Lockdown isn’t easy, but it’s revealed some lessons, both trivial (Alexa can fart on demand) and divine (guitar is alive and well).
“Do what you can, where you are, with what you have." —Teddy Roosevelt
Neil deGrasse Tyson recently tweeted: “When Isaac Newton stayed at home to avoid the 1665 plague, he discovered the laws of gravity, optics, and he invented calculus." Turns out, Newton and I don't share much in common. Here's what I've discovered during this forced quiet time of reflection and self-improvement.
1. Alexa can fart on demand.
Want a quick and squelchy fart? She's got it. Want a wet fart? Just ask. Alexa has hundreds of variations, including eggy, angry, gassy … pretty much any fart you can imagine. Although tempted, I didn't buy the "Extreme Farts Extension Pack." The purchase felt imprudent given my own financial instability with a gig-less present and perhaps toilet-paper-less future.
2. In spite of a 2017 Washington Post article describing “the slow, secret death of the six-string electric," there have never been more truly great guitar players alive and pickin'.
During mindless hours locked at home, I've discovered countless guitarists on Instagram that are miles beyond anything I could imagine or execute. Shockingly, a good deal of these badasses are kids. If you want to feel like you don't even play guitar, check out Matteo Mancuso (matteo_mancuso96) or Nathaniel Murphy (@zeppelinbarnatra). Guitar is alive and well.
3. It's okay to do nothing.
Lying on the floor listening to a random shuffle of music is a perfectly fine way to spend a few hours. Since I joined the adult world of spouse/kid/job/bills roughly 33 years ago, I've felt like I always need to be accomplishing something. During quarantine, I've spent a lot of time doing just what I did when I was a kid. Totally unproductive and totally worth it. I felt calmer, happier, and more fulfilled. #HumanBeingNotHumanDoing
4. Fats Waller's “Ain't Misbehavin'" is one of greatest recordings ever.
You can't help but smile or even laugh or dance when you crank this amazing live performance that combines top-tier musicianship with wild showmanship, smoking arrangements, and a wacky sense of humor. Dig deeper into Waller's catalogue to hear guitarist Al Casey shine on tracks like "Buck Jumpin'."
5. We are not in control.
"It's okay to do nothing. Lying on the floor listening to a random shuffle of music is a perfectly fine way to spend a few hours."
6. Every sunny day of quarantine has had the perfect Simpsons' sky of the brightest blue with glowing white clouds.
Proof that driving less is good for the planet. Bring on the electric car.
7. Learning to let go can help.
Because I can't gig, I've done all my music'ing alone. A few days in, I began trying to be more aware of everything: tone, feel, timing, groove. I noticed I tighten up my hand, arm, shoulder, and neck when trying to play something difficult. This affects my timing, execution, and the basic feel. I tried to be mindful of any tension and release it. Try feeling more than thinking. When you have to play something difficult, think about breathing slow and deep rather than worrying about making a mistake. If you're clenching your pick, try playing without one.
8. Herbie Handcock said on Insta:
"We are living through a difficult time, but I'm given hope when I see how people around the world are responding with music … people are gathering for concerts online and singing from their balconies. Music brings us together when even when we are apart.…" We're all connected.
9. I made a vow to post a Quarantine Guitar of the Day video every day on Insta, featuring a different instrument I own.
9. I made a vow to post a Quarantine Guitar of the Day video every day on Insta, featuring a different instrument I own. I also filmed a PG series of "Iso Lab" videos featuring a few favorite guitars and amps. Although I'm embarrassed by how much gear I have, I'm not getting rid of any of it. Knowing me, I will probably add more to the heap. That's the thing about obsessions: They don't call reason into question. I'm ashamed but will not change.
10. In 1987, scientists built a miniature planet inside our planet called Biosphere 2, which led to a crap movie (Bio-Dome) and a scientific discovery that helped my personal paradigm shift.
Scientists planted trees in Biosphere 2, under what they thought were perfect conditions (light, water, weather, nutrients). The trees grew fast but reportedly toppled over, unable to support their own weight. Turns out, trees need the stress of wind to grow a strong root system. That's life. Although we try to avoid stress and pressure from the outside, we need outside forces to push us in order to grow. Stress your body a bit every day with some exercise. Embrace challenges and see where they bring you. Be at peace with the fact that there will always be stressors in your life. They are getting you where you need to be.
- "I'll Probably Literally F#cking Explode!" - Premier Guitar ›
- Top 10 Rig Rundowns of 2020 - Premier Guitar ›
- Instagram-Filter Mentality Is Ruining Your Music - Premier Guitar ›
- Rig Rundown: Shiner - Premier Guitar ›
Looking for more great gear for the guitar player in your life (yourself included!)? Check out this year's Holiday Gear Finds!
D'Addario XPND Pedalboard
DR-05X Stereo Handheld Recorder
Wampler Pedals Ratsbane
Created in collaboration with legendary guitarist George Lynch of Dokken and Lynch Mob fame, the Mr.Scary Mod adds an adjustable tube gain stage and an onboard Deep control, which together are designed to enable an amp to have increased sustain while still retaining note definition and dynamics.
LegendaryTones, LLC today announced production availability of its new Mr. Scary Mod, a 100% pure tube module designed to instantly and easily expand the capabilities of many classic amplifiers with additional gain and tone shaping. Created in collaboration with legendary guitarist George Lynch of Dokken and Lynch Mob fame, the Mr.Scary Mod adds an adjustable tube gain stage and an onboard Deep control, which together are designed to enable an amp to have increased sustain while still retaining note definition and dynamics.
Originally released as the Lynch Mod in February 2021, the updated Mr. Scary Mod features the same core circuit as the Lynch Mod but is now equipped with a revised tube mix combo per George’s preference as well as a facelift in a newly redesigned electro-galvanized steel enclosure. As with the Lynch Mod, each run will be limited and the first run in Pumpkin Orange with Black hardware is limited to just 150 pieces worldwide.
The Mr. Scary Mod adds an adjustable tube gain stage on top of the cathode follower position, keeping note definition and articulation while further increasing sustain. Each Mr. Scary mod is meticulously built by hand in the USA, one at a time, and tuned using high-grade components. Equipped with a single ECC81 (12AT7) in the first position and ECC83 (12AX7) in the second, the Mr. Scary Mod can clean up beautifully when rolling down your guitar’s volume, and still adds scorching gain when you roll it back up. This is a gain stage that’s been tuned and approved by the ears of the maestro George Lynch himself.
“The Mr. Scary Mod excels with dynamics and is incredibly touch-responsive, allowing me to shift from playing clear, lightly compressed cleans to full-out aggressive sustain and distortion –and control it all simply by varying my guitar’s volume control and picking,” said GeorgeLynch. “In many ways, it’s an old-school approach, but it’s also so much more natural and expressive in addition to being musically fulfilling when you can play both the guitar and amp dynamically together this way.”
The Mr. Scary Mod installs in minutes, is safe and effective to use, and requires no special tools or re-biasing of the amplifier. Simply insert the module into the cathode follower preamp position of compatible amplifiers (includes Marshall 2203/2204/1959/1987 circuits) and
immediately get the benefit of enjoying a hot-rodded amp that delivers all the pure harmonic character that comes with an added pure tube gain stage. The handmade in the USA Mr. Scary Mod is now available to order for $319.
For more information, please visit legendarytones.com.
October Audio has miniaturized their NVMBR Gain pedal to create two mini versions of this beautifully organic-sounding circuit – including an always-on gain device.
The NVMBR Gain is a nonlinear amp that transitions gracefully from clean boost to overdriven tones. Volume increases from just over unity to about 10db before soft-clipping drive appears for another 5db of boost. Its extraordinary ease of use is matched by outstanding versatility: you can use it as a clean boost, push a stubborn amp into overdrive or create a just-breaking-up sound at any amp volume.
October Audio’s new family of mini NVMBR Gain pedals includes a switchable version that allows you to bypass the effect: one option features brand logo pedal graphics, while the other sports a fun “Witch Finger” graphic with a Davies knob as the“fingernail”.
The second version in the new lineup is an always-on device featuring the Witch Finger graphic and Davies knob, with the same NVMBR Gain circuit that lies at the core of the switchable version.
- Knob controls gain and clipping simultaneously
- Stunning silver hammertone finish
- Switchable versions are true-bypass, available with classic or witch finger graphics
- Authentic Davies knobs, including the “fingernail”
- 9V center negative power supply required
- Dimensions: 3.63 x 1.50 x 1.88 in
Witch Finger (always on NVMBR Gain) demo
All October Audio pedals are assembled in Richmond, VA, and available for purchase directly through the online shop. Street price is $109 for NVMBR Gain footswitch versions and $89 for the always-on device.
For more information, please visit octoberaudio.com.