Hey Man, Nice Rack: A Selected History of Rack Effects

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Just like guitars, effects come in all shapes and sizes. For guitarists, the first effects were built right into amplifiers. Reverb and tremolo were about all you could hope for, and about a decade or so after that, the fuzz box made an appearance. While these effects seem downright quaint by today’s standards, they are still used on hundreds of recordings and thousands of gigs each year. There was a time in the not-so-distant past where guitarists were faced with decisions about how they should add effects to their rigs. True, there were a few amps and even guitars with built-in effects, guitarists settled mostly on the pedal approach. It is easy to see why: pedals were pretty inexpensive, sounded pretty cool, and most music required just a handful of different sounds. Continue reading

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The Most Interesting Whammy Bars In the World

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Whammy bars, or more properly called vibrato systems, are one of the oldest methods of manipulating the sound from the electric guitar itself. Through the years, many have come and gone, and a handful of designs have endured. Perhaps the ones that fell by the wayside were too bulky, or they couldn’t get the right rock stars to sing their praises. In some cases, they solved some problems while introducing a few more. This article is about some that we have either forgot about, or need to know more about. You will find no original Floyd Roses, Kahlers, or Bigsbys in this group. Those designs have lasted for years, and most guitarists are familiar with those. Here, you get the weird, the wacky, and the forgotten mechanical methods to change the pitch of all of the strings at once. Continue reading

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The 5th Annual Seymour Duncan Notes For Notes Benefit

PeterFramptonNotesForNOtes1On June 7, 2015 we celebrated the fifth annual Notes For Notes benefit concert here in Santa Barbara’s Lobero Theatre. This is a huge event on our calendars not only because it’s a night of great music and great tones, but because funds raised by the evening go towards supporting music education for kids. Notes For Notes designs, equips and staffs after-school recording studios inside Boys & Girls Clubs in LA, Nashville, Santa Barbara and is rapidly expanding across the country providing free access to professional-quality instruments including guitars, basses, drums, keyboard and synths, DJ gear, digital music workstations and full recording facilities. Seymour Duncan CEO Cathy Carter Duncan explained the reasoning behind the concerts, “Supporting the capacity for kids to explore and discover the power of music is extremely important to us. We all know how important those early musical experiences are in shaping our lives, connecting with other like-minded musicians and inspiring each other to create.”

Last year’s concert featured Jimmy Vivino and BCB, Joe Bonamassa, Robben Ford, Rich Robinson, and our very own Seymour W. Duncan, raising almost $100,000 with the help of our generous fellow gear companies and supporters. This year our dear friend Peter Frampton performed, with the Notes For Notes Youth Band kicking things off with a 45 minute set of great tunes in front of a sold-out crowd. Frampton played a Les Paul which was donated by Gibson, and the guitar was signed and auctioned off at the end of the night.

Below are some photos from the the concert and the VIP reception. Thanks to everyone who came out and enjoyed some great music in support of Notes For Notes! See you next year! Continue reading

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Interview With Periphery’s Mark Holcomb

Mark HolcombProg metal juggernauts Periphery have been on a roll lately with the release of Juggernaut: Alpha and Omega and now a European tour. Their style of sophisticated chords, poly-rhythmic patterns and the combined powers of Misha Mansoor, Jake Bowen and Mark Holcomb provide for a sound that is immense, with complex patterns and excellent musicianship. Here’s our interview with guitarist Mark Holcomb on his gear, the album and their tours. Continue reading

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7 “Easy-To-Play” Songs To Add To Your Guitar Repertoire

Perhaps Robert Tepper said it best in his song for the film Rocky IV: “There’s no easy way out/There’s no short cut home” For guitar players, most of the time, this is most definitely true.

Perhaps you’ve just purchased your first guitar. Maybe you’re returning to the instrument from a long hiatus. It’s possible that you have been commissioned by misguided but well-intentioned friends to “play some songs” at a gathering. Whatever the case may be, who doesn’t love playing a couple of easily identifiable songs on their guitar, especially if they’re easy to learn? Continue reading

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Chase Fraser of Decrepit Birth and Continuum

Chase and his Nazgul/Sentient-equipped LTD

Chase and his Nazgul/Sentient-equipped LTD M-1000VNS.

Chase Fraser is a busy man. You would be too if you were holding down guitar spots in not one, but two full-time Technical Death Metal bands. Since 2010, Chase has been holding down the rhythms in Decrepit Birth, and was already the mastermind behind the super group Continuum, featuring members of Son of Aurelius, Flesh Consumed, Arkaik, and Deeds of Flesh. Continuum’s new release “The Hypothesis” is described as “highly calculated”, “neck-breaking”, “concise” and “devastating”.

He’s also yet another one of the metal players to discover what a brutal combination Duncan’s Nazgul and Sentient pickups are in his guitars. Just in time to track some of his parts for the upcoming Decrepit Birth release, too. We recently caught up with Chase for a moment to see what he thought after having some time to record with the pickups, as well as get up-to-date on Decrepit Birth and Continuum happenings. Continue reading

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How To Practice And Actually Become a Better Musician

Practice makes perfect. Unless you’re doing it all wrong.

As musicians we understand that repeated study of your instrument and its various techniques is a necessity if we wish to master it. That being said, we are often told to “practice”, and yet no one really tells us exactly how to do that. Continue reading

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Mark Holcomb (Periphery) Q&A with Special Guest Keith Merrow – June 22

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Periphery’s Mark Holcomb and special guest Keith Merrow will join us on our forum on Monday June 22 for a live Q&A about Mark’s new Alpha and Omega signature pickups.

Join us on Monday June 22 at 2:00PM to 3:00 PDT / 5:00PM to 6:00 EDT / 10:00PM to 11:00PM London / 7:00AM to 8:00AM Melbourne (June 23) for a live Q&A with Periphery’s Mark Holcomb here in the Pickup Lounge! The thread will be added to The Pickup Lounge right before the Q&A goes live. Continue reading

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That’s Different: 10 Strangest Production Guitars

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Tradition and the world of guitar are funny things. Innovation can breed new classics for future generations. Then we have the guitars on this list. Yes, this is certainly a case where tradition wins the mighty battle. I applaud companies for coming up with new designs, and all companies must if they want to survive. I also love new ideas. Here, we can see that the road to progress is paved with models we either happily forgot about or wished more people knew about. This isn’t a list of bad guitar models, however. I would seriously rock several of these. This is my list of some bad ideas thrown in with a few good ones that just didn’t catch on. I picked guitars that were actually in production at some point, and left the one-offs for another list. We finish up the list with a few technologies that really never took off. Continue reading

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New Seymour Duncan Pickup SETS

Black-Winter-set-8-strgGetting the best sound out of your guitar has just become easier. Seymour Duncan has taken the guesswork out of matching the correct pickups together and has introduced a line of matched sets that are built to work together and sound great, right out of the box. While you will still be able to obtain individual pickups, the new Seymour Duncan Sets provide Ready To Go Tone that will upgrade the sound of any 6, 7, or 8 string guitar. This article will showcase some of the new Sets coming out of the oven, ready to be part of your next tonal upgrade. Continue reading

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