Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Jammin Gift Ideas for Christmas

It's that time of year again......The time when you spend quality time with loved ones and buy gifts for them. Every year i get asked what would be some good gift ideas for the musician in some one's life. I am gonna give you some good ones.

For the guitar and bass player in your life some good under $10 gifts would be pick holders that attach to the guitar and look like over sized picks. Also some picks, guitar cleaners and cleaning rags are cool. Some cool gift ideas under $20 are guitar stands. You can always use a guitar stand. Instructional and music song books are always a great idea, there are even some for drummers too! Some head phone and ear buds are an awesome idea for parents who want their kid to play but could use some piece and quiet too! There are a Marshall set of ear phones but they are over $20. Also in around the $20 range is guitar slides, glass and metal ones. They are so much fun to use. A couple packs of strings and capoes are always use full. Close to $20 bucks are some cool old school looking Fender tins. They have awesome pictures of Fender guitars and amps of old and ooze old Americana. They look great hanging in any jam or practice room and are even good looking enough to go in any room of the house! For $14.99 Rock Bottom has some really cool 3 pack of Fender strings that come with a cool fender collector baseball. It is very unique and a present that will make anyone look cool who gets it for someone. Prices from $20 up are some really good guitar/bass cables. We carry top quality Fender and Dimarzio brands. For a big gift for the musician in your life are any T.C. Electronic floor pedals. They are top quality pedals. They have many kinds like delay, phaser, etc. Always a winner are the fender Mustang amps. They hook up to your computer and have a million effects and sounds that are down loadable. The Mustang 1 starts at $99. For the electric guitar player the hot new guitar is the Charvel DC series. They are hot rodded goodness that look incredible and sound killer. They start at $349. They have a finish on them to die for. Also I have heard that Jonathon bought out a music store that was going out of business and we are the only store that has the amount of these that we do. They are not available to retail again until after the new year. Rock Bottom has scored a bunch and they will go really quick so get down and get one! For the acoustic player the new E.S.P.s are really hot. That company has really upped their game and come out with a great product. We also have some good quality guitar packs that have everything you need to get started. Depending on the kind of guitar it has a guitar, amp, strap, picks, tuner and dvd that come with it.

Foe the bass player lots of stuff listed above works plus the hot bass amp right now is a little practice amp called the Ampeg BA112. It is small but packs a ton of power and boom. It has that classic Ampeg sound too! There are also bass packs that got everything you need to get started playing. One thing that is good for a bass or guitar player is a cool new strap. They come in leather, have your favorite bands name on it and come in tons of colors and are made from a ton of different materials too.

For the drummer in your life his favorite type of sticks is always a winner. There is also some cool double stick set holding stick holders that clamp to a drum stand or cymbal stand. That way they can always have a stick within reach when playing that gig! They come in at under $20 too! Any drummer can always use "more cowbell." Cowbells start at $14.99 and go up from there. There is also tons of cool percussion stuff that adds color to any drummers playing. Things like Cabasa or a Guiro.

For any musician a ukulele is a cool little gift. They seem to be real popular right now. Rock Bottom has them starting at $39 and have soprano, baritone and concert sizes! Rock Bottom also has an assortment of hip T-Shirts and Hats that sport your favorite amp, guitar, drum, musical brand and even Rock Bottom!

These are some of what I think makes cool gifts at all levels of price range. Something I think makes a great gift too is GIFT CERTIFICATES for lessons! I got them and they make great stocking stuffers ;) Rock Bottom offers them for the store as well. So while your out Christmas shopping this year come hit Rock Bottom!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Hey Turkey: Maintain Your Instrument!!!!!!!!!

This is a special "Thanksgiving" post. It's called "Hey turkey: Maintain Your Instrument!!!!!!!" There comes a time in every players life when a string breaks or something falls off your guitar. You need to be a little handy with tools and do some "preventative" maintenance along with learning your chops. Let's start with your guitar strings. In research I have done into string companies it seems the average life of a pack of strings is about 20 playing hours. That means when you play your guitar for 20 hrs its time to change strings. I say if your someone who plays everyday for about an hour or 2 change your strings every 2-3 weeks. If you play more adjust it to a shorter time between strings. You can let them go as long as you can stand it too. If the strings are all black, rusted and grimy , change them. If they start not staying in tune and sound stale, change them. I will do a whole piece later on to show you how to do string changing. String changing is a whole article itself. Another thing to check every time before you plug up and play is your input jack. Your input jack is that thing you plug your guitar cable in that goes to your amp. On the input jack is a little nut that comes loose very easily. Before you plug up just check and see if it's finger tight. Even if there is a lock washer on it and your guitar cost $1,000,000 they come loose. It will drive you turkey mad. Another thing that tends to come loose as a thanksgiving goose is your strap pegs. Those are the mysterious things that your guitar strap goes on. They tend to have screws in them. You wanna check them every once in a while. Take your fingers and grab them. if they are loose tighten them up with a screw driver. Be careful not to over tighten, just make them snug. With any screw on a guitar, just make sure they are snug. When you over tighten a screw going into wood you can strip the screw hole. It can be fixed but it is a pain. Next let's move to your tuners. Alot of tuners come loose too. There are 3 spots they come loose. Not every guitar has all 3 spots. On top of the peg ( where your string is attached) is a nut. Grab it with your finger (easiest when your changing strings and they string as already off) and if it's loose tighten it snug with a proper set of pliers. On the back of the head stock the pegs are attached with screws, take a small screw driver and make sure they are snug. On the tuner itself alot of guitar tuners have little screws on the side of them too. Grab the tuner and if it wiggles, tighten the screw. Don't make it too tight or the tuner will be hard to turn. While we are on the subject of screws there are others all over the guitar that vary from guitar to guitar. Just check them, tighten snugly on a regular basis. On your guitar neck you want to check to make sure it stays straight. Look down the neck and if you see a bow take it to a tech who can adjust the truss rod before it gets real bad. Check your frets and make sure they are staying put and are not worn down too bad. Check your nut and make sure it has no cracks and isn't coming off. Check your toggle switch and make sure it still properly moves and is not coming off. Sometimes there is a nut on it too. If it's loose just tighten it. Your volume and tone knobs should turn smoothly and not be loose. Your can normally take the knob itself off and there is a "pole" that sticks up typically with a nut on it too. Take the old gravy fingers and make that nut finger tight. Also when you are playing and turn the knobs there should be no crackling. Next check your pick ups and make sure they are the right height you want. They adjust with screws. Check your bridge area out. Make sure it is the right height and your saddles are in good shape and not worn down or worn themselves to a point where they wiggle. Now to the last thing I can think of is to check the body out. Make sure it is still staying in one piece and all that cranberry goodness. All the things I have went over are for an electric guitar or electric bass. An acoustic guitar has alot less to check over but you can apply most of the things we have went over. Regular maintenance can keep your guitar in rocking shape for may years. If you love your guitar you will take care of it <3. If you have any major problems take it to a qualified repair person. We have a couple great ones in our area. I can point you to them. Have a great Thanksgiving and write me a darn Thanksgiving song!!!!!! I don't know of any!!!!!!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Learn From: Alice In Chains

This edition of "Learn From" is from the 90's alternative/metal/grunge band Alice In Chains. Alice In Chains formed in 1987 in Seattle Washington. They came into prominence as part of the 90's grunge movement along with Soundgarden, Nirvana and scores of other flannel wearing rockers. The original band consisted of Layne Staley on vocals, Jerry Cantrell on guitar and vocals, drummer Sean Kinney and bass player and current "Celebrity Rehab" alum Mike Star. Star was replaced in 1993 with Mike Inez. I guess they just wanted someone with the same name so they couldn't forget what the bassist name was! The band has sold over 35 million albums. They released the albums Facelift, SAP, Dirt, Jar of Flies, Alice in Chains and the new album with new singer Black Gives Way to Blue. Their music was worlds different than their contemporaries in grunge. They were to metal to be grunge and mellow to be metal. Layne Staley and Jerry Cantrell wove beautifully dark and melodic vocal harmonies. The likes of which had not been heard since bands from back in the day like the Beach Boys and Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young. They did them in a way all their own though. It seems like every hard rock band out today has ripped off the way A.I.C. did their vocals. Just listen to any modern rock station and you will hear it. Godsmack, Taproot, Shinedown and way way too many others to list. None can do it quite like Alice and none ever will. There is years worth of vocal study in these A.I.C. albums. The songs take you on a journey. They go from the snarling heaviness of a song like We Die Young http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3XtZUWeADM0 to the seductive and hypnotic-ness of a song like "Don't Follow." http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eBB2OS4IoTs&feature=related
.They have made some of the best most original songs ever.period. Not since the likes of Led Zeppelin has a band been able to be heavy as hell and mellow at the same time. The lyrics were second to n one also. Layne could make you feel what he was singing. Growing up were I did my friends and family were living his lyrics. We related to him. Even if you could not relate, Layne wrote so well you felt his story. The band was amazing together. Tight as any in music history. Jerry Cantrell could play his ass off to. Not only a monster riff writer but a soloist up with the best. Here is some of his licks I am diggin at the moment. The song "Got Me Wrong." While there is no official solo for the song, he weaves some hellfire licks throughout the whole song. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FkI2W52ut-4
Alice In Chains is one the bands from the 90's that will go down in musical history much the same way as Black Sabbath, Led Zep and the Beatles. They are that damn good. Check them out. Layne Staley died in 2002. Singer William DuVall has replaced him. He is not Layne but is doing a great job. Their last album, Black Gives Way To Blue, is as good as any Alice album. In 2011 original bass player Mike Star passed away. The re-united Alice is everyone but Layne from the 1993 line-up. Do yourself a favor an get all the Alice In Chains albums and get to learning everything you can from them. It will make you a better player, songwriter and singer!

Friday, November 4, 2011

Student Spotlight: Carter Kight

This edition of "Student Spotlight" is on 13 year old, North Augusta middle School student, Carter Kight. Carter has been playing guitar about 2 and 1/2 years and started lessons with me back in the beginning of January 2011. Carter originally wanted to play drums at first, but drums take up a ton of room in a house, so his parents got him a guitar for Christmas instead. Carter is the only one in his family who plays an instrument. His family loves music, they just dont play and are very encouraging to him about his playing. Carter's dream guitar is a vintage K Archtop. He doesn't really have a favorite band or player, he likes to many to choose just one, but if he had to choose one on the spot it would be Son House. If he could be a guitar player for any band in history it would be the White Stripes. Carter loves Jack White's slide work. If he could play any where in the world he would play in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean on a ship. It would just be really cool. After he goes to high school he would like to go to college and major in music. Carter is regularly jammin with his buddies, two of which are fellow guitar students of mine, Taylor Temples and Brian Yonn. Musically in 5 years Carter sees himself jamming in a band and writing songs, getting out there and performing so he can reach people that would like his music. What is he most valuable thing Carter has taken from lessons so far? He says learning all the chords in all the voicings has been the most valuable. Gets him able to play all over the neck. Carter loves guitar so much he plays before he goes to school and plays everyday from the time he gets home from school until he goes to bed, taking a break only for homework and chores! The most embarrassing thing on his Ipod? It's a bunch of Hannah Montana and Jonas brothers songs that "accidentally" got put on there fro his sister. Carter has some advice for someone wanting to play or just starting. The advice is don't give up. When you first start it's really hard and can get boring. Play every day and you'll get better, have more fun things to play and you will get good. Just stay with it. Carter has really been working hard lately. He has improved a ton over the past couple months. It is obvious that he has a tremendous love for music and guitar. He has shown me a great work ethic on his guitar. he has learned and completed all work I have gave him. His is going to turn into a hell of a player and is sounding good now. He has a love for great music that lets him have really broad musical tastes. He just doesn't like one style of music, he likes music that is good, be it Avenged Sevenfold or Son House. I look forward to seeing good things from Carter Kight as he grows up. So here is to you Carter......keep rockin'........keep playin'.........and keep having fun!!!!!!!!