Cage Match: Non-Master Volume vs. Master Volume Amps


Amplifiers have certainly come a long way. Actually, a lot of things have, if you check out the picture above. Notice how Son and Dad are playing a game the girls clearly can’t understand as they wash the dishes in the back, smiling at how much fun the boys are having. Try getting a picture like this past any modern marketing department now! Continue reading

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Going From A Stop Tailpiece To A Floating Bridge

Despite being a huge fan of the dive bombing shredtastic 1980s, from the outset of my guitar playing days I have been a stop tailpiece kind of girl. Granted, my first guitar - an Epiphone S-310 Strat copy - had a tremolo unit, but after breaking a couple of strings trying to sound like Eddie Van Halen, I decided maybe the whole “whammy bar” thing wasn’t for me. When I first saw a Floyd Rose tremolo unit, it looked overly complicated and too high maintenance for me. I was still trying to figure out how to play the right notes in the first place, nevermind bending them in or out of pitch with a tremolo unit. I decided I was going to forego the whammy bar all together and stick to the stop tailpiece that is what makes my Les Paul feel so cozy. Continue reading

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So You Want to Be a Career Musician?


We all know what the myth of being a musician is: the late parties, the screaming crowds, the red carpet, free gear and scores prospective sexual partners throwing themselves at you. You’d better believe that there is a whole lot more to it than that. I am talking about those kinds of things that they don’t take pictures of for magazines, or the things artists don’t get asked about in interviews. Truth is, artists go to to great lengths to protect the image that they project to their audience. This article explains some of the challenges I have had in becoming a professional musician, and what sacrifices artists make to bring you the music you love. Continue reading

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The Retribution Pickups

Retribution Active PThe Retribution pickups were designed with Dino Cazares of Fear Factory and Divine Heresy to provide lots of attack, clarity and increased headroom that 7 and 8-string players like Dino have been looking for. They feature a specially tuned preamp for just the right amount of gain, enhanced attack definition and maximum string clarity. Like the standard Blackouts series and Mick Thomson EMTY Blackouts, they maintain an organic open sound that isn’t sterile but instead is huge and powerful with a lower noise level and an increased dynamic response compared to other active pickups. Continue reading

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The Sound of Synyster Gates

Synyster Gates along with his partner in guitar crime, Zacky Vengeance, burst out of Huntington Beach California and on to the metal scene with Avenged Sevenfold in 2001 with the release of “Sounding of the Seventh Trumpet.” Known for their metalcore as well as their more jazz and prog-rock influences, Avenged’s music features intricate arrangement, duelling harmony guitars, and inventive arrangements. They’ve been featured on Ozzfest tours, won Revolver Golden God awards for the guitar playing, and Synyster has spawned his own gear and clothing line. The dude gets around. Continue reading

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The Perpetual Burn – a review from a non-shredder’s perspective

PerpetualBurnHumbuckerJason Becker is one of those players that has inspired countless guitar players. His command of the guitar blew people’s minds, and when ALS so tragically took his ability to do almost everything, he, with the help of his father still found a way to keep on communicating with people, and create new music, continuing to inspire people even more.

While recording with David Lee Roth, before ALS had robbed Jason of his ability to play guitar, he had been working with Seymour Duncan on a signature pickup. When the ALS diagnosis came the project was shelved. Many years later, Jason had good friend Michael Lee Firkins checking out some of Jason’s old guitars to record some parts for his upcoming album release. They discovered the prototype pickup in one of the guitars and were “‘blown away” by what it was capable of. Jason reached out to Seymour Duncan and they got back to work on creating the signature pickup. The result is the Perpetual Burn humbucker. Check out the full story and more in our Jason Becker interview. Continue reading

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“Locking” Up A Floating Bridge

Dimebag Neck Bridge Pickup Pantera Damageplan

Going crazy on the whammy bar can be a lot of fun!

Floating bridges are great. You can make all sorts of weird and wacky noises diving and raising the whammy bar. From simple pitch variations to harmonic squeals, car engines revving and fluttering noises, floating bridges provide hours of fun. There is a great list of sounds and how to do them in Peter’s article on Five Fun Floyd Rose Tricks.

But what happens if a string breaks? Suddenly your guitar is all out of tune and everything comes grinding to a halt. What happens if you want to switch to drop-D, for example? You get the low E down to D just fine, but everything else goes a bit too sharp. Continue reading

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Friends of SD: Halo Guitars


There are many manufacturers of both custom and production guitars out there. Some of the best of the bunch already outfit their guitars with Seymour Duncan pickups. This series will showcase some of those worthy makers of musical manifestations both aggressive and sublime. Halo Guitars straddles the lines between a Custom Shop and production guitar maker, with a dizzying array of custom options to make the guitar you order uniquely yours. This article will showcase some of their production models, as well as their interactive Custom Shop, where you can virtually build the guitar of your dreams and save the picture on your desktop so you can stare at it longingly until it arrives. Continue reading

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Talking Tone With Jon Skibic of The Afghan Whigs


For 15 years the Afghan Whigs contributed their brand of darkly-themed alt rock to the music scene. After a 13 year hiatus they have returned with a bang, a new album and Jon Skibic on guitar. Jon has a long history on the music circuit playing with the likes of Rock of Ages and Twilight Singers with Greg Dulli. The new album has shown that the group still has what it takes – evolving and maintaining the passion, musicianship and tortured lyrics. Here’s our chat with Jon Skibic on what it has been like and on his gear. Continue reading

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Best Acoustic Guitar Strings

acoustic-guitar-comparisonPlaying an acoustic guitar gives you a certain freedom to travel and jam anywhere you might fancy. It can be loud enough on its own to fill up a room or you can amplify it for a large natural and rich sound. Given how well an acoustic guitar transfers vibrations, you’ll hear even small differences between picks and strings that may be hard for the average audience member to tell if it were an electric guitar plugged into a cranked JCM800. After the recent great bass string comparison from Jon Moody, I thought it would be a good time to compare some of the string choices for acoustics. Let’s start with some basics. Continue reading

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