One Christmas morning, when I was probably 9 or 10, Santa brought me a nice stereo turntable outfit. I''ll never forget walking toward the thing and seeing that there were
One Christmas morning, when I was probably 9 or 10, Santa brought me a nice stereo turntable outfit. I'll never forget walking toward the thing and seeing that there were four Doc Watson records leaning up against it—Southbound, Doc and Merle Watson's Guitar Album, Riding the Midnight Train, and Red Rocking Chair. I was as excited about those records as I was about anything else under the tree. I had started playing guitar a couple of years earlier, and outside of my dad, Doc was my first guitar hero (Tony Rice, Dan Crary, and others would come later).
A young Sutton meets his hero.
I was blessed to grow up in western North Carolina, an extremely musical part of the world. I knew that Doc Watson was from near Boone, up around Deep Gap, which I knew was relatively near where I lived. I was already enamored with Doc by then, so I had a certain pride knowing that he and I were from the same part of the world.
I got to see Doc live for the first time around 1984. He, along with Merle and T. Michael Coleman performed at a show in Maggie Valley, North Carolina. I was sitting just off stage right, about 30 feet from Doc, and it was my first experience of being totally starstruck. The experience was too awesome for words. I got to see him a few more times at the wonderful Fiddler's Grove festival, in Union Grove, North Carolina, by that point Jack Lawrence had been added to the line-up, and I got to meet Doc at one of these festivals. I used to record the shows on a little handheld tape recorder then go back to my campsite and learn everything. I remember working out many of Doc's phrases after these shows. I was never more inspired to learn and play than after these magical sets.
I've always thought Doc had a great speaking voice—I absolutely love to hear him talk. Ernest Tubb used to remind his audience, “If you'll be a good neighbor, you'll have good neighbors.” Doc's shows were kind of like ET's. After all the great picking, singing, storytelling, and plain chatter, I just felt better about the world. Doc brought his living room and front porch to every stage he played. He was much bigger than just an innovative guitarist; he embodied a certain character that represented everything I wanted to be. He was a real person, but a kind of mythological character at the same time. You got life lessons listening to Doc Watson play and talk.
My career kind of "took off" around 1995 after joining Ricky Skaggs’ Kentucky Thunder band, and the release of the album, Bluegrass Rules. It was quite a time to say the least. I'm a sentimental guy and don't take a lot of things for granted. The first time we played MerleFest, I was tearing up most of the set. I was on this stage I had seen many times from out front, my parents were out there, and Doc and Rosa Lee were on the side of the stage. It was too much.
I got to sort of know Doc through the late ’90s and early 2000s. There were various festival jams where he and I were on the stage together. I would sometimes go say hello when he was hanging out in his dressing room back stage at MerleFest. I never spent a huge amount of time with him, but I felt there was a connection. One of my most precious memories was at Merlefest where Jim Rouse, Doc's guide around the festival, took me aside and said that Doc and Rosa Lee really enjoyed a certain Randy Travis record where I had played some clawhammer banjo. Of all things in the world, she said my playing reminded her of Merle's. Rosa Lee wanted to try to arrange some time over the weekend to hear me play. That was also too much! It turns out I had a Friday night cabin set (The "tweener" set just off the main stage where performances occur while the big stage is being set up). I thought I would try to make this happen for Rosa Lee during that set. I asked Doc to sing and play and I would play the banjo. He agreed and it was a lovely experience. We played the old gospel standard, “The Unclouded Day.” A funny thing was, the cabin stage sits at an odd angle to anyone sitting on the Rosa Lee's side of the main stage, so we had to literally hang off the front of the cabin porch for her to be able to see the music.
A difficult thing for me as a "pro picker" is getting over that starstruck feeling I've always had around my heroes. It's a surreal kind of blessing to be able to call the folks I admire so much “friends.” It's still hard to be around most of the people I perform with and not remember all the times I listened, watched, admired, and studied them as a kid. I cherish every moment I ever spent with Doc. He and I won a prize for the recording of “Whiskey Before Breakfast" we did for my duets album. The best memory I have of that process was getting Doc from his hotel room, walking to and riding the elevator, and then walking to the room I had turned into a recording studio. It was just he and I, gabbing about various things, telling jokes, talking gear, etc. It was a great moment being one on one with a masterful guy.
Doc is not with us anymore in the physical sense. But his music and my memories are as strong as they ever were—maybe even stronger. When things in this world are considered past and gone, that usually means they're replaceable. Doc Watson can't be replaced so he'll never really be gone. He will always maintain a presence and just as strong an influence for me as ever. His footprint is too big in the world of music. He's secured a place in the pantheon of music legends like Bach, Django, Hendrix, and Monroe. These men and their music are eternal.
I'll miss not having the opportunity to see Doc play anymore. As a flatpicker though, I am forever connected to him, and all I have to do is pick up a guitar and feel him.
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We’ve compiled this year’s best deals in the 2022 Holiday Gift Guide presented by Guitar Center.
Looking for a compact, “noiseless” way to plug in and play guitar? Check out the brand-new Gibson Digital Amp, available only in the Gibson App.
The new Gibson App simplifies the learning process and brings guitar playing to life for the current and next generation of guitarists in a modern, comprehensive, and intuitive way. The Gibson App is the place to take your guitar playing to the next level. New to the Gibson App is the Gibson Digital Amp, the ultimate starting amplifier for beginners and a flexible amp on-the-go for intermediate players and pros to get their sound anywhere. The Gibson Digital Amp is an accessible amplifier for both acoustic and electric guitars, and is currently available for Apple/iOS users--an Android version will debut next year.
Use the Gibson Digital Amp’s jamming guide to get started and transform your sound with built-in effects and pedals, jam to backing tracks, or use it in lessons and songs. The Gibson Digital Amp only requires your phone, and wired headphones for the best playing experience, no cables are needed. The amp features 3 acoustic mic presets, 4 electric amp presets, and 6 effects pedals.
The Gibson Digital Amp is the ultimate starting amplifier for beginners and a flexible amp on-the-go for intermediates and pros.
The Gibson App uses a unique two-way, interactive platform to teach guitar students how to do everything from playing their first note to shredding loads of songs. The Gibson App features interactive lessons with thousands of lessons and songs. Learn the songs step-by-step with video tutorials from superstar artists and pro guitarists in the “Gibson App Guide.” The Gibson App also includes the new Digital Amp, a built-in tuner, a metronome, Gibson TV, and new songs are added every week. New Gibson App Guides are added regularly and include Tommy “Spaceman” Thayer’s favorite iconic KISS guitar solos, Richie Faulkner’s (Judas Priest) “Guide to Metal,” Jared James Nichols’ “Guide to Blues,” CELISSE’s “Guide to Songwriting,” and more.
The Gibson App uses “audio augmented reality” to provide dynamic feedback to students as they learn and play. As you pluck a note or strum a chord, the Gibson App listens to your guitar and gives you real-time feedback on your playing. It also gives students a more contextual learning experience: Instead of learning chords and scales in a vacuum, you’re able to practice on a scrolling tablature that lets you hear how you sound with the backing of a virtual band. That means you can load up “Hurt” by Johnny Cash, “Brown Eyed Girl” by Van Morrison, “American Girl" by Tom Petty, “Nothing Else Matters” by Metallica, “Where is My Mind" by Pixies, “Country Roads” by John Denver, “I Hate Myself For Loving You" by Joan Jett, “Heaven” by Kane Brown, “Shape Of You” by Ed Sheeran, “Killer Queen” by Queen,“ Sweet Child O’ Mine,” by Guns ‘N Roses, “Run to the Hills” by Iron Maiden, “Roxanne” by The Police, and “Don’t Stop Believin’” by Journey, “Smells Like Teen Spirit” and “The Man Who Sold the World” by Nirvana, “Are You Gonna Go My Way” by Lenny Kravitz, and “Don't Look Back In Anger” by Oasis and hundreds more songs in a wide range of genres, to see how your play matches up with such seminal tracks.
As you’re playing, the Gibson App gives you feedback on timing and tone, ensuring that students are getting active input on how their play is developing. The Gibson App appeals to players of all levels, it’s not just for beginners looking to learn a few chords; the app can assist seasoned guitarists who are working their way through difficult riffs, want to learn their favorite songs, or polish their advanced techniques.
Players can also challenge themselves by speeding up or slowing the tabs. Like having a full-time guitar teacher, the Gibson App keeps track of all your progress and adjusts lesson plans accordingly. The Gibson App released a “backing track mode” which supports both lesson and song playback without headphones, so users can self-select what works best for their current environment. And that’s not all: the Gibson App also packs in a fully-featured digital tuner for guitar first-timers, there’s even a detailed lesson on how to tune your instrument, a multi-function metronome, players can connect to free one-on-one consultations with Gibson’s Virtual Guitar Tech team, and to direct links to the Gibson, Epiphone, and Kramer online stores for easy shopping for guitars, gear, apparel, and accessories.
Learn Guitar With The Gibson App
The Gibson App is more than a pocket-sized guitar teacher, it’s loaded with an archive of exclusive content and original programming from its premium and accessible award-winning online network, Gibson TV, featuring music icons telling their best guitar stories, with more episodes and installments added regularly. Users can watch Black Sabbath’s Tony Iommi share insights and tales from his decades-long career on the series “Icons,” dive into Joe Bonamassa’s assortment of legendary Les Paul guitars on “The Collection,” or see how Gibson’s iconic instruments are made in their Nashville factory from body to binding on “The Process.” There’s even a series called “The Scene” that focuses on backstage stories from hallowed music venues from coast to coast like The Troubadour and Grand Ole Opry.
The Gibson App free version features a few lessons a day; the premium version of the Gibson App offers full access and a 14-day free trial, then costs $19.99/£16.49 monthly or $119.99/£98.99 yearly.
For more information, please visit gibson.com.
This pickup captures the clear, bell-like single-coil chime of a classic P-90 when played clean and retains the tight mids and articulate low-end vintage growl and smooth sustain saturation when pushed into overdrive.
Belltone Guitars, as part of their Custom-Select System curated offering of pickups, has partnered McNelly pickups to create a one-of-a-kind retro-vibe P-90 pickup in the standard Filtertron size format. This pickup captures the clear, bell-like single-coil chime of a classic P-90 when played clean and retains the tight mids and articulate low-end vintage growl, and smooth sustain saturation when pushed into overdrive.
The McNelly P-90 Foil-Coil comes housed in a ‘raw’ nickel outer casing with a dull nickel foil face with metal mount screw gromets to complete the ‘new-vintage’ aesthetic, making it a perfect choice for your signature Belltone custom build. Available exclusively through Belltone Guitars.
Check out the Custom-Select System belltoneguitars.com to preview the McNelly P-90 Foil-Trons and all our standard and selectable components available to create your own signature Belltone. Then visit the Dream Lab on our website and select either model B-Classic ONE with its top binding or B-Classic TWO with its arm and body contours select your body color from our wide range of offerings, select your neck profile of either standard ‘C’ or thicker ’59 Round Back and either Maple or Rosewood fingerboard followed by your tuners, pickguard, and strings. Finally, review our curated custom-designed, and unique pickup selection to locate the McNelly P-90 Foil-Trons to complete your signature build.
Builds start at just over $2,300.00 with a custom case and shipping included.
For more information, please visit belltoneguitars.com.
McNelly P 90 Foil Tron video Sep27
DiMarzio, Inc. announces the Relentless P (DP299), the Relentless J Bridge (DP301), Relentless J Neck (DP300), and the Relentless J Pair (DP302) for 4 string basses.
DiMarzio, Inc. announces the release of the Relentless P (DP299), the Relentless J Bridge (DP301), Relentless J Neck (DP300), and the Relentless J Pair (DP302) for 4 string basses. The new Relentless P and Relentless J series pickups feature the Relentless cover designed in collaboration with Billy Sheehan.
As with the Relentless pickups, we removed all the hard edges from the standard P Bass and standard J Basspickups, and added an arch to the top of the pickups to bring the sensing coils and pole pieces closer to the strings. These improvements increase the dynamic range and make active circuitry unnecessary.
The Relentless P and Relentless J pickups incorporate Neodymium magnets and produce 70 percent more output than traditional passive pickups, and they’re dead quiet due to the incorporation of metal covers and foil-shielded cables. To dial in (or fine-tune) the individual string output, the Relentless P and Relentless J include eight adjustable pole pieces. These pickups also have a broad magnetic field so you can even bend notes without volume dropout.
DiMarzio’s extra shielding makes the Relentless P and Relentless J better for both recording and stage performances. We’ve mounted them onto robust .09375” thick circuit board base plates to eliminate the annoying protruding mounting screws — ultimately creating a more comfortable and consistent foundation to rest your fingers on.
The new Relentless P steps beyond the traditional P-Bass sound and can only be described as massive. It has more of everything: more volume, beefier lows, a growling midrange, and crispy highs with better individual string definition.
The Relentless J incorporates a new invention, (patent pending) parallelogram-shaped coils, offering an expanded mid-range punch, snappy highs, precise lows, and a new dimension to the sound of the Relentless series pickups.
Relentless P and Relentless J pickups will breathe new life into any bass, increase playability, and work well for any style of music from Motown to metal.
DiMarzio’s Relentless P, Relentless J Bridge, Relentless J Neck, and Relentless J pair are made in the U.S.A. and may now be ordered for immediate delivery.
Suggested List Price for the Relentless P is $169.00 (MAP $119.99).
Suggested List Price for the Relentless J Bridge and Relentless J neck is $155.00 (MAP $109.99).
Suggested List Price for the Relentless J Pair is $296.00 (MAP 209.99).
For more information, please visit our website at dimarzio.com.