Thursday, December 11, 2014

ADHD Strategies

Let's talk about ADHD and different strategies for working with ADHD. It's important to note that this is not a one size fits all for everyone out there. Everyone is different and has different needs, ADHD can be related to stress factors and environmental factors. In addition most people that deal with ADHD often have other secondary, or sometimes primary, mental issues such as OCD, dyslexia or depression. I am not a professional, I can only talk about things I've read and my personal experiences. My advice is to find a Doctor or Physiologist who specializes in ADHD. I was lucky early on to have a teacher who had been reading up on it notice that I was struggling and needed a little extra help with certain things.

When I was a child there was very little information on ADHD and we were really starting to study it and learn about it. As I got older it seemed to become a buzzword and a lot of people thought that it just meant that you got distracted easier. And let's face, all kids get distracted easy. Some people believe that ADHD is something that you "grow out of" the truth is as you get older some people learn to deal with it. You develop strategies to help you get things done with ADHD.

Diet

There seems to be some misconception that artificial sweeteners and chemicals are the root cause of ADHD. But there have been 60 long term studies on ADHD and diet found no real difference in the need for treatment treatment. That's not to say that these things can't exasperate a condition. Stimulants found in sodas, energy drinks and diet pills can cause problems if someone is on a prescribed regimented stimulant. To much stimulant can be worse making you feel agitated or, strangely enough, tired. But a well balanced diet of fruits, veggies, and some protein can help your overall well being. This doesn't negate ADHD, but it can help decrease stress factors, fight mild depression, and help you think clearer. I've met some people who found relief by switching to a vegetarian diet while others seem to get worse.

I've tired various diets and one of the most interesting was the Zone Diet. It really did help me think clearer. I felt great, and looked younger and constantly felt like I was firing on all cylinders. But I found it difficult to keep up with. It's very regimented and for someone who can be picky about the foods they eat, it can be a very limited menu. Still it's worth a look at if your someone who can eat on a schedule and enjoy eating healthy.

Medications

I want to take as little medication as possible, but medication really can help. The most common medications for ADHD are stimulants. But getting stimulants to work is tricky. To little won't do much, and to much, as noted earlier, can be a disaster. I remember as a kid breaking pills into fourths to try and get the dosage right. But once we got it right it really helped, my mom tells a story about me being able to do a puzzle, start to finish for the first time in my entire life. I was NINE! My five year old does puzzles all the time. Medication can help. Work with your practitioner, give it time (that's the hard part), and watch out for additional stimulants like sodas, allergy medication, and diet pills.

Exercise

I like exercise, it makes me feel better. But it's hard for me to do on a consistent basis. If I'm not reading and thinking about it constantly I won't do it. But when I do it, even just a bit every couple of days I feel better and feel like I can do more. On top of that, pushing yourself physically seems to help get all those distractions out of your mind. You have to focus to hit a personal record and lifting heavy weights, or running a faster time helps you realize that a lot of things that your worried about aren't that important.

Schedules

I find schedules are important. I try to schedule time to practice playing guitar, I write down my goals and spend a certain amount of time working on them. Most of the time if I do that I'll enjoy it and want to play more but sometimes I just can't concentrate. So maybe I just noodle or play some of my favorite songs for a bit or I put the guitar down and do something else. Keeping a written list of things I want to work on helps keep me focused.

I'm planning on delving into each of these subjects a bit more in depth in the future. Click the Random ADHD tag under Post on Topics to see other post on ADHD. If you have any strategies that you have found work for you please feel free to leave them in the comments or email me. If your looking for more specific ideas please email me and I'll try to help or point you in some direction.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

ADHD Guitarist Christmas Wishlist 2014

It's Christmas time. And for most of us that means scheduling Christmas parties, buying presents for kids and significant others. It's a crazy time of year, and often we can be caught off guard when someone ask "what do you want for Christmas"? So I figured I'd post a few guitar related ideas of things most of us wouldn't mind finding under the Christmas tree.

Pickups- Experimenting with different pickups is always fun. You can dramatically improve the sound over cheap pickups or just tweak the sound of your favorite guitar. You can add more mids or more scoop, a little less top end, or pound the front end of your amplifier with a really hot pickup.

Seymour Duncan Jason Becker Perpetual Burn Humbucker- Jason is one of my biggest inspirations for more reasons that his phenomenal guitar playing. Sitting between the legendary JB and a classic PAF the Perpetual Burn is hot enough for shredders but dynamic enough for blues and fusion players. The reviews have been impressive.

Fender Noiseless Pickups- It seems like every couple of years noiseless single coils keep getting better and better. Most of them can be tapped to give you true single coil sound. These really are versatile and able to deliver the goods in the tone department.

Pedals- While your tone should be based around your guitar and amp pedals are fun, they are one of the easiest ways to add a whole new dynamic to your playing and discover new sounds. And they are available at most price ranges.

Overdrives

EHX Soul Food- This krazy klon kone has captured the attention of the guitar world, everyone seems to like it. A low gain drive with a slight roll off on the outer frequencies and a slight lower mid bump, it also includes an internal switch to add a nice buffer or not depending on your taste. Think of it as a more button

Fulltone Fulldrive 2 Mosfet Overdrive- One of the early more versatile boutique tube screamer based pedals, the recent price drop makes this a killer deal. It has switches for more or less base, and a smoother tone as well as a boost you can engage for more gain or solos.

Wampler Dual Fusion- While this may seem like an expensive pedal at first, your really getting two great overdrives at a great price. Wampler worked with fusion guitarist Tom Quayle for this dual overdrive pedal tweaking their Paisley Drive (Brad Paisley's pedal) and their Euphoria Overdrive (Dumble sounds). It's extremely flexible, you can stack either pedal first, or use the dual in and outs.

Xotic SL Drive- Mini pedals are all the rage right now and how Xotic shoves this much marshall flavored tone into this little beast and leaves room for a 9v battery is beyond me. Internal switches let you select between the sound of a SuperLead for Jimi sounds or the SuperBass for Duane Allman flavors. It's a very organic, dynamic sounding pedal.

Fuzz Pedals

Mojo Hand Fx Iron Bell- Mojo Hand is one of those companies that keeps knocking it out of the park with each new release. The Iron Bell is not a straight up Big Muff clone but is smoother and adds a midrange control that allows you to dial in tones from the scooped early muffs to the mid heavy soviet era. It also makes a nice overdrive sound. Whether you need to cover David Gilmour or Billy Corgan this can do it.

Dunlop Mini Fuzz Face- Dunlop has released a whole slew of these mini Fuzz Face pedals in different fuzz flavors but this germanium based pedal has quickly become a favorite of fuzz freaks. It's fat and dynamic sounding in front of a slightly over driven amp. But read up on germanium quirks, it doesn't play well with other pedals and can sound different on cold or warm days.

Fulltone OctaFuzz- I've been a bit obsessed with octave fuzz pedals lately, and this one leads the pack. It's mostly a clone of the old Tycobrahe Octavia but with a switch to take out the octave circut giving you a fatter sounding fuzz. Versatile and built like a tank.

Modulation

Mooer Eleclady- Mooer has released a whole range of clones that have been hit and miss but many people are saying this is the best clone of a vintage EHX Electric Mistress Flanger. More subtle than the jet sounding MXR flanger, think more Andy Summers or David Gilmour in the late 70's.

MXR Phase 45 Script - Have I mentioned how much I like phasers? Different from the Phase 90 the Phase 45 is slightly smokier, sweeter variation of phase. Hand wired like the originals, this pedal does not have an LED indicator and is battery powered only.

Delay

TC Electronic Flashback- These have been out for a while and have gotten rave reviews. The new toneprint program from TC allows you to tweak settings for days or just beam toneprints from some of today's biggest players. It also comes in a X4 for access to more delay settings or a mini pedal to save space.

Way Huge EchoPuss- A true Analog delay similar to the MXR Carbon Copy but voiced more like the old EHX Memory Man. A beautiful sounding delay and highly recommended.

Loopers

TC Electronic Ditto- With the recent price drop making these more affordable that ever your reasons for not having one are getting fewer. There is a new X2 version with more features but the original Ditto Looper is a great practice tool.

Accessories

Strings are pretty personal. I've been using GHS Boomers for years and really love them but I also talked about the new D'Addario NYXL strings here and they are fantastic. Pickup a multi pack and save some dough.

Picks- We guitar players go through picks like crazy, they wear out and get lost constantly. I love experimenting with different sounds from different materials like metal, nylon, TUSQ, and plastic. Recently I've jumped on the Tortex band wagon, they sound beautiful and give you a lot of attack when you need it. You can never have enough picks.

Inspiration

Gary Moore: One Night in Dublin- It's no secret that the late Gary Moore is one of my all time favorite guitar players. In this tribute to the late Phil Lynott, Gary and other Thin Lizzy alums tear up the stage in front of a home town crowd. This is classic blues based rock at it's best.

Jason Becker: Not Dead Yet- Jason Becker was an amazing up and coming guitar player who was just hitting his stride when given the worst news of his life "your going to die in the next three to five  years." That was 1990 and he is still here working on music, puzzling doctors, defying disease and inspiring people around the world. He is a testament to the human spirit, positive thinking, and the will to live. EVERYONE, not just guitar players, should watch this movie.

David Gilmour: Remember That Night- David Gilmour's live performance of his 2006 album On an Island, and classic Pink Floyd songs culminate in a breath taking performance at Albert Hall. His incredible tone and masterful playing is a lesson in phrasing and feel.

Stevie Ray Vaughan: Live from Austin- This DVD features both of Stevie Ray Vaughn's performances on Austin City Limits. One in 1983 and one in 1989. Both fiery performances, the staggering differences between them are the subtleties between watching an insecure, drug addled performance in 83 and a bright eyed, full of life performance in 89.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Mesa Boogie Stiletto Deuce Review

Around 2005 I bought a Mesa Boogie Stiletto Deuce. While I had owned a couple of different tube amps in the past this amp was different. It was loaded with features I had never used before, built better than anything I'd ever owned. Also it didn't immediately sound like I thought it would. Had I made a mistake? Were those videos of Andy Timmons sounding so amazing a lie? Sure there were mixed reviews on the internet but Mesa builds fantastic stuff... right? The truth was I had no idea what I was getting into.


The Mesa Boogie Stiletto is a two channel amp based around the EL34 platform. Each channel features three voice settings, and independent 100w/50w swiches. You can choose between tube rectified, for a spongier more dynamic feel or solid state rectified for tighter tracking. On the back there is a built in variac switch that knocks about 20 percent off the power. There is also master volume and boost switch for solos. Like all Mesa Boogie gear it was built like a tank, and almost as heavy. 

A lot of people thought that the Stiletto was an EL34 based Dual Rectifier. It's not. There are a lot of reviews on the internet that state that it is bright and fizzy, and admittedly it can be. You can spend an hours with this amp and never find a good sound out of this amp. The knobs don't change the sound as much as changing guitars. It's bright in your face sound can sound thin and if you rely on the preamp gain for your distortion it can sound fizzy. But I called up an older friend of mine who had been in the game a long time, and was a huge Mesa Boogie fan. He laughed and told me Mesa's are hard to dial in sometimes because they are so versatile and to bring it by his place. 

When I got there he set it on top of his 4x12 cab and played a few licks, then he handed me the guitar told me to play some chords. He cranked the amp up and it immediately it opened up and sounded full. Then he spent a few minutes fiddling with the knobs. After about five minutes he told me to play some leads, there was no fizzy sounds as most of the distrtion was coming from the EL34's and then we added a little with the preamp gain. While it didn't have the roar of a Dual Rectifier or JCM800 it sounded great. One of the things I learned very quickly is that it responded to my playing more than any other amp I'd ever owned. If I used a different guitar pick it sounded like I was using a different guitar. If I used a different guitar it almost sounded like a different amp. I also learned I was sloppy! I'd never noticed that before but it quickly forced me to clean up my playing because it had amplified my mistakes like no other amp.
A close up of Andy Timmons settings

Next I added it to band practice, no more getting lost on stage the amp cut through the mix. Everyone had to adjust, but everyone liked it. It reminded me of an old plexi I had once played and, as I found out, with good reason. Channel 1 is a clone of Andy Timmons 68 superlead! Channel 2 is one of Mr. Timmons early 70 JMP amps! Then the guys at Mesa Boogie added the extra switches and options to tweak the sound. These switches don't do much until you crank the amp up even then they can be subtle. But in a band setting or in a recording studio this amp excels. At loud volumes it opens up and sounds full and with the rest of the band it just seems to find a nice home. 

But this is not an amp to play at home, you have to crank it up. Even on the 50w settings and with the variac on and running though a 2x12 this amp is insanely loud, and if you turn it down... it starts sounding thin. But it takes pedals extremely well for such an in your face sound and so at home I would often use a marshally sounding pedal for practice. 

Andy's Stiletto's and Lonestars in the studio
So who is this amp for and who shouldn't use it. If your looking for lush fendery clean tones this isn't it, it's bright and takes pedals well but more like a Hiwatt. If your looking to primarily play at home this isn't it, there are a lot of great amps out there that can sound good at lower volumes, a lot of the new lunchbox amps like the Egnator Tweaker and also gig ready amps like the new EVH 5150 III sound just fine at low volumes. There is a difference between preamp gain and power amp gain. It's hard to describe, but the preamp gain on this amp is fine for adding a little extra gain but not great at being the main distortion sound, the power amp gain however is fantastic. In a band mix this amp excels at 70's and early 80's Marshall type tones for obvious reasons and recording with this amp is amazing. If you want to play better and use your guitars volume and tone knobs to find different sounds this is an excellent amp. To learn more about Andy Timmons Gear check out the Andy Timmons Gear Guide.

When my kids were born I stopped playing in bands for now and this amp found itself not being used. I started playing at home regularly and with friends on occasion, so I sold it to fund other gear. Sometimes I miss it, even though it's not practical for me at the moment. In the Mesa line it has been replaced by the Royal Atlantic which I have yet to try. The Stiletto is probably the most misunderstood amp that Mesa has ever put out, but if your considering finding a used one it really is fantastic at what it is.

This review was completely unsolicited and any opinion is my own.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

The Story of David Gilmour's The Black Strat

Some instruments take on a life of their own and become legends in their own right. They have stories to them, which may or may not be 100% factual. It's important to remember that these instruments would not be so interesting if it had not been for the players playing them. I'm writing down some of these stories mostly for my own interest, and this is one such instrument.

David Gilmour's Black Fender Stratocaster
David picked up his now legendary Black Strat in May of 1970 from Manny's in New York City to replace another black strat that had been stolen a few weeks before. It was originally a 68 or 69 sunburst body that was painted black. It had a late 60's maple neck with a large headstock and 21 frets. It had a white pickguard and a 3-way pickup selector. It's the same guitar that was featured on Pink Floyd's Live at Pompeii. In the film you can see it changes volume knobs from a strat to a tele knobs. 

David has experimented a lot with the guitar, changing knobs, pickups, and necks. In 1972 he tried to add an XLR input to help eliminate noise when using the Fuzz Face, apparently he wasn't happy with the results and they reversed the mod filling in and repainting the hole. Later that same year the neck was replaced with a 63 neck that had a rosewood fretboard, he used the rosewood fretboard for recording and touring for Dark Side of the Moon all the way up through 1978 when he recorded his first solo album. In 1973 he added a humbucker briefly between the bridge and middle pickup and also added the mini switch. After the humbucker was removed the mini switch was changed to turn on the bridge and neck pickups at the same time.

In 1974 the white pickguard was changed to the black single ply pickguard that we are now familiar with. The middle and neck pickups have remained the same but the bridge pickup was changed in 76 to a DiMarzio FS-1 and then changed to an over wound Seymour Duncan SSL1C ("C" for custom) which was later offered as a production model now known as the SSL5. 

In 1978 the rosewood neck was replaced by a Grover Jackson neck with a Fender logo, which was replaced again by a Charvel neck in 1982. During 1983 Floyd Rose and Kahler wammy's were becoming very popular due to guys like Eddie Van Halen and David decided to try having a Kahler wammy installed, which he used on the About Face album and tour. To do this a large chunk was taken out of the body and when the modification was reversed they had to fill it back in and paint over it. David then started using a shortened wammy bar and then switched from a 3-way switch to a 5-way. 

At this time vintage strat prices began rising and David had begun playing a red 57 reissue strat. So in 1986 The Black Strat was loaned to Hard Rock Cafe in Dallas, Texas through 1997. At the request of David the guitar was brought back, the neck was replaced again with a new 57 reissue neck, an orignial Fender bridge was put back in and the hole from the Kahler was filled and painted. 

In July of 2005 I was causally watching Live 8 and witnessed something I thought I would never see in my life time. All four members of the classic line up of Pink Floyd including Rodger Water stepped on to stage to perform. David and Rodger put aside their differences for the first time in 30 years to help raise money for a great cause. For me though, and many other guitar buffs, the icing on the cake was the return of The Black Strat which David has continued to use since. 

If you want to learn more about The Black Strat check out this amazing book by David's long time guitar tech Phil Taylor. And to learn more about David's gear on each album check out Gilmourish.com

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Dave Navarro Gear Guide

ADHD's Gear Guides at any Budget. I'm a firm believer that the tone comes from the hands. If your trying to achieve a certain guitar hero's tone you have to not just have the chops but you've got to get down their style of attack with your picking hand as well. That said every step you take toward finding the right gear is often very inspiring and WILL get you closer to “that” sound. I'm going to break these down into Guitars, Pickups, Pedals and Amps.

Dave Navarro Gear Guide.

Dave Navarro is one of those guys who just doesn't care about what guitar nerds think of him, and for some reason that seems to get under the skin of a lot of guitar players. But lets give the guy some credit, he's been a member of two of the most influential alternative rock bands in history, and been an A list session player for literally dozens of artist from Michael Jackson to Nine Inch Nails to Glen Hughes. He has an amazing cover band Camp Freddy which brings out all kinds of guest stars and has done quite a bit of TV.

Guitars – Dave has used Ibanez guitars, Gibson Les Pauls and Fender Strats but his main weapon of choice is his signature Paul Reed Smith

PRS Dave Navarro Signature – Dave busted up most of his Ibanez guitars while on tour with Janes Addiction in the late 80's and borrowed a PRS from a friend. He was blown away by the quality of the instrument and ordered one right away. A few years later he settled on a white Custom 24 which stood out from the rest of the PRS line.

PRS SE Dave Navarro – The incredibly well built PRS SE line is one of the best built budget lines in the industry. Dave was cautious, wanting it to be as close to the original as possible. It's an excellent budget friendly model.

Ibanez RG Series - Dave used Ibanez guitars in the early days of Jane's Addiction and has recently pulled one out for older songs. The Ibanez Premium and Prestige lines are well built but heads up if your looking at the budget models, some are fine, others have problems.


Pickups – Dave's Pickups haven't changed at all since his early days with PRS. A PRS HFS in the bridge and a Vintage Bass in the neck.

Seymour Duncan Hot Rodded Humbucker Set – I've mentioned this set on the site before and I still recommend it to anyone who needs a good versatile 2 humbucker set. It's the number one replacement set for a reason.

Pedals- While Dave likes to try out new pedals every so often, his live rig is a “if it ain't broke don't fix it” type situation. Wah, overdrive, chorus, and 2 delays. He's also been known to also throw in a phaser or an octave pedal at times.

Dunlop Hendrix Wah – While he has a couple of others Dave's choice has always been the Hendrix wah. It's simple, it sounds good, it works.

IbanezTS808- So sometimes this is a TS9 or a Boss OD1, Dave is not picky he just needs something to boost the mids for solos. 


Boss CH-1 Chorus – Dave sometimes has two of these, one for the clean sound and one to add some shimmer or thickness to the leads. It's been used by everyone from David Gilmour to Zakk Wylde.

Boss DD-3 Digital Delay - Dave loves delay. Check out his solo on Three Days. He keeps 2 or sometimes 3 on his board. One for ambient repeats, One for harder repeats that he likes to play with. Sometimes he has a third one for the cleans.

Visual Sound H2O - Not what Dave uses but it includes a beautiful sounding chorus and an analog voiced digital delay. Well built and well priced considering what you get, this is the new version of one of my favorite pedals. 


Amps – In the studio Dave likes to use a lot of different amps including a Bogner Uberschall, a Vox AC30, a Fender Twin, and Fender Deluxe. But his work horse for many years now has been a pair of Marshall JCM900's nicknamed Tangerine and Peach.
By the way, which one is Peach?

Marshall JCM900 - Dave Navarro played JCM900's since they came out. There is an internet rumor that Dave has his 900's modded but he says he hasn't. A lot of guys don't care for them because they can be bright sounding if not cranked up. And like a lot of Marshalls, some sound better than others.

Fender Deluxe Reverb – For larger gigs Dave needed something to use for cleans at louder volumes other than his Marshall's. A favorite of players everywhere, it makes a killer pedal platform to work with.


MarshallDSL40C – For a cheaper alternative the little brother of the DSL100 is hard to beat. It has a nice clean tone and a killer lead channel for all types of rock and blues.

Obviously there are a lot of alternatives out there but these are a great place to start your tone search. 

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Joe Bonamassa Gear Guide

ADHD's Gear Guides at any Budget. I'm a firm believer that the tone comes from the hands. If your trying to achieve a certain guitar hero's tone you have to not just have the chops but you've got to get down their style of attack with your picking hand as well. That said every step you take toward finding the right gear is often very inspiring and WILL get you closer to “that” sound. I'm going to break these down into Guitars, Pickups, Pedals and Amps.


Joe Bonamassa Gear Guide.

Joe Bonamassa is perfect guitar hero for the modern age. He penchant for vintage and boutique gear, his DIY attitude in promotion and touring and his monster chops all come together to create a modern guitar hero in an era that struggles to find stand out musicians.

Guitars – Joe has used a lot of guitars, but is best known for his love of vintage Les Pauls. He has also used Strats, Flying V's and Music Man's. He owns several 59 burst, but usually takes copies on tour with him as the originals are worth six figures each.

Gibson Joe Bonamassa“Skinnerburst”- Holy Moly! For the price of a good used car you can own a limited run copy of Joe's #1 59 Les Paul. Even the most wealthy among us might pass on such an instrument but if you were to buy the real thing you'd probably pay 50 times that amount... ok maybe it's not such a bad deal.

Gibson Les PaulTraditional – With the Les Paul Standard changing quite a bit from the original die hard purist have turned to the Traditional line which is closer to what Les Pauls were in the early years. While not dead on to a 59 burst these are still everything you want in a Les Paul for the average guitarist. 

Epiphone Joe Bonamassa LesPaul– This Pelham Blue Les Paul takes the place of the Bonamassa Gold Top Epiphone put out a couple of years ago. It comes with Gibson Burstbuckers that Joe likes in his own guitars and is better built that the standard Epiphone Les Paul.


Pickups- While almost any PAF style humbucker will work Joe seems to like a slightly hotter than PAF humbucker in all but his original 59's

Gibson Burstbuckers- While the new Standards have Burstbucker Pro's Joe perfers the Burstbucker 2 in the neck and Burstbucker 3 in the bridge possition.

Seymour Duncan Joe Bonamassa Pickup Set- Joe's 59 Skinnerburst took a ride over to the Seymour Duncan custom shop where it was then measured and tested to get as close as possible to the real thing. The were released in a limited run with only 1959 sets of them being made. Contact the Seymour Duncan Custom Shop for more info.

Seymour Duncan Vintage Blues Set- This is a great sounding replacement set for any lover of classic blues rock. For a bit more grit try the Pearly Gates set, a copy of reverend Billy's 59.


Pedals- Joe likes to switch up his pedalboard quite a bit. But his basic sound is very straight forward. A wah, a fuzz, a few different low gain overdrives and a delay or two. He talked about his lack of need for pedals here.

Ibanez TS808- This pedal into a cranked up clean amp is the sound of everyone from Stevie Ray Vaughn to Gary Moore to... well, Joe Bonamassa of course. Not everyone is a fan of these but every guitarist should have one in their stash.

EHX East River Drive - My favorite budget version of the TS808 pedal. Period. When looking to make the best TS clone EHX founder Mike Matthews reached out to renowned TS808 expert Mike Piera of Analogman fame. They nailed it!


Way Huge Pork Loin – A very tweakable pedal, it features a blend knob to mix your clean and the new drive. It also has several internal trimpots to change the sound.



Dunlop Joe Bonamassa CryBaby- One of the flagship wah pedals from Dunlop it features full sized electronic components and none of the surface mounted components that some people feel robs tone. It also has a switchable buffer, which Joe leaves on but you can turn it off if your fuzz doesn't play well with it.

Dunlop Joe Bonamassa Fuzz Face- Fuzz Faces don't always play well with humbuckers, Joe's Fuzz Face is the exception. It sounds fantastic with a slightly hot humbucker and now there is a Mini Fuzz Face version.

Fulltone Supa-Trem – Many people including Joe consider this be the most natural sounding Tremolo sound outside of a Fender Deluxe Reverb.

BossDD-3 Delay- Hold on a minute, this isn't vintage or boutique. Nope this is as straight forward a Digital Delay pedal that is made. And it rocks.

Fuchs Cerberus Tri-Mode Overdrive- This isn't used by Joe but his main sound is a blend of Marshall's, Dumble's, and Fender's. This pedal by renowned amp builder Andy Fuchs is designed to give you all three.

Wampler Plexi-Drive- Wampler's amp in a box pedals are a great way to expand your tonal pallet without spending money on another amp. This one does everything from a JTM45 to JMP. Their Euphoria is a great alternative to the Dumble.




Amps- This is a tough category. Joe relies Marshall Silver Jubilee heads and Dumble clones. These can get expensive, especially with Jubilee heads being bought up by Mr. Bonamassa and Mr. Slash and Alexander Dumble's amps running the price of a house in some places. But don't worry I've got some ideas


Marshall DSL100H – This thing is a favorite not only of metal guys but blues rock guys like Gary Moore and Joe Bonamassa. It sounds great at low volumes, but also comes in a 40w and a 15w. Crank up the clean channel and throw a TS9 up front and the magic starts to happen.

Fender Blues Junior- These are great little amps used by people for more than just blues, it covers the Fender spectrum in spades, add a Wampler Euphoria pedal and your gold.

Fuchs Full House 50 - The casino series from Mr. Fuchs covers Dumble sounds and vintage Marshall-y tones all day long. With a built in boost, channel switching, fantastic sounding reverb and amazing touch sensitivity this may be the only thing you need other than a guitar and a cable.

Egnator Tweaker- When these came out they were all the rage in internet chat rooms and for a good reason. They are well built, flexible, and take pedals well. They also sound good at lower volumes which can't be said about all tube amps.


Obviously there are a lot of alternatives out there but these are a great place to start your tone search. 

Friday, November 21, 2014

Jim Root Gear Guide

ADHD's Gear Guides at any Budget. I'm a firm believer that the tone comes from the hands. If your trying to achieve a certain guitar hero's tone you have to not just have the chops but you've got to get down their style of attack with your picking hand as well. That said every step you take toward finding the right gear is often very inspiring and WILL get you closer to “that” sound. I'm going to break these down into Guitars, Pickups, Pedals and Amps.


Jim Root Gear Guide.


Jim Root is the epitome of rock n roll cool. Serving as the principle riff-mister in both Stone Sour and Slipknot his brutal down tuned riffs are powerful and memorable. His weapons of choice have changed over the years but we are going to focus on the last few years. Despite his use of complicated switching systems you can easily get his sound using a pretty straight forward setup. Jim has been using various Fender signature models, EMG pickups, and Orange amps for his straight up tone, and uses effects pedals to add flavors.

Guitars – Jim Root has been using Fender guitars for the last several years. He is the only artist with a signiture Telecaster, Stratocaster and a Jazzmaster. All three are setup mostly the same with Mahogany bodies, and maple necks. He prefers harder ebony and maple fretboards over rosewood. A single volume knob and a three way switch for the EMG 81/60 humbucker set.

Fender Jim Root Signature Telecaster- This was Jim's first production signature guitar. It comes in either a black or white flat nitrocellulose finish that beats up easily. The fretboard has a 12” radius not quite as flat as most modern shred guitars but still easy to get low action. The neck has a modern Fender C shape, again not as thin as a lot of modern shreders but not what I would call thick.

Fender Jim Root Stratocaster- A few years later, Fender put out a Stratocaster version of Jim's Telecaster. Other than the body shape, the only difference is a compound radius fretboard.

Fender Jim Root Jazzmaster – The most recent addition to the Jim Root line up is a signature Jazzmaster. Again featuring the compound radius it also uses a more durable polyurethane finish.

Squire Jim Root Telecaster- For a budget model the Squire Jim Root Telecaster is a well built guitar. It saves money by having a rosewood fretboard and covered passive pickups, but still includes the 12” radius fretboard. And you can always add the EMG's later.

Fender Blacktop Stratocaster – Another cool budget alternative, the Fender Blacktop series packs a lot of bang for the buck. Add in some extra springs on the wammy for more stable tuning and your in business.

A Tip on Strings- If you want to try out down tuned riffs slap a higher string gauge on your guitar. Rule of thumb is for every full step down, go up a gauge. If your used to 9's or 10's try 11's or 12's for Slipknots songs.

Pickups- Jim's choice of pickups hasn't changed much over the years. He likes the EMG 81/60 set that a lot of modern metal guys favor.

EMGJH James Hetfield Humbucker Set- The EMG JH set is an 81/60 combo that is aggressive. The 60 cleans up well while the 81 has a sound favored by Zakk Wylde, Kerry King and of course Jim Root.

SeymourDuncan JB/Jazz Set- EMG's have a particular sound and while Duncan's Blackouts also have that covered if you want a passive set that can be used for similar tones the Duncan Hotrod set does an excellent job of covering a lot of territory. This is the number one replacement pickup set in the world for a reason.

Pedals- Jim has a lot of gear, pedals and racks galore but his sound is pretty straight forward. He likes pedals to add flavor and likes to get most of his sound from his guitars and amps.

Dunlop Rotovibe – While neither a UniVibe or a Phaser, Jim has stated that he loves the Rotovibe in the studio but that it's not always practical for use in a Slipknot show.

EHX Small Stone Nano Phaser- Jim swaps this and an MXR Phase 90 on a regular basis. Either one works great, run it in front of your drive pedals for more of a vibe feel.

Digitech Envelope Filter Synth Wah- Jim loves Envelope Filters, often having three different ones for crazy sound effects. While most of the analog filters only cover certain sound the Digitech and do those and so much more.

MXR Carbon Copy- Most delays will work for the way Jim uses them but the versatile Carbon Copy has become a favorite of players everywhere. Unless you need a lot of different delay presets this pedal works great.

Maxon Overdrive OD-9 – The original TS9 pedal by the guys who made them originally. Great for punching up solos, cutting through the mix, or giving your passive pickups a hotter sound.

Wampler Triple Wreck – While Jim has used a Rectifier in the past he is more recently associated with Orange amps. I find I can get extremely close to his sound using this pedal running into a clean amp. Plus it's just so versatile.



Amps- Jim Root's live set up uses the Orange Rockerverb, but in the studio he has used everything including Mesa Rectifiers, Bogner's and Budda's. He also has a signature Orange Terror head that is voiced to sound like his Rockerverb.

OrangeRockerverb 100 – Available as a two channel head or combo this amp has an aggressive upper midrange that Orange amps are famous for. It's also available in a 100w or 50w.

Orange #4 Jim Root Signature Terror Head- voiced after Jim's trademark Rockerverb heads this signature head takes the Tiny Terror head platform to a whole new level. For a single channel head they are remarkably flexible, and sound killer. And while made for bedrooms and small clubs put it on top of a miked 4x12 cab and it can handle the job.

Mesa Boogie Dual Rectifier- Used early in Jim's career these amps are very versatile, and can be found on stages around the world.

If you want to experiment with the Orange sound but your not sure if that's what you want check out IK Multimedia's Amplitube. They have a great model of the Rockerverb making dialing in those brutal sounds is easy.

Obviously there are a lot of alternatives out there but these are a great place to start your tone search.