Jonathan Pearce of the Beths joins us in discussing our most beloved acoustic strummers. Plus, musical obsessions!
Q: What’s your favorite song to play on an acoustic and why?
Jonathan Pearce (The Beths) — Guest Picker
Photo by Erza Simmons
A: I love the Kenyan guitarist Henry Makobi, and I’ve tried hard to learn his song “Likuta Bibi.” I’ll never be able to play it just like him; it’s just too idiosyncratic. But I can kind of get the gist of it and it’s a wickedly clever line.
The trick I learned from this song is to harmonize a melody in sixths, with a top line melody that’s nicely “in the chords,” but a bottom line that can sneak out, and back in, harmonically. It’s a finger twister, too—you have to fully commit to have any hope of landing it. I learned about Makobi from an interview with another musical hero of mine, the Newcastle songwriter Richard Dawson.
Jonathan Pearce's Current Obsession:
Uilleann pipe music from Ireland. This segment is making my listening seem way more diverse than it really is, but truthfully this is my current obsession. Uilleann pipes are so rock ’n’ roll to me. Like a heavily distorted electric guitar, they scream, sustain, and squawk, like they’re on the edge of feedback. The drone element is so relevant to guitar music, too, and I’m trying to get my head around the way pipers adorn melodies with grace notes and turns. The repertoire is just so great, full of dexterous and rousing melodies. I’m trying to learn to play the tin whistle, with the hope of graduating to a set of pipes one day.
Mike Blue — Reader of the Month
A: “Spain” by Chick Corea.
I worked on learning that song harder than I worked on any song in 50 years. So, I only play it for me.
Mike Blue's Current Obsession:
My obsession is easy: being able to make music. Not just play notes, but make some sort of musical contribution, whatever that may be.
Ted Drozdowski — Senior Editor
A: Big Mama Thornton’s “Ball and Chain” in open Dm. I came to the song through Big Brother and Cheap Thrills but backtracked to Big Mama—an astounding person.
Big Mama Thornton 1970
She was a great musician, an out gay woman writing hits and leading a band of men around the world in the ’50s, ’60s, and ’70s. Powerful! It’s also a gateway. Down a half-step and I’m in Bentonia tuning.
Ted Drozdowski Current Obsession:
My new stereo Carr amp rig blows my mind. See my most recent Love and Sockets column.
Jason Shadrick — Associate Editor
A: I’ve been getting deeper and deeper into learning fiddle tunes and love to use the classic “Blackberry Blossom” as a good warm-up to center my mind with both hands.
Tony Rice ~ Blackberry Blossom
The fact that these tunes are eighth-note based and use pretty strict alternate picking allows me to go into an almost meditative state while working on them.
Jason Shadrick's Current Obsession:
Hands down, it’s The Rehearsal on HBO. It’s one of the most mind-bending shows I’ve ever seen, and Nathan Fielder is an absolute genius. I hesitate to say much more about it, but I guarantee there are at least a half-dozen times in the first episode where I had to pause and go, “WTF?”
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Which one do you prefer?
Rhett and Zach unpack the big news for secondhand guitar sellers and buyers: Sweetwater has launched their new Gear Exchange. How does it compare to Reverb, Craigslist, and Marketplace? To find out, Zach takes the site for a spin and buys a pedal. He calls the process both “very easy” and “normal.” They discuss the pros and cons of the various used-gear outlets and share tips for not getting got when buying gear. Plus, Zach grew a mustache, Mythos Pedals is moving, and he talks about his forthcoming line of Strat pickups inspired by Hendrix’s reverse-stagger setup.
Sweetwater vs. Reverb
Get 10% off from StewMac when you visit stewmac.com/dippedintone
The Royale was designed to deliver loud and vivid clean tone with a responsive, tactile low end.
Designed to offer massive headroom, the 50-watt Royale Head lets you indulge in smooth clean tones at even higher volumes on stage without any breakup. Select between class A and class AB modes, with its variable mode switch, so you can choose between gushing Supro tone or a punchier, tight midrange response.
Introducing the Royale Head & Extension Cabinet | Supro
The Royale 1x12 Extension Cabinet features the custom Supro BD12 high-power driver, offering the same mid-range punch and clean articulation as the Royale combo but with additional stage volume. More info: suprousa.com.
Royale Head | $1,499.99
Royale Cab | $669.99
D'Addario Foundation's education project sets out to help schools throughout the country and kicks off with an online auction.
The D’Addario Foundation will host a virtual auction from November 9 to November 30, 2022, with the overarching goal of raising $30,000 for the D'Addario Foundation’s Immersive Music Challenge.
Inspired by a new study published in the Journal of Youth Development, the D'Addario Foundation recently launched the Immersive Music Challenge. This ambitious project will help school districts and charter systems throughout the country boost academic achievement by implementing effective, multi-day-per-week music-based mentoring programs that include training, administration, and evaluation. The D’Addario Foundation has invested in an incredible team of consultants that include school superintendents, public health experts, and data analysts to ensure sound results. In addition, D’Addario is actively seeking corporate partners to support the establishment of these programs and champion their success.
Thanks to the generosity of D'Addario artists and industry partners including Gibson, PRS Guitars, D'Angelico, Taylor Guitars, and more, one-of-a-kind items & experiences are up for bidding. Some of the items include:
- Evans Drumhead signed by Anderson Paak
- ESP Mirage Deluxe '87 Signed by Bruce Kulick of KISS and Grand Funk Railroad
- Gibson Les Paul Custom electric guitar
- D'Addario bass string set signed by Bryan Beller of the Aristocrats
- PRS S2 McCarty 594 Singlecut
- Virtual Lesson with Marty Schwartz
To celebrate its 20th anniversary, Xotic Effects unveils an updated version of their classic boost pedal.
Xotic’s RC Booster pedal is back to celebrate its 20th anniversary. The RC Booster’s original design was a customer favorite due to its versatile clean boost, active treble, bass, gain and volume controls. This classic reissue will join their regular pedal lineup permanently.
• Transparent boost pedal for electric guitar
• Up to 20dB of boost for adding volume or sending your amp into overdrive
• Treble and bass EQ controls with +/-15dB range for fine-tuning your sound
• True bypass switching removes the effect from your signal path when disengaged
• Powered via 9-volt battery or optional AC adapter (sold separately)
• 9-18 volts
The first 1000 pedals will contain a special limited edition packaging with special items and actual guitar picks from Andy Timmons, Paul Jackson Jr, Dean Brown, Kirk Fletcher, Allen Hinds, Chris Duarte, Scott Henderson, Oz Noy, Michael Thompson, Yuya Komoguchi, Toshi Yanagi.
RC Booster with limited edition packaging street price is $172.00. More info: xotic.us.