What our readers had to say about the August issue of PG, and more!

Saving the Smeagols
You hit that one [“Banishing Gollum (or Discovering Your Inner Punk),” Tuning Up August 2011] out of the park, man. I lost that inner punk so long ago that I didn’t realize it was gone, nor can I even remember what he looked like. I’ve been playing for over 40 years and have some great gear and get great tone. But after reading your article, I think back on the early ’70s, when all I had was a Univox Les Paul copy and a Silvertone stack. I must have had that inner punk on speed, because I had work all over town and tours, as well. I lost that punk after years of compromise, I’m sure. Now I’m on a mission to find that bastard and tear something up again.
—Leland Berg
Los Angeles

Hi Shawn.
Loved your “Gollum” editorial in PG Aug. ‘11. I haven’t figured out where they are yet, but I’m looking all over my studio for your cameras. I know they are in there somewhere, because you pretty much nailed me! Not the part about having a hit already—[although] I’m amazed you missed that fact, since you must know that if I only woodshed a bit longer I’ll have a modicum of sufficient perfection to make that hit! My wife and all our friends, family, and even a few strangers, keep pressing me to share my talents and get out there and play! Well, you and I both know you can’t trust those people—but with more practice and that special piece of gear . . .

Yep, you caught me. It’s not the gear or the chops, but a little punk. That’s what rock ’n’ roll started out as, and that is still its soul. Thanks for the wake-up call—because we all know what happens if we wait too long for that perfect moment.
—Eddie James
via email

PG editor Shawn Hammond responds: “You’re welcome, Leland and Eddie. But I’m just passing along what I learned a while back. There was a time when I didn’t want to listen to anything that didn’t have an “amazing” guitarist—someone with great chops and awesome tone. But my definitions of chops and tone were revoltingly shallow and obvious, fed by the typical ego traps and insularity common to any artist too wrapped up in his own thing. Only when I opened myself up to stuff off the beaten path did I start to loosen up, break away from orthodox guitar-god worship, and find my own inner punk. Good luck in your quest to throw “precious” into the fires of Mt. Doom!”

Zany About Zagray!
I’m a happy [Anacon Technology] Zagray! owner and agree with your review [August 2011]. I placed my order after reading all the positive comments from the 2010 NY Amp Show. I was hesitant, having recently had a bad experience with a Nashville-based amp manufacturer. So what was I thinking, sending money to some guy in Sweden? It couldn’t have turned out better. Aleksander Niemand is great (and fun) to deal with, and his amp is stellar. And he is a monster at packing/ shipping. I’m not a fan of lots of controls, but every knob and switch on the Zagray! is useful. Note the round vs. chickenhead knobs—more intuitive design. And, for those into aesthetics, the photos in the article don’t do justice to the copper-hued metal enclosure.
—Joan Bull (aka TDJMB on The Gear Page)
via email

All-American Reject
Thanks for the great article about one of the greatest players of our time. Keith [Urban, August 2011] is one of a kind. Featuring him in your magazine will open minds about this amazing musician to all the clueless doubters. Keith is proof that you don’t need to look or act like a reject to be one of the best in the world. You can be a good-looking, all-around great guy who sings upbeat love songs and still shred with the best. Thank you, Premier Guitar!
via premierguitar.com

A Terror Flubbers Among Us
Look, I don’t want to be all negative and hater-y, but somebody’s gotta take on the tough ones, I guess. To wit: There ought to be a LAW that old rock-goddy guitarists with wrinkly, flabby underarms can’t be photographed wearing sleeveless shirts. C’mon guys, you know who you are! Just because they’re called “muscle shirts” doesn’t mean they make your geezer-flaps look studlier.
via email

We’ll try to walk a fine line here, but there are those on the PG staff who believe sleeveless shirts should be banned altogether simply because A) even on fit people, they reveal a disturbing level of narcissism that we’d rather they kept to themselves, and B) they overvalue the cooling effectiveness of 5 percent less fabric while completely ignoring the nausea-inducing effect they have on the rest of us—especially those home-cut versions that show a lot more than arm meat.

We neglected to credit photographer extraordinaire Neil Zlozower for the awesome Randy Rhoads pic on p. 143 of our July 2011 issue. Sorry, Zloz! Also, in our August 2011 profile of luthier Ken Parker, we described “veneers” in some of the captions. Only Parker’s necks use veneers—the other woods are solid. We apologize for the misunderstanding. In that same issue, we mistidentified the 6-string banjo player in the Keith Urban photo on p.147. It’s former Urban band member Chris Rodriguez.
Rig Rundown: Adam Shoenfeld

Whether in the studio or on his solo gigs, the Nashville session-guitar star holds a lotta cards, with guitars and amps for everything he’s dealt.

Adam Shoenfeld has helped shape the tone of modern country guitar. How? Well, the Nashville-based session star, producer, and frontman has played on hundreds of albums and 45 No. 1 country hits, starting with Jason Aldean’s “Hicktown,” since 2005. Plus, he’s found time for several bands of his own as well as the first studio album under his own name, All the Birds Sing, which drops January 28.

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Diatonic sequences are powerful tools. Here’s how to use them wisely.



• Understand how to map out the neck in seven positions.
• Learn to combine legato and picking to create long phrases.
• Develop a smooth attack—even at high speeds.

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Knowing how to function in different keys is crucial to improvising in any context. One path to fretboard mastery is learning how to move through positions across the neck. Even something as simple as a three-note-per-string major scale can offer loads of options when it’s time to step up and rip. I’m going to outline seven technical sequences, each one focusing on a position of a diatonic major scale. This should provide a fun workout for the fingers and hopefully inspire a few licks of your own.
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