How to Mic an Amp
Part 1: The Basics

Don't fear the mic! (Illustration: Elise Malmberg)

Recording be be brutal. Tracking vocals is tough. Capturing pianos or acoustic guitars is painstaking work. But recording electric guitars is easy, easy, easy—once you learn a few basics.

The post focuses on the simplest way to record a guitar amp: sticking a single […]

Changing Three Pickups in Five Minutes
(and What It Sounds Like)

This is my kind of pickup change: the easy kind!

I got my hands on the new Seymour Duncan Everything Axe pickguard, which comes with three pre-installed Strat-format humbuckers (JB Jr., Duckbucker, and Little ’59). I’ve always avoided humbuckerized Strats because they remind of really bad ’80s bands. But I love the JB and ’59, […]

Let’s Talk Looping!

Here’s a little video I made yesterday using the looping setup I’ve been using live.

Any other looping geeks out there? I didn’t set out to be one—I just wanted to do a duo band with percussionist extraordinaire Dawn Richardson. Looping seemed, well, kind of ten years ago, but I got sucked […]

Tonefiend DIY Club:
The Bad-Ass Distortion Has Arrived!

Warning: It’s fin-ished!

Here is the fourth and final part of the Tonefiend DIY Club’s first stompbox project: The Bad-Ass Distortion is a variation on the popular Electra circuit, beloved by many boutique builders. Once you box up the mess project, you too will be a boutique geek.


Can Cool Pickups Save a Crappy Guitar?

My cat is skeptical.

Multiple readers have asked some variation of that question since I launched this blog last month. I’ve been wondering myself as I prowled the local music emporia, searching for a fun, but seriously funky guitar to experiment on.


“Only an Idiot Would Put Those Things on a Bass!”

Cheap chic: The Italia Maranello bass

I’ve got this weird Italia Maranello bass I picked up years ago when I was playing in the Eels. It looks like it’s from the ’60, but is, in fact, a modern instrument designed by Brit luthier Trev Wilkinson and built in Korea. The only […]

Tonefiend DIY Club: Project 1, Part 3

Here are the instructions for Part 3 of our first DIY Club project: building a bad-ass distortion pedal.

In this installment, we transfer the circuit we customized in Part 2 from the breadboard to its permanent home on a piece of perfboard. Once you get the hang of this […]

Practice Without an Instrument [VIDEO]

For players who have a little bit too much of a life: five fretting-hand exercises you can practice when you’re away from your guitar or bass. Make sure to run through them in public places so bystanders can alert the mental health authorities admire your prowess.

Vibrato: Do You Shake It Like Ethel?

Can you shake it like Ethel? And more important, SHOULD you?

Almost all of us are guilty of it: repetitive, auto-pilot vibrato.

Can you blame us? Between choosing the right notes, and trying to play them in tune and in time, we don’t always have surplus brain cells to shape each […]

Tonefiend DIY Club: Project 1, Part 2

"Me am play 'Rain Song' again, okay?"

Here are the instructions for Part 2 of our first DIY Club project: building a bad-ass distortion pedal.

Not to spoil any surprises, but in this installment, we take the loud, raw sound we arrived at in Project 1, Part 1:

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