if it’s beat up it plays better” rubbish.

   There are a few nice features on the Road Worn guitars. They have a nitrocellulose finish which is excellent for letting the wood breathe and nitrocellulose looks fabulous when brand new. On the Road Worn guitars, at least you’ll get the breatheability advantage for the wood but the finish is basically ruined with all the aging. Another nice feature is the soft “V” shape neck which does feel very comfy in your hands and having some of the finish rubbed off will make the neck feel a bit smoother. The single coils are the Tex-Mex Stratocaster pickups so you’ll have very good output along with the hum. Sadly, the guitars only come with a gig bag and not a case. Then again, why do you need to waste time putting a beater guitar into a case?

   My recommendation if you can’t afford the Fender American Deluxe Stratocaster is to buy a Fender American Standard Stratocaster instead of a Road Worn Stratocaster. You’ll pay the same price for an American Standard Stratocaster as you will a Road Worn Stratocaster and you’ll get a case, better bridge and staggered tuners in the bargain. Plus, you’ll know where every single ding, scratch and dent came from 15 years after you buy it.

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Beginner Electric Guitar Package – Fender Affinity Strat HSS With G-Dec Amp

Recommended beginner electric guitar package. The Fender Affinity Strat HSS G-DEC Junior amp package.

Fender Affinity Strat HSS With G-DEC Junior Amplifier
Fender Affinity Strat HSS With G-DEC Junior Amplifier

Once people find out that I’m a guitar player in a live band  they will often start asking questions about how to get started playing guitar themselves. I usually tell them “You just gotta want it!” and then of course the practical questions start such as “What kind of guitar should I buy?”. I get a lot of people asking me what kind of guitar they should buy for their kids to learn on as well. I often have people tell me they already play acoustic guitar but want to get into playing electric guitar. My opinion is you just need to fork out the money and buy a really good instrument. I always recommend the Fender American Deluxe Stratocaster since it’s the guitar I use and you will have an excellent instrument that you can grow into. The problem is, most people don’t want to shell out that kind of money when they’re just starting out. So today I’m going to recommend a beginner package that will give you an excellent start into the wonderful world of electric guitar playing. I highly recommend the Fender Affinity Strat HSS with G-DEC Junior Amp package. Let me tell you why.    Continue reading “Beginner Electric Guitar Package – Fender Affinity Strat HSS With G-Dec Amp”

Bruce Springsteen Superbowl XLIII Performance Review

Review of Bruce Springsteen’s Superbowl XLIII Halftime Show.

Bruce Springsteen - Working On A Dream
Bruce Springsteen - Working On A Dream

   I was pretty excited to see one of the top live performers of all time, Bruce Springsteen a.k.a. The Boss play the Halftime show at Superbowl 34. I was prepared for the game with loads of delicious junk food and all the anticipation that comes with an expected win by the Pittsburgh Steelers. I sure didn’t think the Cardinals were going to prove to be much of a challenge for the Steelers but it turned out to be a pretty exciting game. You gotta love it when the win comes in the last two minutes of the game. But we’re here to talk about the music and The Boss’s live Halftime performance.

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Make Singing Practice Fun With SingStar The Video Game

SingStar the video game is an excellent way to practice your singing as well as your live performance.

SingStar PS3 Bundle
SingStar PS3 Bundle

   I’m always looking for good ways to practice my live performance. You can only sing along in the car for so long before you’re bored to death and there’s really no way to practice your stage moves while driving. It’s also not a lot of fun to do boring old Karaoke especially at home without an audience. That’s where SingStar the video game comes in extremely handy.

   If you’re not familiar with SingStar it’s a singing game that you can play on your Playstation 2 or Playstation 3. It’s a step up from Karaoke and it will help you work on your live performance in several different ways. The game basically has a selection of songs along with the original artists music video for the song. SingStar is much better than Karaoke simply because it uses the original artists music rather than a cover band playing the music. To play you just plug in the microphones, select a song and start singing. The lyrics appear onscreen with a pitch indicator that shows you how well you’re singing in tune. The game will score your performance which gives you a good idea about where you need to improve your singing. Continue reading “Make Singing Practice Fun With SingStar The Video Game”

Meat Puppets Concert Review Salt Lake City 1-22-2009

The Meat Puppets gave an incredible live concert in Salt Lake City, Utah on January 22, 2009.

Meat Puppets
Meat Puppets

   I had the opportunity to hear one of my favorite live bands of all time, the Meat Puppets on January 22, 2009 at the Urban Lounge in Salt Lake City, Utah. The Meat Puppets are a band that changed my entire way of approaching music when I was introduced to their music by a friend in 1986. The Meat Puppets taught me that you don’t have to be perfect to be great and that having a personal style was more important than being the fastest guitar player on the planet. My favorite album by the Meat Puppets is “Up On The Sun” which was released in 1985. That year my ears really opened up and I became able to deconstruct the music that I listened to and understand how all the parts meshed to create a sum that was greater than individual parts. The Meat Puppets were very instrumental in the formation of my personal musical vocabulary. So I was very excited to see them perform in Salt Lake City.

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Advanced Vocal Pitch Correction With Celemony Melodyne Studio

Celemony Melodyne Studio is an excellent program for timing and pitch correcting vocals as well as instruments.

Celemony Meldyne3 Studio Screenshot Collage
Celemony Melodyne Studio 3 Screenshot Collage

A while ago I wrote a post on Live Musician Central about working with Celemony Melodyne Uno to pitch correct your vocal recordings. Melodyne Uno has been a great tool for fixing out of tune notes on my studio recordings. I have really enjoyed working with Melodyne Uno but I finally decided I wanted more features and the ability to work with multiple tracks simultaneously. So I went ahead and upgraded to Celemony Melodyne Studio 3.

Melodyne Studio 3 has been fantastic to work with. As I said, my main motivation for upgrading was the ability to work with multiple tracks simultaneously. It does this perfectly and the ability to work with multiple tracks at the same time means that my recording projects get completed a lot faster. It’s so nice to be able to compare two, three or more harmonies together while having the ability to shift individual notes in any of the lines. Being able to bounce between tracks instantly and then being able to hear how the harmonies play back is really a huge time saver.    Continue reading “Advanced Vocal Pitch Correction With Celemony Melodyne Studio”

Introducing The EVH Wolfgang Electric Guitar

The EVH Wolfgang Guitar designed and tested by Eddie Van Halen, built by Fender.

EVH Wolfgang Guitar
EVH Wolfgang Guitar

    If you’ve been reading Live Musician Central for long then you know I’m a certified Fender products junkie. Don’t get me wrong, I own a Gibson Les Paul Custom and I love it but not as much as I love my Fender American Deluxe Stratocaster. So I was really stoked when I read about Fender building a custom guitar for Eddie Van Halen. That guitar is branded and named the EVH Wolfgang. It’s got some really amazing specs and according to Eddie himself the EVH Wolfgang Guitar is exactly the same as the instrument he plays live. In an interview for Guitar World magazine, Eddie is quoted as saying “The Wolfgang is a culmination of my 35 years of experimenting with guitars. Everything that I’ve destroyed, stumbled onto, learned and experienced in my journey to get to where we are now is in this guitar.”

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Build Finger Strength With Hanon “The Viruoso Pianist In Sixty Exercises”

Playing Hanon-The Virtuoso Pianist will keep your fingers strong and dexterous.


Hanon - The Virtuoso Pianist In Sixty Exercises
Hanon - The Virtuoso Pianist In Sixty Exercises

If you’re a live musician that plays guitar, bass or keyboards then you know that having good finger strength and coordination is essential to mastering your instrument. If you ever took piano lessons then you’ve probably run across the piano exercise book by Charles-Louis Hanon titled “The Virtuoso Pianist In Sixty Exercises“. I remember my piano teacher asking me at the beginning of every lesson to play my “Hanon Exercise”. Because the name “Hanon” was the largest word on the cover of the book we all just called it Hanon. I’ll tell you, those exercises were easy to learn, quickly became boring and built my finger strength and coordination in a way that few things have over the years. I owe a lot of my hand strength to good old Hanon.

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