Thursday, October 28, 2010

Student Spotlight: Jeramie McCloud

This months student spotlight is on a 25 year old self professed "army brat" Jeramie McCloud. Jeramie has been playing guitar seriously for 11 years now. He has been taking lessons from me since February 2010. He is an accomplished metal player. He is part of a band from Texas called "Shadow Kill Clan." The band has released a full length cd and it is brutally terrific! I will send you links at the end to check it out. Some of his influences are Slayer, Korn, Slipknot, Pink Floyd, Micheal Jackson and Sade. Being a military brat he has lived all over the country. His dream guitar would be a custom 7 string Gibson Les Paul with Seymour Duncan Blackout pick ups. I asked Jeramie with all the places you have played what places would you like to play? He told me he would love to play in Antarctica because its a cold desolate place, Japan because that's a stop for every one that's a metal great or even space!!!! If he could play guitar for anyone that's ever been around in history it would be Micheal Jackson. He is a self professed Micheal Jackson freak! If he could tour the world with any band it would be Prodigy. Jeramie got into playing guitar because his grand dad played. He wanted to play metal because there are not too many black people represented in metal. Another thing that got him into playing was seeing Hall and Oats on a TV Christmas special playing Jingle Bells and the white stratocaster being played mesmerized him. The Van Halen video "Hot For Teacher" was also a turning point. Seeing the close up of guitar god Eddie Van Halen got him the guitar bug. Why did Jeramie want to come get lessons? He wanted to unlearn bad habits and be more than just a "metal" guy. He just wanted to get better and be able to convey more emotion in his music.The things Jeramie have gotten the most out of lessons? He has had alot of his questions answered and it is just plain exciting to come. The most embarrassing thing on his ipod? Britney Spears and other bubble gum pop!! Jeramie is an accomplished metal player with the desire to expand his musical horizons. I am pleased to be his teacher. Shadow Kill Clan is a great band. I enjoy it .If you like metal you will too. He is an easy going guy with awesome musical aspirations and hopes to be part of our countries armed forces. So here is to you Jeramie....Keep Rockin.....Keep Playing.......and Keep Having Fun!!!!!!!

to check out Shadow Kill Clan go to

Friday, October 22, 2010

The Bizz with the Buzz:'Ear It Is Mate by:Stoney Cannon

The Biz with the Buzz: 'Ear It is Mate...

So I know it's been a while since our last get-together kiddies and by now you should have, in addition to a smoking hot band, a choice visual representation of your group for promotional purposes. You and your band buds have marked your spot in time with a great photo usable for any promotional opportunity that may come your way including ink press PLUS you've created a cool bio that's somehow short and to the point yet chock full of information on your soon-to-be drawing band! You've even managed to take all of that, toss in an easy to decipher logo and spread it across the interwebs just in case a prospective booker or journalist prefers to fetch your info online. It's all there. Right? Hmmm...seems that something might be missing. You have all the tools to get those first "in the trenches" gigs but you're already thinking ahead...thinking about the bigger clubs, festivals, county fairs, even maybe submitting to try and get a spot during a music conference or one of those online battle of the bands contests that are sponsored by some beer or liquor company. You're thinking - "well dang we need to record that next modern rock hit that we have in our musical arsenal!" You've got a nifty batch of original tunes. You have a need to get 'em out to the world and make ears bleed! You think your bands' tunes are bad ass enough to rock faces off? what are ya gonna do about it?

Over the years young up and coming bands have taken many routes to record their material. In the sixties you had reel to reel recorders, seventies saw the arrival of cassette tape decks, the eighties took those up a notch with inexpensive 4-track cassette recorders, the nineties upped the anti by taking the technology and going digital and of course all along bands could simply fork out some cash and venture into a recording studio. By the time Y2K hit just about any musician with a good computer and a bit of software could track their next opus in the comfort of their own bedroom, garage, kitchen, even bathroom. The dawn of this period unfortunately also led to some of the most God-awful recordings being hoisted on indie music scenes all across the globe ever. Now any yahoo who just happened to have a slew of clueless friends blowing constant smoke up their ass could take that new found false bravado and record and put out 5-star recordings based on the best buddy rating system. Too bad other rating systems usually gave these same recordings a "suck" rating. Hey I know, it's tough. Quality recording on a shoe-string budget can be tough, but there are ways to make do in the beginning.

Before you are quick to decide that you can be the next Mutt Lange over night because Santa brought you a new PC and cheap recording software for Christmas...don't. Ask around. The good part about the D.I.Y. (do it yourself) PC recording revolution is that for every 100 wannabe's, there are at least a couple of bedroom engineers who have figured out how to make above-average recordings. Chances are, you find one of these guys and you can get a decent demo for a low price, heck maybe even free. Further investigation could turn up some underground studios, places that record top notch stuff but don't really push the fact that they record. These places, like say Sector 7G, offer up great prices in the $15 - $30 per hour range and for those who are good at pre-planning, further discounts for reserved blocks of recording time. An underground studio that charges low rates will always be a better bet over an actual fully functional studio offering similar rates. The part-time studio will be able to relate with your love of music while the big studio probably will just see you as a chance to make some change between their big money commercial jingle accounts. More studio equipment and a snazzy room is great but nothing beats an engineer that is sincerely interested in what you are trying to get on tape. These cool dudes are usually found at the smaller studios. Heck, why do you think the Jam Room in Columbia, SC is so popular? Great rates (the punk rock special is a long-time Jam Room fave) and guys that will go militant to get your band a cool recording.

So, you're ready to commit that first real original masterpiece to you can spam the interwebs with it...well good luck and good hunting!

Here are a few great options to look into:

"Bat Cave Productions" in Evans Ga 706-830-3537

"Sector 7 G" in Augusta Ga

"The Jam Room" Columbia SC

You can check out more about Stoney at

and at

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Acoustic vs Electric: What Should I Start With?

As an instrument teacher I am asked very often, " I am wanting to start playing guitar, what should I buy? An acoustic or electric guitar?" I never really thought about it too much at first. I would just reply " What ever you want." I thought about it real hard about a year ago how i should answer this. I came up with a couple of good answers. I will break them down. That way any people who have just picked up my card and are thinking about playing or purchasing a guitar can get an answer.

1) What type of music do you want to play? This helps me decide what to say. If you are into Nirvana or Slayer why would you want an acoustic? If you are into Jack Johnson or Joni Mitchell why would you want an electric? You pick the guitar based on what you want to play. If you are a rock, metal or grunge person you want the guitar that's going to give you the sound of the music you want to play. That guitar is an electric one. If you are into singer song writers or acoustic music in general you want to get an acoustic guitar. Basicaly you look at the type of guitar the bands that you are into are playing and get the same type. If Toby Keith is playing an acoustic and you like him, you get an acoustic. If Tom Morello is playing electric, you get an electric.

2)What is your budget? If you have around $150 and up and you want to rock out with an electric get one. If your money situation at the time has your budget below that get an acoustic. If you are into the metal and rock you are going to need an amp and that is extra money. If you want to get playing on a low budget go ahead and get the acoustic and then save up for the electric and amp. You can get a good acoustic for $150 and lower. We have tons of them at the store that are great.

Those are the two main factors I look at when answering " Should I get an acoustic or electric to start with?" I have heard a million times that people are told they should with acoustic then go to electric. Really it is up to you. The guitar is set up the same for both. All the theory, chords, scales etc.,you use on one you will use on the other. It is really just based on what kind of music you want to play. I can say that when you start it is EASIER to play an electric because the strings are lighter. Some of the acoustic guitars coming out now a days are alot easier on the hands then they were 10 years ago. So if you are wanting to buy a guitar and start playing think about what I just wrote and then go buy one. See you down at Rock Bottom Music!!!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

The Importance Of..........Knowing Your Fretboard

This installment of "The Importance Of" is about the importance of knowing your fretboard notes. It does any bass or guitar player good to know where any note is at any given time. Knowing the notes helps you find chords when you want and find the root notes of any scale you want. Its also a big plus to know where everything is at when it is time to rip a solo. When you first look at a guitar or bass it can be over whelming looking at all the frets and strings and wondering how many notes you have to learn. In all reality there really isn't much to learn. If you are good at picking up patterns it's especially a breeze! To help you learn them lets get a couple ground rules first. The first one is knowing that the musical alphabet goes A, B, C, D, E, F, G. Once you get to G it all starts back over at A. What you wind up with is a constant cycle of ABCDEFGABCDEFGABCDEFG. The second rule is every note is a whole step away from every other note except for two notes - E to Fand B to C are half steps (reminder- half step is going up or down 1 fret, whole step is going up or down 2 frets). The third thing is know the name of your strings - (6)low E, (5)A, (4)D, (3)G, (2)B and (1) high E. Knowing our rules you can go up each string without even having a chart.We are going to do natural notes only, meaning NO sharps (#) or flats (b). For both E strings you start out with the open E, go a 1\2 step to the first fret for F, whole step G, whole step A, whole step B, half step C, whole step D and a whole step to the 12th fret to bring you back to E. On your 5th or A string you start out with open A, whole step to 2nd fret B, half step C, whole step D, whole step E, half step F, whole step G, and whole step to A. Your D or 5th string, open D, whole E, half F, whole G, whole A, whole B, half C, whole back to D. The 3rd or G string, open G, whole A, whole B,half C, whole D, whole E, half F and whole G. Your 2nd or Bstring is open B, half C, whole D, whole E, half F, whole G, whole A and whole back to B. We only go to our 12th fret because once you get it down up to your 12th fret you realize its the same from the 12th fret upwards as it was from open to your 12th fret. I am including a fret board diagram in this. It goes along with what we just went over. I have had students get the fret board down by doing what we just did and others get it down by using the diagram and still others by just memorizing what I say in lessons. Any way that works for you is the best way. As long as you get it down it does not matter how you do it or how long it takes you. Learn it front wards,back wards across and any which way you can. It is a very very valuable piece of knowledge and it crucial to becoming a guitar master.To see the fretboard diagram bigger just click on the picture and it will blow up to full screen size.Also for the 4 string bass guitar just get rid of the high E and the B string andthe string numbers change to E-4, A-3, D-2, G-1st string. Hope you get the fret board down and realize "The Importance of Knowing Your Fretboard!"

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Spotlight Licks

I am gonna start something new called "Spotlight Licks." It might not be every week but will be close to it. I am going to include myself and other guitar players I come across. It's just little nibbles and bits to expand your lick vocabulary. It might help you or it might not. It is something I think will be fun and give you an insight into a players mind. The first one is one of my licks with the first partbeing from something Micheal Baideme showed me. It is based of the A minor blues scale and the A dorian mode. You will want to use a downstroke for the first notes and an upstroke on the next notes. I am talking about the notes where it is fret 7 on the b string and 8 on the e as the first notes and the up on the 5th fret b and 5th fret e string notes. The rest you can kinda feel how you want to pick it. I just use alternate picking. The first notes ( 7&8 fret one) there is a 1/4 step bend on the 7th fret note on the b string. Just hit the two notes together and bend the 7th fret b string note a 1/4 step, let it ring for a second and proceed to the rest of the lick. You can make the timing however you feel. I can bet once you play it you will make it your own. You can click on the picture of the lick to make it bigger.I got some great licks from great players coming in the future. Have fun and hit that woodshed!!!!

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Product Review: TC Polytune

This months product review is on TC Electronics Polytune floor tuner. I know I have been writing alot about tuners but they are so vital I feel it is necessary. I came across this product and felt it needed to be talked about. I review products I believe in and believe will be an asset to players. This Polytune pedal is one of the most amazing pieces of technology I have come across in a while. I am gonna get the specs out of the way first.

The tuning accuracy is +/- 0.5 cent. The power supply is a 9 volt battery or 9 volt dc adapter. The input impedance is 500kOhm with the pedal on. Reference pitch is A4=435 to 445 Hz (1 hz steps). The current draw is 45-50 mA.

Lets get down to the tuner itself and its features. It is a true bypass pedal. I put the pedal in many areas of my pedal chain to see if it messed with the sound any. I had a Cry Baby wah, Boss d-3 delay, Boss eq, Digitech Whammy pedal, Boss super Chorus, MXR Phaser and an Angry Troll linear boost pedal ran in my board. I put the Polytune before and after every signal pedal to see how it did. It had no effect at all no matter where I put it in the chain. I dug that. I HATE floor tuners because they normally mess with my sound. This one did not. First big reason I liked it. Next is what it can tune. It can tune your guitar and any 4, 5, and 6 string bass. There is a button on the back on each side of the pedal. You hit the button right under where is says Polytune to select guitar or bass. It also lets you pick if you want the display to read the typical "needle" or if you want it to stream. This is a chromatic tuner and a POLYPHONIC tuner. Polyphonic is a fancy way of saying IT TUNES ALL THE STRINGS AT THE SAME TIME!!!!! I had seen the ad for this tuner in a guitar magazine and was very intrigued. Now that I had one to try I was excited to do it. First though I had to set it to the tuning I wanted. The button on the back lets you pick if you want standard, 1/2 step down, whole step down and then some. I picked 1/2 step down and went for it. I strummed all the strings and damn if it did not read them all. It was easy to read. Its got double dots to represent each string, almost like mini side ways needles. I tuned up and then just hit each string individually. If you just hit a string it automatically switches to a chromatic tuner. That works the other way too. If you want to check all the strings you just strum and it automatically switches to polyphonic. It is just as accurate weather its in chromatic or polyphinic modes. You can not only pick if you want standard, 1/2 step down , etc for your tuning, you can also calibrate if you want it to be down to A=435 or up to 445. You just hold down both buttons on the back and use each individual button to go up or down with the pitch. Simply amazing. I tuned up three different guitars with it. My Berkshire, my Gibson Explorer and my acoustic/electric Taylor 810. It tuned each one with ease. I then checked each guitar against two other tuners- an intellitouch clip on tuner and my $300 Korg rack tuner. The TC was dead on. The intellitouch gets you close. The korg gets you there too. The TC was the first tuner that I ever used that I DID NOT HAVE TO DO ANY ADJUSTING TO!!!I have always hated floor tuners, and most clip tuners, because even after I tune I have to sit and still do adjustments. The Polytune was perfect. I used the Polytune at my gig this weekend and also found out two more interesting features. One is that if you use the adapter feature it also has a power out so that you can use it to daisy chain pedal power off of!!! It also has an ambient light sensor on the front of it that automatically adjusts the brightness of the display depending on how bright the area the pedal is in. You will always be able to see the display!!!! This pedal is more than good enough to set up your intonation on your guitar too. I set up my Gibson Explorer with it just to test it out and my ear told me the tuner was dead on.

I know this has been a long winded review. I can not help myself on this one. I actually got goosebumps using this tuner. I got hyped up. I know its a dorky guitar player thing to do but I want everyone to know how great this is. It is a must have for any bass, acoustic/electric and electric guitar player. Rock Bottom Music has them on sale for $99. There is no floor tuner that can compare and it is just as good as any high dollar rack tuner. For $99 you can not beat this. It is a must have for any serious player. Get down to Rock Bottom and check it out. I am very much thanking Jonathon Karow for letting me get my hands on this pedal. The TC Electronics Polytune is beyond a homerun!!

for more on the polytune go to